Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Dreck

This is a bit off this blog's normal beat, but since the new version of "Star Trek" has just opened in Turkish cinemas, it may have some "news" value. Either way, it's too much fun to ignore.

An article (in Turkish) in yesterday's Sabah brought to my attention a lost gem of 1970's Turkish kitsch cinema, "Turist Omer Uzay Yolunda" (or, in English, "Tourist Omer in Star Trek"). The film -- from which the image above was taken -- was part of a series starring a character called "Turist Omer," an urban hick who creates havoc everywhere he goes, mostly just by showing up. In this case, he somehow gets beamed up to the deck of a Turkified Starship Enterprise, where he meets "Kaptan Kirk" and a pointy-eared fellow named "Mr. Spak." Hilarity -- or what is supposed to be hilarity -- ensues, mostly as Omer chases miniskirted crew members around the bridge of the Enterprise. Some of the action takes place on another "planet," shot among the ruins in Ephesus and set to music from Pink Floyd's "Meddle" album.

A website called "Something Awful" has a great review and synopsis of the film, describing it like this:
Conceptually it is quite possibly one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. It has obvious comedy elements - namely the Turist Omer character and everything he does - yet it is a totally non-ironic duplication of Star Trek. Whenever Turist Omer is off screen, and sometimes even when he isn't, the plot and acting are deadly serious albeit unbelievably terrible. That makes this film either one of the most underappreciated works of genius of our time or one of the worst movies ever made.
The website describes the Omer character as a "surreal sadsack." He reminded of the Ernest P. Worrell character (star of "Ernest Goes to Camp" and other classics) crossed with the desperate and sinister lecherousness of Jerry Lewis. All told, not a particularly appealing or sympathetic character.

For the world's viewing pleasure, some good soul out there has distilled "Tourist Omer in Star Trek" down to an essential ten minutes on YouTube. Take a look (if watching in Turkey, you will need to use a proxy like ktunnel or vtunnel):

One other thing worth noting about the Turist Omer series is that the character comes from Istanbul's low-income and notoriously rough Kasimpasa neighborhood. In 1970's Turkey (and in the following decades), just the idea of putting someone from Kasimpasa in improbable situations (which, back then, really meant anywhere outside the neighborhood) was enough to generate big laughs. Today, Kasimpasa is better known as the place where Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan grew up. Who's laughing now?

1 comment:

David R. Adler said...

This is the greatest thing ever.