Category Archives: Movies

Movie Rip-Offs : A User’s Guide – Turkish Remakesploitation

Wonderful introduction to the world of Turkish exploitation cinema. There is a decent amount of information about Turkish westerns. Turkish westerns are nuts . . . I mean, they are completely insane. Just like the Italian filmmakers of the time, copyright was not a major issue . . . but the Turkish filmmakers took pirating to a new extreme. Their movies are typically very tongue and cheek. At first they seem just weird, but after watching a few I have started to get into them a little bit. Too few have subtitles for English speakers, though I think that there is a growing community of fan subbers dedicated to making these movies more accessible to the English-speaking world. Great blog post!

Physical Impossibility

Many thanks once again to Gokay Gelgec of the Sinematik website and Bill Barounis of Onar Films for invaluable background information on these films and the culture they were made in. Wherever possible, I’ve referred to the best-presented and ‘official’ versions of these films available.

Cüneyt Arkin’s spaceship manifests from one frame to the next in “Turkish Star Wars”, Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (Çetin Inanç, 1982)

Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam AKA The Man Who Saved The World (Çetin Inanç, 1982) doesn’t make it too far past the endearingly handmade titles before it demonstrates the elements that gave it its better-known title, “Turkish Star Wars”. Edited into new Turkish scenes are newsreel clips of NASA rocket launches, instantly recognisable shots from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (chopped from a print in a different aspect ratio from the rest of the Inanç‘s film – making the Death Star an odd shape), and identifiable footage from Sodom…

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“Jaider’s Gang” .gif of great image from film

I will be reviewing Jaider’s Gang (1973) on my first podcast, coming out next week!

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Edd ‘Kookie’ Byrnes at Memphis Film Festival

Edd Byrnes

Toughest, ‘ginchiest’ stars come out to celebrate Westerns at Memphis Film Festival by John Beifus, The Commerical Appeal

Cool information about the career of Edd Byrnes. It would appear he followed Eastwood and Burt Reynolds to Italy to try and break out of popular TV shows and into film. Edd Byrnes starred in a number of notable Spaghetti Westerns, including Any Gun Can Play7 Winchesters for a Massacre, and Red Blood Yellow Gold.

Edd Byrnes, 80, was a slang-spouting, hair-combing hipster known as “Kookie” from 1958-1963 on the ABC private-detective series “77 Sunset Strip.”

A predecessor to “the Fonz,” Kookie became a cultural phenomenon. In 1959, Byrnes and Connie Stevens recorded a hit novelty single, “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb),” and fans emulated the character’s jive jargon. “I’m so far out I’m, like, still orbiting,” said Kookie, whose synonyms for “very good” included “ginchy” and “the maximum utmost.”

“Writers wrote all the jive talk and all the stuff I used to say,” Byrnes said. “It was all news to me; it was foreign to me. When the record with Connie Stevens came about, I said, ‘I’m not a singer,’ and they said, ‘You’re gonna talk-sing, like Rex Harrison.'” . . .

. . . Both Conrad and Byrnes have struggled with alcohol during their careers, but both men say they no longer have “smog on the noggin,” to quote one of Kookie’s lines.

Byrnes arrived in Hollywood on Sept. 30, 1955, the same day James Dean died in a car wreck, but he said the date did not prove to be a bad omen in a busy career that enabled him to work with such directors as William Wellman (“Darby’s Ranger”) and Roger Corman (“The Secret Invasion”), and that brought him a burst of renewed fame in 1978 when he was cast as Vince Fontaine in the musical “Grease.”

“My son always reminds me, ‘You drove out to California, you had $300, you were a high-school dropout.’ For a guy like that, I’ve been blessed.”

 

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More News On Tarantino’s Next Western Project

Tarantino at Comic-Con: Confirms New Western After All, Jacquline Sahagian at Entertainment Cheat Sheet.

