• Film reviews

    #509 – Godmonster of Indian Flats

    Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)

    Film review #509

    Director: Fredric Hobbs

    SYNOPSIS: Following a big gambling win and passing out in a drunken stupor, rancher Eddie finds a strange, large embryo on his ranch. Professor Clemens takes the embryo to his laboratory for study. meanwhile, a businessman attempts to buy property in the town for mining development, but the mayor and the secret society of the town have other ideas, as they wish to preserve the legacy of their town as an “old west” place for tourism…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Godmonster of Indian Flats is a 1973 western horror film. In the opening, we see rancher Eddie winning big on the slots and getting taken for a ride by some of the townsfolk. He is taken back home and awakens the next morning to find a large embryo. Local anthropologist Professor Clemens and his research assistant Mariposa take the embryo to incubate it, where they believe it to be the monster that has been talked about in local legends. Meanwhile, a wealthy businessman named Barnstable is trying to buy land in town to get the mines operational again, coming up against the mayor who wants to preserve the “old west” feel of the town to keep tourists coming in. These two main threads of the story are the main issue of the film, mainly because they develop almost separately from each other, only really crossing over at the end. If you want to see a “weird west” type of film consisting of a Western combined with other genres, you don’t really get that because the genres stay very separate for the vast majority of the film. It’s really difficult to figure out what is going on in the story or what the motivations for the characters are when there are all these unconnected things going on. The film sets itself out as some kind of western horror (judging by the title), but most of the film sees the monster stuck in a laboratory, and instead focuses on the goings on of this dusty town. There’s definitely a lot of effort put into creating the atmosphere of an old west frontier town in the Southern U.S., and it does set it up fairly well in the beginning, but when it comes to building a set-up and characters around it, there’s very little cohesion and direction to drive the film.

    There’s plenty of characters that are laid out and the setting is constantly built-up through the expansive shots of the landscape, and the dusty, isolated town. There’s definitely a vision in that regard, but there’s so many strange decisions with respect to the story that it becomes a series of bizarre events that are consistently inconsistent. The scene with the funeral of a dog whose death was staged to make Barnstaple look bad is just so absurd I don’t know how you’re supposed to take it seriously. The acting is also pretty dire so as to alienate the viewer from the story even further. The monster itself we see in bits and pieces until the end of the film, where we are treated to the form of a deformed, mutant sheep of some sort. Trying to make a sheep look threatening seems like a fruitless endeavour, but they certainly tried regardless. It always, however, looks like a sheep, and so isn’t that scary or horrifying.

    There’s definitely some arguments for it being a “so bad it’s good” film, with the pure weirdness in the story and it’s random jumps in tone that come out of nowhere. In this way, it is certainly entertaining and not boring, but you will be constantly wondering how all this fits together. I feel like there’s definitely a vision that grounded the production of this film, specifically in brining this old west town and it’s population and culture to life, but anything on top of that, from the story, the characters, and the whole monster thing are so convoluted that it’s difficult to take it seriously. Overall, Godmonster of Indian Flats is just plain weird: it has all of these things it wants to do, but no idea how to bring them together. The parts where the film tries to take itself seriously are offset by the incomprehensible plot, unimaginative characters, and flat acting. Maybe some people would describe it as “so bad it’s good”, and there are certainly some points where that is the case, but on the whole, I think it just falls short of having that entertainment value.

  • Film reviews

    #364 – 3 Giant Men (1973)

    3 Giant Men (1973)

    Film review #364

    Director: T. Fikret Uçak

    SYNOPSIS:  A smuggling gang led by Spider-man is stealing precious artefacts in Turkey and selling them for huge profits in the U.S. The Turkish authorities call in Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo in order to defeat Spider-man and stop the smuggling ring.

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS3 Giant Men (3 Dev Adam) is a 1973 Turkish superhero film. The film centres around Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo trying to stop a smuggling ring headed by Spider-man (or “the Spider” as he is called in the film). It may strike you from this summary that this is a completely bizarre concept for a film, and makes very little sense considering the characters themselves, but we’ll get on to that later. First, the story begins with a woman being caught by Spider-man’s gang and being killed by having a boat’s propeller reversed into her face (offscreen anyway, signified by the spraying of what looks like tomato ketchup onto the legs of a witness). With this smuggling gang stealing and killing all over the place, the Turkish authorities call in Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo in order to stop the gang. The story unfolds without any surprising or complex elements; the premise is laid out at the beginning and it’s followed through until the end without interruption. The story reminds me of classic movie serials, which consisted in a lot of this constant back and forth of fight scenes, car chases, and investigating.

    Okay let’s talk about the characters: first, Turkish cinema around this time is infamous for using characters and footage from other properties without permission, and I’m pretty sure this is another example of that. When the police chief first meets Captain America, he remarks how good his Turkish is for an American…except it is plain to see that he is not American, he is played by a Turkish actor, who consequentially does not resemble Captain America in any way. I wonder how much Turkish audiences in 1973 would be familiar with American superheroes, and since it is probably very little, I suppose they could get away with just doing whatever they wanted with the characters. The Mexican wrestler Santo is an original character for the film, and puts on his wrestler mask and cape whenever he needs to fight some bad guys. At one point he is seen wearing a native American jacket, which is a bit odd if he is Mexican, and I wonder if the filmmakers were just conflating the two out of laziness and/or ignorance. Spider-man being the villain is probably the oddest character of the film, as he is one of the most innocent and naive of any superhero. Here, however, he is portrayed as a ruthless murder, who stabs multiple people, tortures them and at one point sends some rats down a ridiculous contraption to eat someone’s eyes out. Perhaps the most bizarre part of his character is when Captain America is explaining that Spider-man cannot stand people who dress up in costumes (such as Captain America), and he will automatically attack them on sight. How does that work? Is he jealous that his ill-fitting suit is upstaged by other costumes? I assume it’s that. Either way, “The Spider” is a ruthless villain with absolutely no connection to the original character, Also his huge eyebrows are a major distraction…

