Thursday, March 15, 2012
[It's time yet again for Tars Tarkas and I to play dueling reviews! Please check out his site for an alternate take on Mandrake vs. Kilink.]
It's a bitter irony -- though perhaps not coincidental -- that, in the wake of the sad passing of Onar Films' Bill Barounis, we are seeing another small wave of Turkish pulp films that were previously considered lost popping up among collectors. Despite its ragged condition, it's hard for me to doubt that Mandrake vs. Kilink would have eventually gotten the loving Onar treatment from Barounis and been given a proper DVD release. As is, we must be grateful for what we can have, and I indeed owe Tars Tarkas a debt of thanks for tracking this one down. (By the way, note that Mandrake vs. Kilink is just a convenient simplification of the original Turkish title, which translates to something like Mandrake, The King of Illusions - Kilink's Pursuit.)
Kilink Istanbul'da. It also seems that, by the time of Mandrake vs. Kilink, adapting Kilink had become anybody's game, as neither Yilmaz Atadeniz nor Yildiram Gencer -- the director and star, respectively, of the first three Kilink entries -- are involved. Instead, the film is in the hands of illustrator-turned-director Oksal Pekmezoglu, who handles things with the same rough edged expediency and convulsive flashes of unexpected artistry that we've come to expect from Turkish pop cinema of this era. As for Kilink himself, he here spends a lot of his screen time sans mask, so we get a lot of opportunities to have a good look at the handsome devil who is playing him, although I have no idea who among the listed cast he might be.
The Phantom, and fellow King Features comic strip property Flash Gordon -- both of whom also made it to the screen during Turkish cinema's 1960s superhero boom -- Mandrake achieved popularity in Turkey via his appearances in a series of comic magazines. Such American properties were typically "localized" for Turkish consumption, giving them a more homegrown appearance, which might explain why Mandrake's hulking African sidekick Lothar is here called Abdullah. Whatever the case, the filmmakers' efforts to transfer Lothar/Abdullah to the big screen in all his racial dubiousness, using a Turkish actor in full black body paint, indicates a faithfulness to the source material that may not in all cases have been that well advised.
Memsaab or Beth Loves Bollywood will, once I get around to asking them.) This bit just serves as further proof that, for the Turkish Z movie industry of the 60s, not only did anything go, but any corner of world popular culture was ripe for pilfering.