Quentin Tarantino made an appearance at Comic-Con over the weekend to confirm that his beleaguered Western The Hateful Eight is moving forward as planned despite a script leak earlier this year that made the iconoclastic director declare that he would shelve the project.

According to Deadline, after a fan asked about the status of The Hateful Eight, the director said that he’s continuing with the film, though he didn’t give any more details. Before his panel at Comic-Con, Deadline reported that a source had told the publication that Tarantino is in the process of locking everyone in to begin shooting in early 2015. . .

. . . A few months later, Tarantino came back from all that controversy by staging a rock star-level reading of the first draft of the script at Film Independent in Hollywood in April. Actors present for the reading included Samuel L. Jackson, who played Major Marquis Warren; Kurt Russell, who played the bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth; Amber Tamblyn, who played The Hangman’s prisoner, Daisy Domergue; and Bruce Dern, who played Confederate Gen. Smithers. The other actors on hand were James Parks, Walton Goggins, Denis Menochet, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Dana Gourrier, Zoe Bell, and James Remar. The reading lasted three and a half hours and gave viewers the chance to catch a rare glimpse into Tarantino’s creative process as he directed the actors through their parts.

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Most Wanted Western Movies Presents Their Top 20 Spaghetti Westerns

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Good list, especially for someone just beginning to explore the genre. The top 5 are all movies by Sergio Leone and all of the films are Italian. Spanish and German westerns are an acquired taste, though I would imagine that fans of Leone would really enjoy the German director Roland Click’s neo-spaghetti western Deadlock (Trailer).

To check out my ratings (of 350+ Eurowesterns) start here.

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“Only God Forgives” and the spaghetti western

I really enjoyed Nicholas Winding Refn’s recent Only God Forgives (2013), though I guess I am in the minority. The movie was mezmorizing in the theatre with its rich visuals and incredible score. The movie makes obvious references to the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s and 1970s, so I thought I would poke around on the internet and see what I could find on this.


Interesting comment
in a short review Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives by M. Faust at ARTVOICE:

Gosling is also in Refn’s newest film, but don’t be expecting Drive II. Only God Forgives has a title recalling the 1968 spaghetti western Chiedi perdono a Dio… non a me (God Forgives, I Don’t). It concludes with a dedication to Refn’s friend Alejandro Jodorowsky that should have been put at the beginning of the film so that audiences familiar with Jodorowsky’s hallucinogenic oeuvre (El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre) would have some idea what to expect.

Looking more into this, I find this from an interview of Refn’s at We Are Movie Geeks by Melissa Howland:

You’re films kind of have a Spaghetti Western feel to them. A kind of Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone quality – where your leading man is a “man with no name”… the strong, silent type. I’m curious if those types of movies influence you? Where do you find influence and inspiration?

NICOLAS WINDING REFN: I get influence from everywhere, of course. I’m a child of cinema. I like cinema. I can’t get enough of it. But then again, I could be looking out the window, I could be staring out a plane, I could be going on a bus brining my kids to kindergarten. I could be hearing a piece of music. Music a lot! It’s very inspiring because I don’t do drugs anymore, so music enhances my emotion, which is what you tap into to be creative. You tap into your emotions. So, it’s all over. I try not to be dogmatic about anything. I don’t get up at 9 o’clock every morning and start working unless I have to. If I don’t have to I do it at night.

From Brent Mcknight at Beyond Hollywood:

With films like “Drive,” “Bronson,” and “Valhalla Rising” on his resume, anything Nicolas Winding Refn does immediately leap frogs to the top of my must see list, especially when it involves teaming up with his handsome man muse Ryan Gosling. You can imagine that as soon as I heard about their new collaboration, “Only God Forgives,” described as a Muay Thai spaghetti western, my anticipation meter went through the roof. The trailers, posters, and pictures, all indicate a quiet, tense film, punctuated by sharp bursts of brutal violence.