    I can’t quite figure out who this film is meant to be for: the superhero characters might make you think it is a more family-oriented, as the original characters would have been, but the all the brutal deaths and torture (even though it is mostly off-screen) is definitely not family viewing. Couple that with the semi-nudity and stripper scenes and you’re definitely looking at a film intended for adults. The film as you might expect is a very low budget affair, with cheap sets, costumes and props being the norm throughout. Again, it reminds me of the classic movie serials, which used a limited amount of sets and props to keep costs low. There are some surprisingly good points though: Captain America’s suit looks pretty well done (in contrast to Spider-man’s green and red suit, which as mentioned does not fit well), and the fight scenes are quite decently choreographed, although clumsily edited in parts. At the end, the fight between Captain America and Spider-man gets incredibly ridiculous, with Captain America killing off Spider-man in a number of silly ways, only for him to reappear around a corner, and the fight carry on somewhere else. I assume they are all body doubles, but with this film it’s hard to tell what logic it subscribes to from one scene to the next. This film is ridiculous: it’s portrayal of it’s characters is completely at odds with the source material, the story is fairly basic, and is filled with odd scenes that make no sense (what was the deal with the puppet scene?). The film also crams in some raunchy scenes and gory violence that makes it feel like the film is just throwing all sorts into the picture without any consideration for a consistent tone. In the end though, you’re never going to take this film that seriously, and it’s worth a watch just to see how bad it is, and you’ll certainly get a laugh out of how cheap and silly it all is.

  • Film reviews

    #342 – Tourist Ömer Visits Star Trek (1973)

    Tourist Ömer visits Star Trek (1973)

    Film review #342

    Director: Hulki Saner

    SYNOPSIS: The U.S.S. Enterprise is visiting Professor Krater on a remote planet to collect some reports. While they are their one of their crew is killed, and Captain and his crew begin an investigation. The Professor wants them off the planet, and so uses a machine to transport a man to the planet who he will claim to be the murderer. Meanwhile on Earth, Ömer is being forced into a shotgun wedding when he is transported to the planet and taken into custody by Spock. However the investigation begins to get ever more complex, and even Spock’s patience begins to wear thin with the hyperactive Ömer running amok on board the Enterprise…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISTourist Ömer visits Star Trek (Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda) is a 1973 Turkish sci-fi film and the eighth in the series of films centred around the hapless roamer Ömer, as he causes trouble wherever he ends up. This time, he is about to be forced into a shotgun wedding with a woman who he says he barely knows. Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise is visiting Professor Krater and his wife on a remote planet to collect some reports from him when one of there crew is mysteriously killed. They have to stay and investigate, which irritates Professor Krater, who decides to use a time machine to bring someone from the past who he can blame for the murder. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for  Ömer, that person is him. Krater brings Ömer to Kirk and Spock as the murder, and they take him on board the Enterprise into custody. Obviously, the first thing that should be mentioned is that this is not an official Star Trek film (although technically it is the first film in the Star Trek franchise), and none of the original cast, crew or writers are involved in this. Then again, neither is it a parody, since that would have changed the names of the characters and such. The film also steals the footage of the Enterprise in space from the television series, which shows it isn’t too concerned with any repercussions from using the Star Trek name. The story itself also isn’t anything too original, with plot points taken from a number of different episodes and recreated. Certain scenes will be very familiar to Star Trek fans as they are pretty much identical to those found in said episodes. So it definitely feels like a Star Trek episode, but mostly because it copies them directly.

    Ömer is the typical fish-out-of-water character, as he tries to navigate the future he has found himself transported to, and generally make a mess of everything he touches. A lot of the time though, he is absent or in the background, as the film typically plays it straight and acts as a proper Star Trek episode. The actors that portray the characters do their bit to capture the original feel and look of said characters: Kirk has that sense of presence and swagger, and Spock has the Vulcan stoicism, and the actor that plays him is able to do the trademark eyebrow raise very well. Some of the acting is a bit rough, but that almost adds to the authenticity of replicating the original series. A lot of the humour is derived from Ömer being annoying and testing Spock’s Vulcan patience to the absolute limit. Ömer gets to play about with some futuristic gadgets and use them to basically annoy Spock again, so the film makes use of the setting for Ömer’s character to be himself, and it all unfolds pretty much how you would expect it to. Some of the humour will be lost on people unfamiliar with Turkey and its culture, but there’s not too much of it, and again a lot of the focus of the film is on reproducing an authentic Star Trek experience.

    This film clearly doesn’t have much of a budget or the technological means to create any spectacular special effects. The same three or four sets are used throughout the whole of the film and don’t offer much variety, although the on-location filming looks rather nice. The bridge of the Enterprise looks nothing like the original, and clearly they had to make it with what they had. This film is definitely a product of its time; when filmmakers could get away with using another’s intellectual property without being found out and sued into the ground. It does feel authentically like a Star Trek film not just because it steals everything from the original without making it into a parody or satire, but because the limited budget reflects the similar constraints that the original series had. The film focuses on being more Star Trek film than Tourist Ömer, with the titular character only serving as a minor complication or annoyance in the plot. Given that the plot itself is mostly cobbled together from episodes of the series, there’s not much new for a Star Trek fan to see either, although they may enjoy the references. Overall: pretty harmless, but pretty pointless.