Sunday, February 28, 2010

Intikam Kadini (1979)

aka Turkish I Spit On Your Grave

A quartet of roaming real estate agents has a car breakdown somewhere in the Turkish countryside. A friendly older gentleman and his daughter Aysel (Zerrin Dogan) agree to help the men out with a place to sleep for the night. That turns out to have been a mistake, because the next morning, the men first rape Aysel, then kill her dad only to merrily go their ways afterwards, I imagine whistling.

Aysel decides against the suicide option to solve what she calls her "state of disgrace". Instead, she vamps up a little - as you do as the protagonist in one of the more exploitative rape revenge films - and seeks out her tormentors one after the other to first seduce (or at least bait them with sex) and then kill them, usually while the needle-dropped soundtrack plays a funky little salsa tune.

Intikam Kadini is one of the relatively few surviving films of the great Turkish sexploitation wave of the late 70s. It seems that most of these films have been systematically censored and destroyed, tragically leaving even less of the films of this sub-genre available now than of the other parts of Turkish popular cinema of its time. Consequently, the version of Intikam Kadini going around is sourced from our old friend, the nearly colourless VHS tape, which itself is sourced from a beat up looking, but at least complete (one surmises) film source.

The lack of actual colours and the dubious state of the print make it a little difficult to say much about the film's look, but I don't think it would be unfair to call it a little bland, with awesome landscapes all around that are unfortunately never used for their full visual impact.

Both lead actress Zerrin Dogan and the film's director Naki Yurter (or Yürter?) were quite big names in their niche of exploitation film, both having taking part in swaths of now lost and destroyed movies. If my sources are correct (and I don't speak Turkish at all, so this might just be stuff someone on the Internet made up to make the films sound more exciting), the director did even land himself in prison for his part in making these disreputable movies. It's a sad state of affairs in any case, even if only the films have been destroyed. People going to jail for showing a few breasts in their films is downright unthinkable for me, although it of course wouldn't have been the first time for that to happen, nor will it most probably have been the last.

On the less depressing level of the actual film at hand, Dogan shows all the talents needed for her role here. She looks nice in a bikini, doesn't have a problem with getting naked or pretending to be enthusiastic in her sex scenes, but is also more than decent when presented with the necessity of doing some dramatic acting. To my relief, she also isn't one of those actresses who play a rape like any other sex scene, so that core moment of Intikam Kadini is just as unpleasant as it should be.

Dogan's cold and angry stare isn't on the level of Meiko Kaji in the Sasori films, and her body language not on that of Christina Lindberg in They Call Her One Eye, but her performance gives some of the sleaze around her a bit more dignity than it necessarily deserves.

I'm less enamoured of Yurter's direction. It is less rough and hectic - more professional -  than I'm used to from the other Turkish exploitation films, but it lacks the pulpy drive or the plain madness that seems to be typical of its peers. Intikam Kadini just isn't all that exciting to watch, which is a problem for a film that just can't deliver on set pieces or eye candy or depth of script as films made in different circumstances could, and has to live either on intensity or mood.

So, while the film is a competent piece of exploitation, competence is not necessarily a thing I (and I'm afraid most people deep enough in the claws of cult cinema to watch a rape revenge flick) am looking for in my exploitation fare.

Historically, Intikam Kadini is of course as important as it gets, granting us a visit to one of the truly lost corners of world cinema.



the jaded viewer said...

There's a Turkish I Spit on your Grave...awesome!

houseinrlyeh said...

They just couldn't stop at Rambo/Star Wars/The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh.