Mexican wrestlerCaptain AmericaAytekin AkkayaSpider-Man
Turkish Spider-Man
Also known as: 3 Dev Adam (3 Mighty Men)
Medium: film
Year: 1973
Director: T. Fikret Ucak
Writer: Dogan Tamer
Keywords: superhero, low-budget, Mexican wrestler, Captain America, gangster
Language: Turkish
Country: Turkey
Actor: Aytekin Akkaya, Deniz Erkanat, Yavuz Selekman, Teyfik Sen, Dogan Tamer, Mine Sun, Altan Gunbay, Ersun Kazancel, Hasan Ceylan, Osman Han, Aysen Taskin, Mahmut Gulay, Ali Ekdal, Niyazi Vanli, Alev Bora
Format: 81 minutes
Series: Spider-Man >>
Website category: Foreign language
Review date: 16 May 2010
There are lots of weird foreign-language versions of American comic-book superheroes, some of them even licensed. There's a 1978 live-action Japanese Spider-Man series, for instance, in which he has a giant robot. That's an official one. There's a Turkish and a Indian Superman, the latter including musical numbers. However I'd be surprised to find anything quite as wrong as Turkish Spider-Man, which turns the dude into a combination of Scarface and Jason Vorhees and has him being taken down by Captain America and El Santo.
Yes, it's those wacky Turks again! This film even shares a lead actor (Aytekin Akkaya) with Turkish Star Wars, although it's nowhere near as nuts. There's something uniquely deranged about zero-budget SF, even when you're not cutting in chunks of other people's movies, whereas apart from the three guest stars this feels like a normal film. I don't know if I'd even call it bad. Obviously it's both a million miles away from good and howlingly cheap, but it takes place in the real world, the acting's better than you'd think and the story's too rudimentary to go wrong. In fact these days the film's biggest problem isn't its fault at all, but simply the fact that the internet version has no English subtitles and looks like a twentieth-generation VHS tape encoded to avi format by a ZX81. It's barely watchable, although obviously I struggled through it.
The story's straightforward. Spider-Man is a Turkish gangster with a pot belly and he's going around killing people. Captain America, El Santo and Captain America's girlfriend Julia fight him. Okay, that was more straightforward than I expected.
Spider-Man is obviously the most bizarre element. The film opens with him burying a young woman in sand up to her neck, then backing a boat's propellor into her face. Unfortunately the only gore is blood splashing on people's legs, but we get the picture. The guy's a dick. Later he punches someone in the stomach and... hang on, where'd the switchblade come from? The version I know doesn't stab people. At this point Spider-Man's still only doing gangster stuff, but later on I started being reminded of slasher movies as we see him murdering women while they're naked in the bath or shower, sometimes while they're also having sex at the time. The only surprise is that he doesn't rape them first. He also doesn't have superpowers, unless you count his ability to summon multiple copies of himself. Presumably he's simply dressed up his whole gang in his spare costumes, which further underlines the "lack of superpowers" thing since there doesn't seem to be any difference in fighting ability between the real and ersatz Spider-Men. Every time he sees Captain America, he runs away like a girl.
He also has a weird laugh. It's meant to sound evil, but it sounds as if he's eating a frog.
Captain America meanwhile is a hero, but Turkish and with neither wings on his helmet nor a shield. He does appear to have modest superpowers, since we see him smash through a wall and then later have bullets bouncing off him, although that could be just body armour. He's played by Aytekin Akkaya, who's quite good.
Finally there's El Santo, although unfortunately it's just some Turkish dude rather than the man himself. Yes, the Mexicans were puzzled when they found out about it too. In some ways this could almost be a regular Mexican wrestling movie, except in the wrong foreign language and starring Marvel superheroes instead of weird SF or horror movie monsters, but they miss the mark in a big way with El Santo himself. I don't object to Captain America taking his costume off because superheroes do that all the time, but with El Santo it's like Judge Dredd taking off the helmet. That's one of the best things about Mexican wrestling movies. You'll have Santo or Blue Demon popping down the shops for some groceries in their wrestling gear, which is funny. It's even worse when the guy under the mask is twenty years younger than the real El Santo and has girly seventies hair.
The fight scenes are good, though. It's a laugh to see El Santo beating the crap out of Spider-Man and hoisting him up on his shoulders. It's also fun to see such an anti-heroic Spider-Man, such as for instance when he escapes from Captain America simply by getting into a car, driving away and then punching his enemy repeatedly in the face when the guy grabs the car door. Oh, and I liked the way a chase scene simply has the actors running flat-out, whereas I find that most cinematic chase scenes tend to feel more artificial and choreographed. For quite a while the fight scenes were my favourite parts, although they started getting old a little towards the end and of course the climactic procession of "aha, another Spider-Man" went on too long too.
There's less than you'd think here that's actually stupid-funny, as opposed to just the freakshow value of seeing an evil Spider-Man fighting Captain America and El Santo. The only bonkers bit is the American Psycho scene. Spider-Man sticks a tube on some guy's face and pushes in two guinea pigs. Yes, that's right. I stopped and rewound to make sure they hadn't been starving rats or something. No, they're definitely guinea pigs. I'd have loved to have got that in proper video quality, because I've never seen gory murder by guinea pig before and I suspect it'll become nuclear-level funny if you can see it properly. However I did enjoy working on my theory that Turkish movies are so naively macho that they're generating homoerotic subtext. Admittedly the cast contains some pretty women, who'll strip (albeit without really showing anything) and have sex. However of our three heroes, the most clearly heterosexual is the psychopath who's hardly ever seen out of costume and goes around killing naked women. Captain America and El Santo are like Batman and Robin, exchanging significant glances even when Captain America's girlfriend's in shot. At one point El Santo admires a weightlifter, while for the third act they go to a club while wearing Liberace's cast-offs.
Don't ask me to explain the sex-watching puppets, though. After giving this more thought than it deserves (i.e. any), I think the best explanation is that they accidentally spliced in a few seconds of footage from a creepy children's show. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic here.
Would I recommend this? Again, no, but in a different way to Turkish Star Wars. That film was bad enough to melt your computer, whereas this is merely cheap and uninspired, with no English subtitles and picture quality to make you worried that you've been looking at the sun through a telescope. It's not even "so bad it's good", apart from the guinea pigs. However it's at least comparable to real Mexican wrestling films and I did kind of enjoy seeing its three superheroes going to war with each other. That was fun, sometimes. Now I'm getting tempted to track down the Indian Superman, which I hear is good in its own twisted way, except that there's more than one...