The Walking Dead… Flesh-eating Cannibal Corpses….. the “Living Deprived”… or as we all lovingly like to call them, Zombies….
What’s so darn compellingly universal about them? Seems that they manage to lurch their way into the most unexpected places…. this time out it’s the exotic land of Turkey suffering the ravages of the “Zombie Apocalypse” in the new DVD release “Ada Zombilerin Düğünü” or, as I’ve been told it translates: “The Island: Wedding of the Zombies”. This one sorta snuck up on your Favorite Movie Lovin’ Catgirl and I only recently caught wind of it during one of my quests through the Internet in search of yet another Turkish horror delight. That one managed to escape me… but I was rewarded by encountering this bit of Zombie horror goodness. One quick search later found me a copy and now it’s mine to watch and review or all of you here at the ol’ Litterbox.
Synopsis? Well… I can give you this one, translated and cleaned up a bit from the Turkish original: “Erhan, together with five long time friends, is off to the island of Büyükada’ya to attend the wedding of a distant acquaintance. To commemorate the event, he can record their happy moments with a video camera he brought along on the trip. Viewed throughout the entire film, this camera captures the horrors that unfold in a most personal fashion. All seems normal at first, yet later the wedding guests become the victims of an unexpected zombie attack, and the whole scene turns into a horrifying lake of blood.”
Looks to this lil’ Catgirl like some sort of cross between “Cloverfield” and “Blair Witch” with more than a little “Diary of the Dead” thrown in for good measure. Still…. I don’t get many Turkish Zombies in my neck of the woods, so I’m not about to turn down a chance to munch my popcorn, cuddle with my sweetie, and get my zombie movie fix, Turkish style.
Wanna know if it’s worth a look-see for yourself? Then by all means, you’d better “Read On”!
Zombies have always been the favorite fodder of every low budget horror movie maker…. and even the granddaddy of them all, “Night of the Living Dead”, owes much of it’s gritty cult phenomenon success to the nearly worldwide adoption of the Zombie into the cultural folklore of practically every country on Earth. So…. is it at all surprising to find them lurching about the landscape of Turkey? Not really… but the question remains if the Turks know what to do with this venerable horror genre.
“Ada Zombilerin Düğünü” gets it’s start in Istanbul, as our protagonists drive across town to catch the ferry to Büyükada’ya, a tourist-y sort of getaway where they are going to party it up at a wedding and reception for some distant acquaintance…. just who is never really explained… We don’t even know how our heroes got their invites or anything, it’s all sort of vague and not truly central to the plot, so we’ll let that slide. One of our characters, Erhan, comes equipped with a video camera to document the trip, and it’s from his point of view that we see the story as it unfolds…. Sound familiar? It should…. and it’s all been done before in such other horror offerings from “The Blair Witch”, through “Cloverfield” and even to Romero’s own “Diary of the Dead”. Used here, the “shaky cam” antics allow our low budget film makers to hide much of the primitive gore effects and zombie makeups withing the crazy out of focus, hard to see shots used throughout.
Where Romero’s “Diary” tried to use this style to achieve a gritty realism while exploring the societal dynamics of the modern world disintegrating under the macabre disaster unfolding before the character’s eyes, “Ada” has a much less lofty approach and merely fills it’s story with the very personal interplay between a few stock character archetypes caught up in the events portrayed. There’s Erhan, of course, whom we rarely see throughout the film not surprisingly, given that he’s always manning the trusty video camera…. that appears to be his only role here in the story and his part could be done by… well… just about any interchangeable person in the cast…. and he makes no impression upon the viewer at all. (Not even getting credited at the film’s end credits!). There’s the token yuppie couple, Ekin and Deniz (played by Gülüm Baltacigil and Kaan Keskin respectively) waiting to take the plunge and get married themselves, all the while sniping and fighting with one another over stupid things. Aloof and cynical Murat (played by Ozan Ayhan), openly critical of his friends and still smarting from the breakup he just had with his girlfriend Gamze (played by Esra Rusan)…. who just has to show up at the wedding too just to complicate things. Ah…. and last but not least, cheapskate hanger-on Omer with a hangup over one of Ekin’s girl friends Betul (played by Canan Güven). You know the sort of hang-up we’re talking about here…. the creepy awkward “stalker” kind of hang-up. Yep… that’s our little group in a nutshell.
The zombie action unfolds much as one might expect… there are small things to give the smart ones some warning, like the ambulance that is hauling a stricken zombifying victim off a ferry just as our little group arrives at the port for their own trip to the island. Do they take the hint that this might not just be the fun place to go? Nope…. but then nobody ever takes these hints in a movie like this do they? The wedding goes off as expected, the bride and groom exchanging vows, collecting all the gifts and the dancing and partying going pretty much as one might expect…. until the first wave of flesh eating corpses crash the scene.
Although this is where the action truly begins, there’s nothing particularly novel or unique about it. We get the usual mindless running in terror…. confused shots by the hand held camera which don’t let you see all that much, and the obligatory bit where our little group gets all split up in the resulting chaos. We get to see some policemen overrun by zombies and eaten… lots of party guests being gnawed on by small clumps of cannibal zombies… and naturally after some running and hiding some time for our group to get back to the silly interpersonal arguing they were up to before the world descended into the “Zombie Apocalypse”. All the standard rules are obeyed: get bitten by a Zombie and you’ll soon become one, kill the living dead by shooting or smashing them upside the head, and it’s everybody for themselves… don’t expect help from “the Authorities”.
Basically…. that’s the major flaw of “Ada Zombilerin Düğünü”… it respects the “rules” of zombie cinema but doesn’t really put it’s own “Turkish” stamp on things. Other odd lil’ zombie films from other parts of the world all manage to do just that…. Greece’s “To Kako” for instance, or Pakistan’s “Hell’s Ground” really took the zombie and gave it back to us through their own particular cultural interpretation filter… making them somehow new and different, while still letting us recognize the source material…. the “Zombie” itself. Sadly… that’s not the case here.
So…. although this one does try like a trooper to deliver the goods, and comes from what seems to be an enthusiastic bunch of film-makers in love with the genre, Neko can really only give “Ada” a barely deserved 3 “Meows” out of 5. It’s a nice try… but discerning zombie fans would want something more original and with a bit more meat on it’s bones to truly get excited. The Turkish DVD is nicely done… in All Region PAL wide-screen format, but with the most weirdly done spotty English Subtitles this lil’ Catgirl has ever seen. They are accurate enough to allow watching the film, but come with lots of simple omissions in which whole sections of dialog are simply not translated at all… leaving one scratching your head going.. “Huh? What did he say?”But… at about 12-15$ US, the price is nice, and if you are a true Zombie fan, like me, you’ll probably want a copy for yourself…. if for no other reason than to say you’ve seen Turkey’s first ever Zombie movie.
Trailer? You betcha! Here you are… fresh from Turkey!