Review: Seytan (1974)

Written by Yilmaz Tumturk
Directed by Metin Erksan
Starring Canan Perver, Cihan Unal, Meral Taygun, Agah Hun, Erol Amac
RT 101 min.
Home Video Telavista (DVD)
Classic Horrors rating = 2 (out of 10)

Seytan

Today’s movie takes us into a bizarre subgenre called “Turksploitation.”  Wikipedia defines turksploitation as “a tongue-in-cheek label given to a great number of unauthorized Turkish film adaptations of best-selling Hollywood movies and television series, produced mainly in the 1970s and 1980s.”  Whatever these movies are officially titled, they’re usually recognized in the United States by inserting the word “Turkish” in front of the original movie’s title.  For example, we have Badi, or “Turkish E.T.;” Col, or “Turkish Jaws;” and Seytan, or “Turkish Exorcist.”

Seytan (1974) is a virtual scene-by-scene remake of The Exorcist (1973) that reuses the original movie’s soundtrack.  I found it to watch on Fandor, where the blurb about it states “those wacky Turks decided that maybe they should steal the script and make their own homegrown version of the film.”  I’ll have to admit, I thought it might be interesting to watch.  I mean, there’s potential with the story of The Exorcist taking place in a foreign country… if it were made to accommodate that country’s religious and social beliefs.

The problem here is that Seytan doesn’t.  It’s the American movie taking place in Istanbul, with nary an original idea.  It was interesting to watch; in fact, it was fascinating.  However, that’s not from the viewpoint of entertainment.  It’s from the viewpoint of disbelief.  Early in the movie when I realized what it was, I instinctively wanted to turn it off.  I found myself unable to do so, though.  Jaw dropped, I watched through the end, stunned by its audacity coupled with complete lack of creativity.

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Who was the audience for this movie?  If The Exorcist was not a worldwide success, or if the country didn’t have access to see it, I could understand wanting to produce a movie that the population could actually see.  It would have to be made strictly for those living in Turkey, though.  I can’t imagine there would be any value in exporting it to another country where the superior version was already available.  I imagine it existing in a version of Hell where sinners must watch bad rip-offs of blockbuster movies on an endless loop.

Another way to look at Seytan is that a group of neighborhood kids got together to make a backyard version of The Exorcist on Super 8 film.  All right, technically, it’s not that bad.  However, it does feel like an amateur effort, mostly because of the condition of the movie.  The film quality it not much different from any old movie you might find on YouTube, but in this case, I think it’s the physical state in which the actual film exists.  It’s described by others, in what little I could find to read about it, as “naturally grainy with poor image quality.”

There’s no reason for Seytan to make you mad, no matter how fond you are of The Exorcist.  You might think it would be offensive, but there’s just not enough effort put into it to do any damage to the reputation of the classic film.  I can’t recommend you watch it for any reason other than curiosity.  I don’t think it even reveals anything about Turkey or its culture to make it an educational experience.  Yeah, the only reason you might watch it is if the power of Satan himself compels you to do so.

Today’s passport stamp:TurkeyPart of the Countdown to Halloween.  Tomorrow… Greece!

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