From the deepest depths of nearby space comes the Infernal Brains Podcast! Join Tars and Todd of FourDK as they explore the surprisingly universal phenomenon of Space Ladies from Outer Space! Featuring an extra-special Guest Brain, Carol Borden from The Cultural Gutter! We scour the globe and cover a vast variety of flicks featuring female alien invaders/cultures that run into problems when Earth men come and mess everything up. It’s a surprisingly populous genre that probably speaks to all sorts of subtextual psychoses, which means there will be plenty to talk about.
As usual, there are more ways to get the episode than you can invade a planet with!
Watch in slideshow form:
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Cat-women of the Moon
Missile to the Moon
El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras (Planet of the Female Invaders) Tars review Todd review
La Nave de los Monstrous (Ship of Monsters)
Blue Demon Y Las Invasoras
Uçan Daireler Istanbulda (Flying Saucers Over Istanbul) Tars review Todd review
Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09
Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10
Daigoro vs Goliath – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 11
Down the Rabbit Hole with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 12
Through the Looking Glass with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 13
Starman – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 14
The Brainiac – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 15
The Secret of Magic Island – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 16
Written by Yılmaz Atadeniz and Hikmet Eldek
Directed by Yılmaz Atadeniz
Who wants to watch a Superman parody where he’s a filthy old man and there is lots of softcore sex? Probably more people than you can imagine, hence the reason Super Selami exists and isn’t just a figment of your imagination! Aydemir Akbaş starred in a slew of softcore Turkish films through the 70s, many of which are probably ridiculously awful, but several of which are genre parodies. Thus the exciting Superman film that is Super Selami. There is also Astronot Fehmi, which is your typical weird guy goes to space and has sex with space babes movie, except Turkish.
This being Turkish cinema, the soundtrack is ripe with stolen songs: the James Bond theme, a disco Star Trek theme, and even an instrumental version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Several more songs sound familiar even if I can’t place them without help.
Aydemir Akbaş plays both the heroic Super Selami, but also the villainous Çengel. That way, he has twice as much screen time, four times as many sex scenes, and eight times as many eye rolls from yours truly. The rest of the roles are minor, and the women exist to either be evil or rescue bait, and all of them get naked a lot. There is a scientist working on something secret. He has a daughter named Ayşe, who is hot and Selimi’s love interest. The Professor’s assistant Nuray is a turncoat. Çengel has another evil girl named Emel on his payroll, mostly so he can have sex with her. Selami gets his powers from a mystical guru who lives in a cave. Everyone else is either a goon or even less important.
Super Selami is typical low budget smut, gaining interest only because of the fantastical elements of the Superman parody. It offers little of interest outside of historical curiosity, nor is it titillating. Luckily it’s so short, so my time doesn’t feel that wasted. A good rundown of all the times Turkey invoked Superman in their films can be found in our review of Süpermen Dönüyor. As usual with obscure Turkish fare, we went in native, without subtitles. But at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Death to all mimes!
Flying Saucers Over Istanbul
Alien space women come to Earth to search for (what else) manly men as all of theirs are dead. So of course they head to Turkey, the manliest country in the galaxy. But the only men the space women meet in Flying Saucers Over Istanbul (Uçan daireler Istanbulda) are two greedy idiots who proceed to try to sell alien secrets to get rich in schemes that might have played well in 1955 Turkey, but now are just annoying. Perhaps they didn’t play too well in 1955 Turkey, as the film reportedly did not fare well at the box office.
Rosie returns for revenge on the Jetsons!
Flying Saucers Over Istanbul was one of those films that was lost in the quagmire of Turkish vaults, even thought possibly lost until a rather nice looking print surfaced relatively recently. If you can only view Turkish films that have been scratched to the point where they are barely watchable, you might be disappointed this is too clean. I think it’s just right, there needs to be some grit and fadedness on the prints, but digitally remastered Turkish pop cinema would destroy the entire aesthetic.
