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Some among you might be familiar with the name Bill Barounis. Based in Greece, Bill was the man behind the Onar label, one of the few companies producing DVDs of beautiful, rare and wild, wild, wild films that are of that genre known as , Turkish Fantastic Cinema. Sadly Bill, who ran Onar almost single handedly, passed away on October 6th 2011 following a long struggle with cancer.
So what is Turkish Fantastic Cinema? Basically in Turkey from about the mid 1950's to the early 80's film-makers were making hugely entertaining movies that were informed by their own culture but, were often “inspired” by Hollywood blockbusters, and they never let modest budgets or any namby pamby health and safety issues stop them doing it, no sir! NOTHING was going to stop those plucky Turks from making their own and with gusto: superhero films,how about Santo, Captain America and Spiderman (all in the same movie), westerns, action adventure, fumetti (Kilink), James Bond ( Golden Boy comes complete with Shirley Bassey sound-alike) , Rambo?(Rampage starring Serdar, the Turkish Stallone)...hell why not have a go at Star Wars! Okay the results are sometimes admittedly comical , Turkish Superman was never going to get any prizes for special effects, but I challenge you not to come away from watching these films with a sense of delight and wonder at their sheer exuberance, their inventiveness and of course the downright craziness...when you watch one of these you just don't know quite what's coming. Some people think that independent and world cinema is all about worthy social commentary , others want to take a break from grim reality and be entertained by films that just aren’t run of the mill Hollywood crap with the same ten actors ( I like Johnny Depp, but AGAIN?) and sappy ending ; films with fights and car chases, super cool heroes, super-bad baddies, and women who,even if they do live in a super-patriarchal society, look like they at least get to eat three meals a day !
Onar films was dedicated to the restoration and preservation of these (often) lost gems of Turkish cinema and ,by releasing them with English subs and lots of informative extras, bringing this unique phenomenon to the attention of the rest of the planet. People like Bill Barounis are today's unsung heroes of non-Hollywood cinema and an inspiration to anyone trying to run any independent venture in this “interesting” economic climate. Strange Vice know that we are privileged to be able to offer you the last of his catalogue - there are just ten on the site now and hopefully another three will arrive next month - we are sorry to say, that it's unlikely that we will have any more Onar titles after these.
List of Onar films available from www.strangevice.co.uk
Captain Swing the Fearless (972) Korkuzus Kaptin Swing
Action comedy / western based around the comic book hero originating from Italian fumetti Il Comandabte Mark.
Golden Boy (1966)
James bond rip-off....shot on location in London! Dig those sexy opening tribute-to-Maurice Bindercredits.
Kilink In Istanbul (1967)
Turkish answer to the Italian super criminal anti-hero Killing which was itself a copy of Kriminal. Nothing will prepare the uninitiated for the plot twists in this wild ride.
Kilink Vs Superman / Kilink Strip & Kill (1967) double bill
Next two instalments in the Kilink franchise. Kilink and his sexy Suzie the side kick return to battle his goody two shoes nemesis Superman and show us once again how much fun you can have being bad.
Superman Returns / Iron Fist : the Giants Are Coming double bill
Another fine example of why the making of all superhero movies should be confined to micro budget productions produced in Turkey before CGI became widely available ; something tells me that the Dark Knight Rises is going to seem like a trip to yawnsville after you've copped a load of this double whammy.
Three Mighty Men (1973)
More masked mayhem. I love that Turkish Fantastic movies, especially the super hero ones, often feel that they've been written by kids who just want to see EVERYTHING in the same film. You come for the irony but you will stay for the insanity!
Spy Smasher (1968)
This is based on the American serial of the same name. Our masked super-dude thwarts evil enemies to national security...but please don't ask me how. Anything but boring. If you're planning on taking drugs to watch this movie let me tell you now, you really aren't going to need them. Save 'em for the Dark Night Rises in 3D.
The Dead Don't Talk / Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder double bill
The Dead Don't Talk (1970) is an atmospheric hunted house movie in the creepy Gothic tradition of 1950's American Vincent Price vehicles and early Hammer. Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder (1972) is a reworking of one of Strange Vice's most beloved gialli ... guess which one.
Tarzan In Istanbul (1952)
Turkish Tarzan, painstakingly restored bit of film history and a must for any Tarzan collectors out there.
The Red Plume - Genghis Khan (1952)
This is a sword and sandal style historical epic, akin to the early Italian peplum . Like Tarzan in Istanbul it's less bizarre, and more of a piece of film history, than most of the films listed above. With it's comparatively lavish production values, The Red Plume is a example of what the Turkish film industry was capable of in it's post WW 2 heyday. It's sobering to think that after it's once thriving film industry fell into crisis in the late 70's many of Turkey's films were scrapped for the tiny amount of silver in their emulsion.
To purchase these titles please visit the Strange Vice website and view the “Turkish” section.
Posted 2012-06-20 in