Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Kadın Düşmanı (1967)

In the bustling streets of Istanbul, a series of brutal murders has rocked the community. It seems no woman is safe, as they are targeted by a masked killer. Police detective Kemal is able to work out a clue-The names of the victims all match the street they lived in, and he realises the killer is making an acrostic. Intent on stopping this fiend before he can finish it, Kemal must also keep his new girlfriend safe from harm...

Kadın Düşmanı (Woman Despiser) is considered by some to be a Turkish giallo, but is has more in common with the German krimi-lurid to an extent, but more heroic, as well as less violent and bleak.

For a simple b-picture, this tackles a lot of social issues! Misogyny among men and other women, the status of widows/widowers in 1960s Turkey, and the stigma of remarrying, or hanging around at night with men who are just friends.

The story here is pretty simple. A maniac is going around killing women, and the police try to stop him. Bang up job they do too, only getting him when half a dozen mondaines are in the ground!

The movie is well paced, although has one big issue. It probably should've only been an hour long, but it's 90 minutes. This isn't so bad a problem that I was clawing for the remote and praying to Allah that it would get on with it, but I was getting a little antsy. This is no more evident than in the scene when the imprisoned suspects accuse the peeping tom who's just been thrown in the cell of being the killer. They keep saying the same points over and over!

The characters here are quite well written, and engaging enough leads. One weird point is that there's an inordinate number of people with dead spouses in this movie!

Kemal and Oya are decently fleshed out, from their sad pasts, to their hopeful future. They're a sweet couple. Kemal's sister meanwhile is interesting, with her disability that maybe has more (or less) to it than she lets on. Oya's in-laws are total creeps, but they do get their more tender and likeable scenes, so they're not one dimensional assholes.

One drawback I have with the cast is that just about every man and woman in this movie looks the same! This became such a problem that when Kemal's sister kissed a photo, I couldn't tell if it was some lost love, or Kemal himself, and she had some creepy incestuous crush on him.

We get a few stupid character moments as the movie rolls on, such as with one of the victims. Even though her boyfriend literally left only three seconds ago/prior, and her very much awake father is right upstairs, she doesn't make a peep as the killer advances!

The heroine isn't free from idiocy either, like when a strange man is chasing her down the street, and when she bumps into a policeman..she just asks him for directions, then leaves! She doesn't stay, or tell him a possible maniac was on her trail!

The killer is an interesting presence, with a new mask in every scene, from a devil, to Frankenstein, and more, with giant skeleton gloves to boot! He's a little silly visually, but not too bad, and he does come across as pretty ominous, especially with the movie's effective lighting, his silence, ad his near-unbroken kill count.

When it comes to the mystery, thankfully Kadın Düşmanı thankfully has a healthy suspect list. I'm glad, because from the first moment I saw the bookish quiet young man with a fascination for his mother and a penchant for staring ominously, I declared "He's the killer!", but then we got a few more candidates with equally compelling reasons to be the murderer, so you're left guessing/on your toes. There's an impressive twist at the end too! That is, I managed to guess the twist itself, but this uncovered a bit of information that's staring at you in the face the whole time, yet you don't realise until the reveal!

There was one twist I was expecting though that didn't come to pass. All I'll say is that I was expecting the car crash to be the one holding the gun news  I'm hoping that makes zero sense unless you see the movie, and in which case you understand perfectly, and can see where I was expecting/hoping the scene to go.

The direction by Ilhan Engin is quite good. It's more than just a point-and-shoot affair, with some decently stylish camera angles here and there. The death scenes are well shot too, with the majority of them showing just enough. A couple do cut away just a tad too early than I would've liked though.

One could probably debate whether this is a thriller or horror. It can be hard to tell sometimes. I'm somewhere in the middle. On one hand it is more of a crime plot, but there's a masked killer, a sizable body count, and cobwebs aplenty, so I feel comfortable looking at it for the spooky season.

Kadın Düşmanı is quite a decent little movie. It surprised me with how good and not cheesy it is. No, it's not an undiscovered masterpiece or anything, and you wouldn't get anything out of this than you would any given Maigret book, for example, but it's still an entertaining watch, especially if you're a fan of the krimi cycle, and are curious how other countries handled the genre...

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