Did you know that Turkey had a thriving film industry in the 1970s? An industry that was churning out 300 movies a year. Including gloriously weird science fiction and adventure B-movies. I didn’t know that, but those crazy folks at Mondo Macabro did, and they’ve made two of these cinematic treasure available to us on DVD. So tonight I treated myself to The Deathless Devil (Yilmayan seytan). It’s a masked avenger/mysterious crime-fighter tale, in the comic book superhero mould, but with science fiction elements and a definite hint of those outrageous old 1940s Hollywood serials as well. Like a combination of Batman and Flash Gordon. As for the plot – well I have to say I’m pretty vague about the plot, but I suspect the people who made the movie were just as vague about it as I am! It has something to do with a brilliant but eccentric scientist who invents a gadget that does something with aircraft. A remote control device, or that type of thing. But of course there’s a diabolical criminal mastermind on hand, and he’s determined to steal the gizmo. He’s called Dr Satan, and he possesses one of the finest moustaches in movie history. If not the very finest. Naturally the brilliant but eccentric scientist has a beautiful daughter, and naturally she and the hero fall in love. The hero appears to be a mild-mannered something-or-other, but it turns out he’s actually the son of the famous masked crime-fighter Copperhead, and to combat the nefarious Dr Satan he must become the new Copperhead.
Director Yilmaz Atadeniz might not know much about constructing a coherent movie, but he does understand one thing about this type of movie, and it’s the most important thing of all. You have to keep things happening. It doesn’t matter in the least whether these things make any kind of sense, as long as they keep happening. And they certainly do keep happening in The Deathless Devil. There’s lots of action. There are fist-fights. There are chases. There’s a killer robot. Poison gas. Remote-controlled bombs strapped to Dr Satan’s minions. There are glamorous girls. There’s also, rather surprisingly perhaps considering the country of origin, some illicit sex and even a dash of nudity. There’s comedy also, in the form of the hero’s buddy who has a strange Sherlock Holmes fixation. And it’s cheesy. It is so cheesy. We’re talking Ed Wood levels of cheesiness here. And it work for the same reason that an Ed Wood movie like Plan 9 from Outer Space works – because it’s non-stop fun and everyone is so delightfully enthusiastic. The robot is so lame than even Ed Wood would have thought twice about using it. Dr Satan has a terrific diabolical criminal mastermind costume. Copperhead’s costume looks every bit as silly as it should. The cheesiness in this movie is just so consistent! The DVD includes an apology from Mondo Macabro for the poor state of the source materials, but in fact the movie looks just fine. It’s absurdly entertaining and I loved every minute of it.