Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Örümcek (1972)

aka Spider

aka Turkish Spider-Man (although it has not much to do with the Marvel hero)

The gang of bald-headed, cigar-chomping bad guy Renzo is searching for a bunch of jewels and a golden statue of the Buddha that are hidden away somewhere underground. The closest they have gotten to the booty was curiously enough when Renzo sent his lawyer out to find it. The poor guy would have gotten to the treasure if he hadn't been attacked by members of the competing gang lead by a certain Yesim. Then the helmeted vigilante known as "Spider" (Hüseyin Zan) appeared, and every henchman ended up dead.

The rest of the film concerns itself with Spider's attempts at bringing Renzo's gang to justice (which is to say, kill them dead), Spider using his secret identity, scrapyard monkey Erol (warning: you have just been spoiled out of a last minute revelation for the very dumb), to get close to the gangsters and Erol falling in love with the lawyer's daughter, exceedingly pretty night club singer Ayfer. There's also time for some gang-internal double-crossings and Erol having fun with the sex-positive Yesim.

Ayfer is also quite prone to nearly getting raped or really getting kidnapped by Renzo's men, so our masked hero has some extra work cut out for him. It's Erol's own fault, however. Surely, you don't let the odious comic relief protect your girlfriend when you're out gangster-bashing and gangster-leader-sexing and expect everything to be alright when you return?

By the standards of Turkish pop cinema, Örümcek is a surprisingly sedate film. There are even two stretches of about ten minutes each where nobody is shooting, hitting or kissing anyone. The film also adds two nightclub numbers in its first third, all of which adds up to a comparatively slow pace.

Fortunately, what is slow for a Turkish film of this era is still fast like a meth-addicted monkey for most of the rest of cinematic history, and so Örümcek's director Taner Oguz still squeezes half a dozen action scenes, three or four making-out sessions and lots of scenery-chewing declarations into the direction of the camera into a very short running time. All these scenes fit into the 66 minutes of running time so easily because Oguz - like everyone else in Turkish pop cinema - did not believe in transitional scenes at all. The logic behind it is perfectly clear: an audience doesn't come into a film like this looking for explanations or a plot, but to experience as much thrills as it can give them. That's a lesson I wish the directors of the dumber Hollywood blockbusters would finally learn and cut out all that badly written melodrama they love to put between explosions. But I digress.

The film's action scenes are particularly nice. Erol/Örümcek is quite the enemy of gravity, flipping, flopping and cartwheeling around between shooting henchmen to death as if he had been bitten by a radioactive gymnast. The film's big finish features a very dangerous looking motorcycle stunt, very much the sort of thing you won't see coming from a more controlled movie industry than the Turkish in the 70s - and for good reasons.

On the cinematic madness scale, Örümcek is scoring pretty low. Everything on screen seems pretty normal to me, nobody and nothing is all that outrageous.

Of course, I'm at a point in my movie watching career where a film whose hero is a guy dressed in a motorcycle cop outfit with spider regalia who always appears to the dulcet sounds of the needle-dropped Iron Butterfly non-classic "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is just another day at the (imaginary) office for me and where the absence of bile-puking midgets in a film seems downright quaint. However, this doesn't mean Örümcek isn't a lot of fun. Oguz has an excellent eye for the hysterical punch-up and shoot-out, drops the needle creatively and even seems somewhat in control of his material. What more could I want from my pop and pulp cinema?


No comments: