Aug 8, 2012

Turkish Star Trek (1973)

Director: Hulki Saner
Writer: Ferdi Merter
Saner Film; 72 min; color

Sadri Alisik (Turist Ömer), Erol Amaç (Mr. Spak), Cemil Sahbaz (Kaptan Kirk),
Ferdi Merter (Doktor McCoy)

Filmmakers in the exploitation racket would shamelessly rip off one hot property with copycat films that would duplicate the success of that commodity for as long as they continued to sell tickets. However, of all the low-budget knockoffs “inspired” by a Western Hemisphere trend, none seem so blatant, or as delirious, as those produced in Turkey. Movies inspired by Star Wars or Superman would not only copy the storyline, they’d even incorporate some footage from the source material! It is small wonder that they are pure gold for collectors of video obscura. Even when they are presented without subtitles, these films delight fans with their wonderfully crass acts of plunder and cheesy production values.

Turkish Star Trek (original title: Turist Omer Uzay Yolunda) is not completely a riff on the classic Gene Roddenberry TV series, as the lead role is that of a vagabond-type character named Turist Omer, (played by Turkish character actor Sadri Alisik, who has played this role in at least four other films), who gets beamed up to the Enterprise in this instalment. His adventures (think “Topol in Space”) are sly spoofs on classic episodes of the Star Trek franchise.

The film begins with the traditional opening credits sequence from the TV series (tinted in red), with liberal use of the “Star Trek” theme, and the Enterprise flying by the screen, with “whoosh” sound intact.  The credits too are padded with some surf music playing over a slide of a spiral galaxy.

And wait till you see the interior of the Enterprise.  The ship looks like a factory boiler room with a bunch of silly video screens placed about!  In this version, their Captain Kirk appears rather prissy, as opposed to the usual skirt-chasing archetype who has a green girlfriend at every asteroid. He doesn’t overact as much, either.  Spock, or “Spak”, is played by an actor who wears these silly plastic ears which do not resemble his skin tones, and actually (wisely?) conveys more emotion than Leonard Nimoy ever did.  In Istanbul, Spock is a self-mocking existentialist!  Rock on!

Even though the version I watched is not presented with subtitles, the histrionics of the actors are enough that you do get a sense of the story.  First, we get a remake of the classic episode, “The Man Trap”, as the crew beams down to a planet where a scientist couple does research.  The wife, Nancy, is an old flame of Dr. McCoy. We learn that she can change her appearance at will- she lures a security guard away by looking like some steely blonde.  The man is found dead with a bunch of strange red sucker marks on his face.  (Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” is heard on the soundtrack!)

Oh yes. Before we continue, two important notes. First, in Turkish Star Trek, people beam down by having these squiggly lines drawn all over them followed by the camera going out of focus.  Secondly, it is the guys in the green shirts that always get killed!

Suddenly we cut to a wedding scene (!) in which a bunch of people in really bad striped pants swarm around this station wagon with “Just Married” accoutrements.  Our hero, Turist Omer is suddenly threatened by mob types brandishing guns to sign a marriage license.  During his overacting, Omer prays to Allah, and suddenly appears on the same rocky setting that our crew beamed down to.  He is captured by this guy wearing leopard underwear who walks around like a robot (accompanied by clunking noises on the soundtrack!).  Omer is brought to the scientist couple, and then Nancy suddenly starts sucking his fingers!  (This is where we begin to see her “salt vampire” motif , stolen from the classic Trek episode.)

The landing party members beam Omer back up the ship with them, and first the lecherous beast tries to come on to the women on the bridge.  Thankfully, the females in Turkish Star Trek are a lot more aggressive—they respond by pulling phasers on him.  (The phasers, by the way, look like vibrators with handles.)  Meanwhile, Nancy kills a scientist crewmember, assumes his identity and then gets beamed aboard the ship.  Once you have such an interesting creature, especially if you know the original episode, it is rather annoying not to really do anything with the menace.  Instead the plot spends more time with Omer bugging Spock, and playing with all the dials on the control boards.  (Where would any Star Trek rip-off be without one Dutch angle shot of the crew falling all over the place?)

However, Nancy, in the guise of said crewmember starts to hypnotize all the lovely yeoman ladies, runs his/her/its fingers across the victims’ faces, and then licks the fingertips afterwards.  The Roddenberry universe was never so kinky!  Anyway, they beam back down to the planet, and discover the dead body of the real crewman.  Then Kirk and Spock do battle with some bad monster wearing rubber mask, gloves and a flame retardant suit (!) Then our real creature appears in the guise of a temptress for Omer, even a Vulcan bride for Spock, which thusly allows the plot to diverge into an “Amok Time” rip-off, where this dime-store version of Kirk and Spock do battle with each other as part of the Vulcan marriage rite (dinner and a movie just don’t cut it on Spock’s planet).  Disappointingly, no “da-da-dada” Star Trek fight music is heard.

Nancy’s husband meanwhile attempts to thwart the crew by having the landing party do battle with a bunch of duplicates of that same weird robot we saw earlier.  Omer saves the day by screwing up the professor’s machine.  Apparently, the creature had beamed down in the guise of McCoy.  Then the real McCoy beams down, and we learn from the professor that his wife’s true visage is that of a vampire who draws salt out of its victims.  Then the creature attacks Kirk while Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” plays!!

Having almost saved the day, the crew beams Omer back down to where they found him —but not without the actor doing an endless pantomime in the transporter room, even padding screen time by kissing everyone on the cheek… Spock included.  Omer appears right back in the middle of his shotgun wedding.  He and everyone is stunned at his new physical attribute… Vulcan ears!  Suddenly, that gives him the idea that he can save the day by giving the mobsters the Vulcan neck pinch.  The end.  I have a sudden urge to watch Pink Floyd in Pompeii.

(adapted from an article in ESR #16 about Turkish rip-offs)

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