Saturday, 23 May 2009

Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda (aka Turkish Star Trek) (1973)

Behold the creepy smile of Turkish Kirk

Blogging... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the blog Crustacean Hate. It's continuing mission: to explore strange new flea markets; to seek out rare films and bootleg VHS copies of Turkish movies; to boldly watch where no man has watched before...

With people wetting their collective pants of the new Star Trek reboot/prequel, I figured it was time to go back and revisit one of the all-time classic Star Trek movies. I speak, of course, of Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda, literally "Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek". You see, Star Trek was a very popular TV show in Turkey and Turist Ömer (played by Sadri Alisik) was a character from a series of hit 70s Turkish comedies. Some Turkish film producers concocted the brilliant of idea of combining these two hot properties along with the magic ingredient... a blatant disregard for copyright laws.

The filmmakers shake their asses in the faces of the Paramount lawyers in the very first sequence, where they pinch the entire opening credits from the TV show, albeit tinted red with some surf guitar randomly inserted into the theme song. When we finally see the bridge of the Turkish Enterprise, it actually looks okay. They've done a decent job reproducing the uniforms and sets on what must have been a severely limited budget. Let's face it, the bridge of the Enterprise in the original series didn't look that hot either. They've taken a few liberties with womens' costumes in particular. Uhura's skirt is so short you can see her Klingons.

With the Turkish cast they seem to have done a pretty good job with all of the crew present and accounted for, but I'm not sure about Turkish Kirk. In the original series Captain Kirk was all man, punching and having sex with aliens in equal measure. This incarnation of Kirk seems, I don't know, a little swishy. Plus he's got this really creepy smile. Maybe it's a Turkish thing. The Turkish Spock is no Leonard Nimoy but he does a decent job.

The movie is basically a retelling of the original series episode The Man Trap. Like in the original episode, their mission is a routine visit to Dr Crater and his wife on planet Aurin 7. Nancy Crater, the professor's wife, was once romantically linked with Dr McCoy. However, once they arrive it is clear that something isn't quite right. Nancy seems to appear as a completely different woman to each member of the crew. She uses her hypnotic powers to lure away one of the redshirts (who, I might add, aren't wearing red shirts) and presumably kill him. When the crew discover his body she comes up with the ridiculous story that she saw him gulp down a poisonous alien plant, standard behaviour for any away team I'm sure.

Naturally Kirk and his crew are highly suspicious and it's here that the episode starts to veer from it's source material. For some reason the good doctor has a time machine, so he comes up with the unusual plan of transporting a scapegoat from the past that he can blame for the crew member's death. Naturally he chooses Turist Ömer, who is at that very moment involved in a shotgun wedding to the sister of some Turkish gangsters (or something). After some wacky comic sound effects and terrible special effects, Ömer finds himself on an alien planet. Well, actually I'm pretty sure it's Ephesus, one of Turkey's most popular tourist destinations, but here it's standing in for the ruins of an alien civilisation.

After he runs into some hot, gold-painted women in bikinis and a Tarzan-looking dude in a loincloth (who is a robot), he is taken to the Professor and subsequently palmed off to the crew of the Enterprise, who for some reason believe the Professor's ridiculous story. They place Ömer under arrest and take him back to the ship. Nancy, posing as a redshirt (who is lying in a ditch somewhere, drained of salt) also manages to sneak aboard.

By the time they get Ömer back on the Enterprise it's clear that stealing sound effects from the show has become too much work as people now make 'wssht' noises for doors manually. Once on board Ömer gets up to the usual stuff that passed for comedy back in the early 70s, such as sexually harrassing all of the female crew members. After a "comedy" medical examination they leave Ömer to his own devices and he gets up to all sort of wacky antics, such as using a "sound amplifier" (clearly a torch) to amplify the sound of his gut, causing a red alert. He also continually teases Spock with the Turkish equivalent of "down low, too slow" and when Spock asks the computer to clarify the joke it goes fucking nuts, laughing and blowing smoke. Well, you know what they say about dissecting comedy.

Like in the original episode, it's eventually revealed that Nancy is in fact a salt-vampire, a race of shapeshifting aliens that can hypnotise people and drain their bodies of precious sodium chlorine. Standard fear of female sexuality stuff. By this stage of the film, Nancy has already seduced several crew members and drained the salt out of their bodies, although rather than use her suckers like in the original episode she just rubs her hands all their face and then licks her fingers. Not a very efficient method, to be honest. Eventually they make their way back onto the alien planet to confront the doctor, with Nancy stowing away with them. The doctor escapes, but Spock uses his "seventh sense" (whuh?) to open up the hidden escape passage.

On the cliffs outside, Kirk is attacked by a fire-breathing space monster, a guy in a baggy orange costume with over-sized rubber gloves and a crappy plastic mask. You know some poor extra was paid a few Turkish Lira a day to sit in that suit operating the flame thrower and breathing in toxic fumes. The real Kirk would probably have fought the monster with his bare hands, but this weak-sauce Kirk cowers behind some rocks (even though the flames are nowhere near him) and tosses some styrofoam boulders at it to no effect. Eventually Spock jumps out and saves his ass by zapping it with a phaser blast effect that is scratched into the film stock.

Once they run into Nancy she turns into a hot Vulcan chick, putting Spock under her spell. When Kirk tries to bring him to his senses, they each pick up those Shaolin-looking Vulcan weapons (there just happens to be pile of them lying nearby) , which are called Lirpa apparently, and get with the fighting in what is a clear homage to the fight scene in the original series episode Amok Time. Somehow the fight is even lamer, especially since it doesn't have the classic music. Come on, you weren't squeamish about the theme music, why start now?

Finally, Doctor Crater unleashes his secret weapon... a whole army of Tarzan robots. While they punch and kick at the crew with the grace and skill of a beginner Karate class, Doctor Crater and Nancy argue about killing the crew. Doctor Crater wants them dead so the two of them can be left alone, while Nancy wants them to live so they can call in the troops and supply her with an endless supply of salt. Eventually Nancy turns on the Doctor and kills him, while Ömer fiddles with a doohickey that makes the Tarzan robots turn on eachother.

The final confrontation with the salt-vampire takes place in some cave tunnels. Like in the original, it's McCoy who is forced to zap the monster with his phaser as it pleads with him in the shape of his former girlfriend. When Ömer rushes in with the intention of warning the crew about the monster (who up until now was posing as McCoy), he does a triple take at McCoy and then another triple take at the monster. That's a lot of takes. Clearly the Turks were pushing the boundaries of comic cinema.

For some reason it turns out that the transporter is also capable of sending people through time, so the crew gather around give Ömer a farewell. He kisses them all goodbye (kissing Spock an unprecented six times) and then they dump him right back in the middle of his shotgun wedding. Luckily for him some of Spock's skin flakes must have gotten mixed into the transporter because Ömer has been given Spock ears and the ability to perform the Vulcan nerve pinch. He's so happy to get out of the wedding that his shouted thanks travel through space-time and onto the bridge of the Enterprise. The crew exchange a few "oh-that-wacky-Ömer" expressions and head off on their next copyright-infringing adventure.

But what of the eternal question that has plagued nerds since time immemorial (or at least the late 70s)... Turkish Star Wars or Turkish Star Trek? Well, Turkish Star Wars is far more incompetent, but as a result far more entertaining. Turkish Star Trek also loses points for actually trying to be funny. Sorry Turkish Trekkies (Turkies?), going to have to give this one to the boulder-punching fabulousness of Turkish Star Wars.

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