The attraction to Flying Saucers Over Istanbul is the effects. Hubcaps suspended by fishing wire with sparklers going off are our Flying Saucers. The space women have their own female robot, who is little more than plywood with light bulb attachments. Sadly the space stuff occupies maybe a quarter at most of the running time.
Do you enjoy belly dancing? Do you enjoy two jokers attempting to sell space miracle potions to rich old women? Do you enjoy a guy carrying a gigantic obviously fake camera? Because those are the themes of the majority of Flying Saucers Over Istanbul! Never fear, they throw in a fake Marilyn Monroe to distract everyone.
As you’ve probably guessed from my whining, the non-space stuff isn’t what I call entertaining. There is an attempted theme of loneliness among women, the Earth women who run a Lonely Hearts Nightclub that’s desperate to attract male guests for their clients to hit on contrast with the invading Space Women from Planet Merih, who kidnap men forcibly to replace their now dead males. But that’s about all the contrast the two sides get, their methods are wholly different (kidnapping vs coercion) and their looks are totally different(the Earth women are old, the space women look young). In the end, neither side really achieves success in their goal.
Director/writer/star Orhan Erçin directed only one more film right after this in 1955 (the comedy Çeto Sihirbaz, featuring either a magician or a wizard depending on your translation), then did not direct again until two films in 1987! He later died in 1993, on his birthday. He has unfairly been compared to Ed Wood since this film has resurfaced. Flying Saucers Over Istanbul is a comedy, and much of the camp was intentional. Still, it’s not very good.
The fake Marilyn Monroe was played by Mirella Monro, whose name implies she made a living impersonating the American star. This is her only listed role, and she died in 1968. I was unable to find any more information on her, as every link was just cast listing for this film.
Demir yumruk: Devler Geliyor
Iron Fist – Giants are Coming is an interesting fantastic Turkish film, because it uses super hero tropes, but isn’t really a super hero film. There is a diabolical villain ripped straight from pulp novels, disguises, and people punching people like they’re in those cliffhanger serials. But the actual masked hero is just a disguise used by the heroes after they fake their deaths. It is very common in these pulp Turkish cinema films for the heroes to essentially be super heroes already, with incredible fighting powers and brains. Often the heroes barely get into their costumes, because they don’t need them. Demir yumruk is a nice bridge of the two groups, and I certainly didn’t think that what transpired was how the super heroics was to be involved.
Our hero Enver is a typical Turkish film hero male, in that he regularly cheats on his girlfriend (who sees it as an amusing quirk – when she’s not violently kicking the other woman out of the house!), spends much of his time hanging out with his bros and at the gym, and gets into long long long physical fights will many many villains without even the slightest of bruises. His girlfriend Meral is a tough undercover woman who can fight just as well as the men while still looking like a fashion model. She is capable of infiltrating all sorts of locations and can dazzle the minds of villains with her belly dancing skills. She even saves Enver, though later he has to save her.
Beyond the ganking of pulp culture iconography and characters, Turkish cinema also features songs ripped from other films, and Demir yumruk is no exception. Surf rock aficionados will find something strangely familiar from the cool tune blasting over the opening credits, and fans of all film will recognize scores of all flavors mixmashed with scenes of completely different tones and movements. Turkey had those YouTube fan videos down pat decades before YouTube.
The influence from serials is especially prevalent, there are multiple long punching fights, and almost every one of the frequent fights has the hero or villain barely escape to menace again in a few minutes. Characters are captured and subsequently rescued, while villains disappear with magic tricks or use gimmick weapons.
Demir yumruk: Devler geliyor features actors in yellowface, and this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered Turkish Yellowface (or even Turkish characters named after Fu Man Chu!) But there is more on display now than I’ve seen before. Besides the Asian gang lead by Fumancu, there is another evil gang of Russians lead by a guy named Zagof. The heroic heroes try to use the enmity of the gangs to their advantage, but it just as often plays to their folly. It certainly ramps up the suspense, we don’t know which gang will become the dominant one until events play out.
