Turkey’s film industry might be known more for some of it’s cheaper 1970’s illegitimate exploitation movies like Turkish Star Wars aka The Man Who Saved the World which used footage from Star Wars for it’s special effects scenes or 3 Dev Adam aka 3 Giant Men aka Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man. That’s right the film has a guy dressed up as Captain America minus the shield and a guy dressed as the wrestler Santo fighting a guy dressed in a bad Spider-Man costume who doesn’t act anything like Spider-Man. But Turkey isn’t just cheap rip-offs, the country actually has a long history of legitimate cinema.
The first Turkish film was in 1915, the documentary The Destruction of the Russian Monument in Ayastefanos. It wasn’t a very vibrant industry, there was less the 50 films produced from 1896 to 1945. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the Turkish film industry took off. Once the industry took off it quickly rose to become the fifth highest producing country for movies in the 1960’s. It was in the early 1950’s when the horror genre first appeared.
In 1953 Dracula graced the Turkish screens in Dracula in Istanbul. The film started off as a fairly faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s story but it veers off trying to be it’s own thing. It isn’t bad, the filmmakers were trying hard to capture the Universal horror feel but it does drag in spots.
There wasn’t many horror films until the 1970’s when thrillers, ghost stories and unofficial remakes started to become popular. Films like The Dead Don’t Talk, a really weird haunted house film and remakes of the Italian thriller The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and the famous American horror The Exorcist became Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder and Seytan. They weren’t bad but the plots were identical.
Like the trend in a lot of countries, horror has again become popular and there have been several made in the last ten years as Turkey tries to find it’s identity in the horror genre. A lot of the films aren’t great but they keep trying. Director Hasan Karacadag has been at the forefront of the genre pumping out films like D@bbe, Semum and El-Cin. El-Cin is kind of a found footage ghost story mixed with an evil Jinn attacking a group of people. Not great but it has it’s moments.