Or maybe it’s an homage. Or a reimagining. But, really, it’s a rip-off.
And that’s OK.
Some of our greatest cinematic treasures were born of imitation. Whether it’s Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (Macbeth), Raiders of the Lost Ark (adventure serials of the ’30s and ’40s) or The Matrix (everything), our cinematic lexicon is informed by recognition. In an age when Tarantino gets an Oscar nod by leaking referential geek juice onto a piece of paper, we’ve come to expect derivation and deviation as signals that something is going to be great: It’s reaction by recognition.
Steal liberally from a film, and it’s an homage. Straight up remake it, and the Internet becomes so enraged, you’d think Spike Lee peed on a baby rather than remake Oldboy. “Is nothing sacred?!” the trolls will cry, failing to remember that Oldboy itself was based on a comic. But if the film was called something else—say, Brolin Thunder—fans would go nuts over Lee’s reinterpretation of Oldboy’s themes.
But oh, how a terrible remake truly inspires. This week at the Hollywood Theatre, you have a chance to see something doubly amazing, all wrought from the wonders of cinematic mimicry.
Turkish Rambo isn’t just a rip-off of First Blood. It’s part of a moment in Turkish film history when American films were banned and low-budget directors took to the desert to make their own versions. They’re absolutely fucking terrible, and terribly entertaining to watch.
The Turkish version of Sylvester Stallone isn’t just some frazzled vet. He’s a slick, Bond-like old man terrorized by bikers, crime lords, zombies and his own libidinous urges. And the film isn’t just a rip-off of Rambo. It steals from kung fu flicks, revenge thrillers, 007, biker exploitation films and horror. If it had Tarantino’s name on it, it would be an instant classic and an Oscar contender.
Luckily, it does have Filmusik’s name on it. The group had a recent hit by unearthing the Turkish version of Star Wars, but here it’s discovered something altogether more magical, obscure and considerably more rollicking. It’s a singular cinematic experience: On stage right, four voice actors provide all the film’s dialogue. At center stage, a full orchestra presents a pulsing score, complete with Ennio Morricone-style vocal yowling and ripping guitar solos. At stage left, Foley artists create all the noises, from body blows to car sounds to breaking bones. There are a lot of those.
It’s an amazing experience, and one that’s completely indebted to that cinematic language of recognition. It’s a remake that has way more merit than something like Carrie, which simply re-creates the original without nuance. There’s nuance galore here. Terrible, glorious nuance. This presentation shows that even the most horribly conceived rip-offs can inspire art beyond mere “homage.” Until Filmusik rolled out this wonder, we didn’t even know that a world without Turkish Rambo wasn’t a world worth living in. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 23-26.
SAVE THE ACADEMY: With most studios now converting to digital, old-school cinemas are under the gun, with Montavilla’s great Academy Theater forced to adapt or die…and adaptation, to paraphrase Darwin, is fucking pricey. So, taking a cue from every ’80s ski movie, the Academy folks are holding a fundraiser to save the theater—or at least to get a grip of digital projectors so they can keep showing $4 movies with beer and pizza. That’s why you should drop $55 and head to Sunday’s benefit, where you can score cocktails, participate in a silent auction, watch some live theater and vintage trailers, and help ensure that you can still watch The Exorcist for $4 in the future. Academy. 6 pm Sunday, Oct. 27.
- So, yeah, The Exorcist is playing. Academy. Oct. 25-31.
- Quite possibly the worst movie ever made—and proud of it—Troll 2 demands you see it on the big screen so you can scream, in monotone, “Oh…my…God!” Laurelhurst. Oct 25-31.
- The live-scored Hitchcock 9 series makes its last stand this weekend with The Pleasure Garden, The Manxman and Easy Virtue. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 8 pm Friday-Saturday and 7 pm Sunday, Oct. 25-27.
- Shit gets bonkers in The VCR That Dripped Blood, a collection of old-school video horror clips. Hollywood Theatre. 9:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 26.
- In other live-soundtrack news, Portland’s Beth Karp has written one to accompany the 1920 horror flick The Golem. Alberta Rose Theatre. 6 pm Wednesday, Oct 30.