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The Executioner (1975)
"Cellat" (original title)

 -  Action  -  1975 (Turkey)
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Title: The Executioner (1975)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Serdar Gökhan
Emel Özden
Melek Ayberk ...
(as Melek Aybek)
Reha Yurdakul
Oktar Durukan
Tarik Simsek
Ibrahim Kurt
Yesim Yükselen
Senar Seven
Nesrin Yesilyurt
Ihsan Gedik
Ahmet Kostarika
Hüseyin Zan
Erdogan Seren


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Release Date:

1975 (Turkey)  »

Also Known As:

Turkish Death Wish  »

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A Hot Mess
18 December 2008 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

One of the nifty things about Turkish cult cinema from the 60s & 70s has to do with their distribution methods. Very quickly, Turkish impresarios realized that it was far cheaper to make their own versions of high profile Hollywood style A-list movies than it was to actually pay to import the real McCoy and show them legally. The result was two or three decades of endearingly goofy ultra low budget ripoff pictures that just happened to have the same stories as STAR WARS, SUPERMAN, TARZAN, etc. The idea wasn't so much to make shot-for-shot remakes as it was to gather some local talent both in front of and behind the cameras (usually 16mm) and make something that might capture the basic spirit of the original, even if the end results look sort of like a 12th grade drama club's version of BEN HUR, or whatever, with like four guys riding donkey carts around an old motorbike dirt track for the big chariot race instead of a cast of thousands in a historically accurate colleseum re- creation.

Usually they would take their cue from whatever the big hit of the day was, and in 1975 no action movie was a bigger hit than DEATH WISH with Charles Bronson, a film I have never really cared for. They found themselves a relatively charismatic local actor (Serdar Gorkhan) who was able to ape Bronson sufficiently and came up with a similar plot (Liberal intellectual goes on a killing rampage after his wife & sister are raped and mauled by a pack of doper scumbags) that just happens to employ similar situations (the bundle of change in the sock, the gift of a pistol from a business associate, a puking scene after the first shooting) to cover the major plot turns of the original, then filled in the blanks with their own solutions.

One of the things that works really well about this "Turkish Death Wish" is the use of locations in the marvelously atmospheric crumbling back alleys and rat infested cloisters of old Istanbul, as The Executioner -- as he is dubbed by the local media -- goes out every night to set himself up as a target for the various low-lifes and dregs of society, then blow them away in a nonstop orgy of bloodletting that may actually have a larger body count than the original Michael Winner film. What's missing of course is the social commentary, or rather that wasn't so much the focus of the movie, since on the surface Bronson's film only appeared to be about him going out & shooting muggers. The plot stays loyal to that basic premise to the exclusion of all other concerns, more or less, with some exploitative navel gazing and nudity thrown in for good measure.

Along the way we get the usual zany Turkish cult mayhem scenes, some of which are genuinely amusing such as the scene where the trio of dirtbags steals an old woman's cabbage and toss it back and forth while she shakes her fist and screams at them to give her back her cabbage. Then there is a scene where he wires up one of the goons to fry like a short circuited Christmas Tree that has to be one of the funniest executions of a murdering rapist ever filmed ... I guess you just sort of have to see it for yourself. The film also actually manages to anticipate Bronson & Winner's DEATH WISH 2 in that Gorkhan eventually sets out to take revenge on those who ruined his life, where Bronson was more just targeting everyday thugs in his first DEATH WISH outing. We of course end up rooting for Gorkhan even though like Bronson he's acting outside of the law, and if the ending is to be believed nobody really gives a damn because his reign of terror over lawlessness was exactly what was called for. Dirty Harry rocks the Casbah, if you will.

Is the movie any good, however? Probably not on a strictly technical or academic level though some of it is rather stylishly photographed, but then again it was only made for a few thousand dollars as a bit of ephemeralia which was never intended to be around much longer than the DEATH WISH craze itself. The film would be shown as a shaky, scratchy 16mm print playing in nicotine dens to audiences who just wanted to see the latest movie, and it was probably as well received as Bronson's film was here. If anything I find this to be a much more honest movie because it doesn't have aspirations to be anything more than cheap exploitation, and succeeds marvelously just by being what it is: A scummy, violent, ghastly little film that was here one week & gone the next, replaced by whatever the new craze was. Can't wait to see the Turkish "Jaws".


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