Tunç Basaran has been a prolific writer and director in Turkish cinema, with many filmns in the fantasy action genres. In the West he would be best known for his cult cinema work like Iron Fist, the first Tarkan film, and Ayşecik Ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde, better known as Turkish Wizard of Oz.
aka Superman Returns aka Turkish Superman
Written by Necdet Tok
Directed by Kunt Tulgar
Superman may have returned once again this past summer, but now he won’t leave, and he’s picking a fight with Batman! What a jerk! I guess we’ll just have to deal with his Turkish twin brother, who was more of a precursor to the most recent adaptation of Superman than we ever could have guessed! Be prepared for amazement, because Süpermen dönüyor is amazing. It’s pure pop culture reappropriation, done with less money that would buy a gallon of gas. And that is at 1979 gas prices! But enthusiasm for Superman is evident, and Superman fully fits in with Turkish pop cinema’s love of superior manly men who punch the crap out of dozens of evil doers without getting a scratch. You could argue that Superman is weaker, having gained his powers via his alien birthright. But the Turkish men are all awesome while being Turkish, and Superman’s ease of fit into the role shows that immigration and assimilation works just as well for Turkish Superman’s origins as it does for the American one. The subconscious parallel is strong, and speaks of Superman’s universal appeal across the globe.
Confession time, this review was originally written over 9 years ago, back before TarsTarkas.NET even used a CMS and I hand-coded every page in (awful) html. The review was terrible (even for then) and I never got around to fixing it fully, returning to it every two years or so, and rewatching Süpermen dönüyor in the process. I’ve seen it unsubtitled on VHS tape, unsubtitled on a DVDR I made of said tape, and subtitled on the amazing DVD from Omar Films. I watched it before there was an American film called Superman Returns, and I’ve watched it after Man of Steel came and left theaters. This review has been rewritten so much that none of the original version remains. The most interesting change was the reaction to Turkish Superman killing people in the wake of what happens in Man of Steel. I’m still against it, but now we know that Zach Snyder stole everything from Turkish Superman! It is time for this pigeon to take flight, time for the review to show the world that it is a super being! Time for Superman to return!
Superman is a member of the proud club of US properties that got their very own Turkish productions that were “inspired” by the originals. In this case, “inspired” means “directly copied”. Superman is among the most-copied foriegn properties by Turkey. While Turkey is not the only country to use Superman in unauthorized ways, it was the most prolific, with an impressive output of films both easily found and missing and presumed destroyed.
There was a series of “Superman” films where he is called Super Adam, and only occasionally wore a costume loosely (and I mean loosely!) based on the US costume. 1971’s Süper Adam, and 1972’s Süper Adam Kadınlar Arasında and Süper Adam İstanbul’da. The 1972 film Süpermen Geliyor (Superman Is Coming) and the 1976 film Süpermen Fantoma’ya Karsi (Superman vs. The Phantom) both appear to be lost, though lost Turkish films have resurfaced before.
Let us not forget 1979’s other Turkish Superman film, the softcore comedy Süper Selami. But in non-smut Supermanish films, the Superman-inspired (and Three Fantastic Supermen-inspired) Çılgın Kız ve Üç Süper Adam (3 Supermen and a Mad Girl) also came from Turkey in 1973. Turkey producers (and Cüneyt Arkın for one entry!) were also involved in two of the Three Fantastic Supermen films – Three Supermen vs The Godfather and 3 Supermen at the Olympics. The most recent Superman-ish Turkish film is 2012’s SuperTurk!
This was the second film directed by Kunt Tulgar (the first was 1974’s Tarzan Korkusuz Adam – Tarzan the Mighty Man ) Another notable film in his resume is the Turkish martial arts flick Ejderin İntikamı (Revenge of the Dragon) Kunt Tulgar has gained fame in the West due to his name having an unfortunate other meaning in English.
Süpermen dönüyor is an amazing film, and while not being the best Turkish pop cinema entry (that would be Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam!), it is definitely top 5, and is essential viewing for cult cinema fans.