Ryan Latanzio at Thompson on Hollywood:

Before the film started, Winding Refn told us that while “Drive” was like “doing cocaine all night,” “Only God Forgives” is more of “an old school acid trip.” But this film — nocturnal, deathly quiet and far more sinister — is also a more sleepy psychotropic experience. It’s David Lynch goes to Thailand to direct a spaghetti western on quaaludes

Rebecca Baker, Rushes Magazine:

The latest creation from the Dutch film maker is the red-fluorescent-twin of Drive, Only God Forgives,where Martinez’ noted piece, ‘Wanna Fight’, combines influences from the Spaghetti Western scores by Ennio Morricone to the minimalist pieces by Philip Glass. “Morricone was a strong influence in the ‘Wanna Fight’ piece, as the pipe organ is the acknowledgment of the God element,” he laughs, “while Philip Glass was an influence through his style of repetitive-minimalism with the Synthesiser.”

Glass and Morricone were not the only influences to be added to Martinez’ soundtrack, “Nicolas kept talking about these Italian horror films, so I watched a couple by Dario Argento,” who is best known for the Giallo sub-genre. “I think Brian Eno and some other composers wrote the scores for those films. That’s what I like about O-G-F the score is a mixture of influences and not just one.”

Russ Fisher, Film: Blogging the Reel World:

It’s easy to hope for, or insist on a declaration. For this movie, “I am a spaghetti western.”

Refn: Then you’re like “With my knowledge, I can categorize that.” Then it’s like, you define it, but then where is the fun? Where is the experience beyond that?

Andrew Johnson, In Reel Deep:

This is a bit of a shame because the rest of the film is captivating.It’s not just Thomas and Pansringarm, but also the city of Bangkok itself and Winding Refn’s bizarre, fascinating fixations on hands and hallways and karaoke that give it some great moments. Winding Refn is a near-master at this point of the post-Western. There are no cowboys or Indians or horses, but the Spaghetti Western influence is painfully obvious and well-crafted, whether it’s mysterious, almost nameless characters, visceral scores or exotic, seemingly limitless locales.

This is the best review that I have seen yet on the film:

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Great Review of “Sukiyaki Western Django” by ETHAN DE SEIFE at LIVECULTURE

Here:

Sukiyaki Western Django is an embodiment of Miike’s inconsistency. It may be the one film of his that best encapsulates all that is good, bad and ugly about his style. A lurid, blood-splattered hodge-podge of a movie, Sukiyaki Western Django (hereafter SWD) is a veritable catalog of genres, emotions, narrational tones … and everything else .

The film’s title begs parsing. The reference to sukiyaki evokes the so-called “spaghetti westerns” made in Italy beginning in the 1960s, but it also works in the sense of the olio I describe. Just like its titular stew, SWD is a combination of whatever ideas, props, story ideas, etc., happened to be on hand at the time. (My preference is to read the title as part of a response to a question asked by a person named Django; viz. “Is this film a spaghetti western?” “No, it’s a sukiyaki western, Django.”) . . .

. . . I found the film’s central story to be fairly incomprehensible, largely because characters’ motives were rarely made clear. So it was difficult to ascertain whycertain actions were committed. (This is not necessarily a bad thing; comprehensibility is often overrated.) In fact, in place of clearly sketched characters with stated goals, Miike substitutes fragments of other films, not all of them westerns. The landmark 1988 anime film Akira is name-checked more than once. . .

. . . Even if SWD isn’t a straight-up western, it depends on, adapts and complicates the format. The film wants to be understood through that lens even as it upends many of that genre’s conventions. And that’s the same process spaghetti westerns went through a half-century ago.

I’m not suggesting Sukiyaki Western Django sets a new template for the western, but it’s impossible to predict the course of a genre’s evolution. Spaghetti had its day; perhaps sukiyaki’s time has come.

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Quick Review: Dead in Tombstone

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Hi! I watched an interesting film on Netflix that I thought I should put up a few quick notes on.

