Yarasa Adam Bedmen (1973)

I’ve never understood Led Zeppelin. Their songs are all one-riff bro-jams that last three minutes longer than they need to. But I just saw Turkish Batman and Robin wipe out a roomful of goons with a combination of kicks, karate chops, backflips, double uppercuts, headbutts, and somersaults. When everyone in the room was dead except for Batman, Robin, and Batman’s girlfriend, Batman said:

“Robin, you have some work to do, right?”

Robin left the room. Then Batman and his girlfriend had sex.

Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” played while most of that happened.

This is just a roundabout way of saying that ZEPPELIN RULEZZZ!!!

Yarasa adam Bedmen aka Turkish Batman & Robin is a Turkish analog of a pop-culture icon. Like Casus Kiran and Süper adam Istanbul’da before it, which re-imagined Spy Smasher and Superman respectively, Yarasa removes the boring parts of Batman’s mythology and replaces them with details that were more enticing to Turkish audiences. In America, Batman is a symbol of hope, justice, and perseverance. In Turkey, Batman is a symbol of greed, sex addiction, and infidelity. I know where my allegiance lies.

A magazine publisher releases a list of the ten most influential celebrities in Turkey. At the same time, the publisher sells each of the celebrities a life insurance policy for a million dollars. The publisher looks like Vincent Price as Egghead from the Batman TV show and spends a lot of his time petting a cat. One of the celebrities is stalked and gunned down in an alley. Another is crushed between two cars. The police are baffled, as are the subtitles (“We gotta move for enlighten this murders!”). The cops call in Turkey’s most reliable mercenaries — Batman and Robin.

After their demands for a million dollar paycheck are met, Batman and Robin fight each other in Batman’s cramped apartment. Then they go to a cocktail bar straight out of Jess Franco’s The Diabolical Dr. Z and watch a topless woman rub a toy snake on her crotch. Batman and Robin drive a car while wearing civilian clothes. When they exit the car, they’re wearing costumes. Sometimes Batman and Robin don’t have capes. Sometimes Batman wears an executioner’s hood. Batman and Robin spend an equal amount of time murdering villains and hanging out at the strip club. Towards the end of the movie, Batman launches an elaborate scheme to insure that his girlfriend doesn’t find out that he’s cheating on her.

Early Turkish superhero movies were a foundation for what was to come. They stole ideas, but not actual footage. And all of them, from Kizil Maske to Kilink Istanbul’da, had one foot planted in the innocence of American serials from the 1940s. But not this one. Yarasa is a sleazy, gutter-noir sexploitation rampager with no morals that just happens to have Batman and Robin in it. And the theme song from I Spy. Plus the theme song from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. On top of the full frontal nudity and blatant disregard for human life, this movie also has some impressive compositions and an off-hand experimental style. Speaker-thrashing garage rock wrestles with silent movie-styled piano rolls while jump cuts create black holes in logic and reasoning. It’s like Ray Dennis Steckler’s Rat Pfink A Boo Boo was spliced together with Anton Holden’s Aroused by a young Brian DePalma while someone held a knife to his throat. Yarasa is easily the most creative and non-boring black and white Turkish superhero movie that you’ll ever watch.

Also, Batman and Robin shoot people in the face.

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