Jayson Kennedy has a great review of the direct to video Dead in Tombstone (2012) at his blog, basement of ghoulish decadence.

Danny Trejo in an action “horror western” was an inevitability, but the Western genre is deceptively complex. To produce even a “decent” example a convincing drama needs to be constructed around punctuated violence. The screenplay, penned by the duo behind the awful killer clown slasher Drive Thru (2007), instead strings along action sequences with scattered bits of shallow exposition. In that respect, Dead in Tombstone succeeds and shows how well a measly five million dollars, and major studio backing, can be utilized. The Deadwood aesthetic is in full effect with a western town backlot and actors drenched in that unnatural “readymade rustic” grit. Frenzied editing hampers most nuance of the camerawork, but the sound design is extremely impressive and the film never once sounds its low cost.

Matt at Ruthless Reviews also has a fun review of the film:

Holy shit, dude. An old fashioned Western starring Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke, and Anthony Michael Hall! What’s this review doing in the Shithouse? This just might be the best film of the year

I agree with Jayson that the acting is very bad and the characters under-developed. Furthermore, the gunfights are energetic but brain dead . . . too often there are dozens of men shooting in close confines to the Trejo, but they almost never hit him. However, while there is some Bad and Ugly to this movie, there is also some Good. The Romanian locations are great. Next, this movie feels like a real grindhouse spaghetti western ~ shabby, gritty, ragged and cheap. Most importantly, it not only imitates Western alla’Italiana style, but the screenwriter and director actually understood the basic formula of an spaghetti western. As direct-to-video American clones go, this is not too bad. In fact, I enjoyed it more that I enjoyed Tarantino’s Django Unchained . . .

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In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the mythical/ritualistic plot of the Italian western. Basically, the character is killed and then reborn in a classic ‘liminal’ narrative. In their rite of passage, they usually end of saving the town . . . even though their explicit motivations are always selfish.

Dead in Tombstone is very similar to And God Said To Cain and Django the Bastard with its Gothic elements and spectral protagonist that returns from the grave to extract revenge for a wrong done to them. Django Kill!, Twice A Judas, and Ciakmull also have similar structures. . . with characters ‘returning from the dead.” This movie catches that element well. However, in those movies the characters only figuratively or narratively returned from death. In this movie, Danny Trjeo repeatedly moves from God’s County (the town of Edenland) to Hell and back. This is an interesting variant of this basic story.

This movie gets a 6.75 / 10 on my rating scale. Its worth a watch if you are fan of the genre.

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Great documentary “K. Khan’s ITALIAN CINEMA: The Life & Times of RICHARD HARRISON”

From Youtube description:

Khalid’s Interview with one of the top stars of Italian Spaghetti Westerns, and EuroSpy secret agent and heist films from 1960s-1970s era, Mr. Richard Harrison, of The Invincible Gladiator, 100,000 Dollars for Ringo, Gunfight at Red Sands, and Agent 077: Spies Killed in Beirut [ Secret Agent Fireball ], and many other adventure films made in Europe and Asia.

I don’t know how you can be a cult movie fan and not have a fondness for Richard Harrison (IMBD, SWDB). He was in some hilariously terrible movies like Ninja Terminator, but he was also in a few Spaghetti western classics. This is a cool interview covering his experiences working in Italian during the Western/Spy movie cycle between 1963 and 1975.




If you are interested, here are two of Richard Harrison’s best Spaghetti westerns. Vengeance (My rating: 7.25/10) is a good film in the trippy, ‘acid’ western vein of Death Sentence or Matalo!. Gunfight At Red Sands (My rating: 6.75/10) is one of the best pre-Leone Spaghetti westerns and the first with an Ennio Morricome score. Sure, its a little hokey, but I have always enjoyed it. Supposedly, it had an influence on Leone’s Fistful of Dollars in terms of story.


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