Intikam Kadini (Naki Yurter, 1979)
[note: review originally published 24Sep2010]
Intikam Kadini (literally “A Woman’s Revenge”, but the only way I’ve ever seen the title noted in English is “The Turkish I Spit on Your Grave”) is quite possibly the single rarest movie in my collection. Turkey had a thriving sexploitation-flick industry in the late seventies; it was derailed by Kenan Evren’s coup on 12 September 1980, however, and both masters and prints of most of the Turkish sexploitation films of the seventies were destroyed in the ensuing tightening of moral standards. Intikam Kadini survives these days thanks only to a master made from an old VHS copy; you can imagine how it looks these days, but unlike most of the films of the period, it’s actually available, and that’s saying something. (It is rumored that director Naki Yurter was also arrested during this time for his role in creating morally offensive movies; Oyle Bir Kadin Ki, another movie he directed in 1979, was the first hardcore movie ever shot in Turkey. This claim, however, remains unsubstantiated by official records, as far as I’ve been able to tell.)
The generally-available English title should tell you all you need to know about the plot of the film. Travelers stop at a rural farm after running out of gas and are put up for the night by an old farmer and his nubile daughter (Zerrin Dogan, Yurter’s usual go-to girl for sexploitation). After a good night’s rest, the guys decide, for no apparent reason, to rape the daughter and kill the old man. She decides to get herself some good old-fashioned revenge on the men, transforming herself from peasant farm girl to glamorous lady of mystery (but not otherwise disguising herself, and these guys don’t know it’s the same woman, for real?), after which she travels around Turkey offing them one by one.
Two very important things to note, if you decide to track this down (and it is worth tracking down, if only because it’s such a rare example of what was, briefly, an extremely popular subgenre of the Turkish film scene): first off, the current surviving print lasts just under an hour (as in fifty-nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds). There are certain things that lead me to believe the original cut of the film was longer; most telling are the vanishing of one of the guy from the plot entirely and the fact that the big musical number (who says they have to be restricted to Bollywood films, yeah?) cuts out halfway through. That would never happen in Asian film, especially not in the seventies. Second, mercifully, the rape scene here is a lot shorter than the one in the movie upon which this is obviously based; we’re talking seven or eight minutes here (I remember the rape scene in I Spit on Your Gravegoing forty-five minutes, but it was probably closer to twenty). Yurter does take the really-annoying “let’s film rape as softcore” approach, but to Dogan’s credit, at no point during the scene does she look like she’s enjoying it. In fact, focusing just on Dogan, it may be one of the more realistic rape scenes I’ve come across. It jars with the way the scene is filmed, but in a way that makes her performance even more effective.
One other interesting note: comparing and contrasting the two is an interesting way to look at cultural differences between the US and Turkey. Can you imagine the guys in I Spit on Your Grave actually praising God were they to get food and shelter for the night from an old farmer? Of course you can’t, but it happens here (and that makes the events of the next morning even more oddly disconnected from reality than they would otherwise be).
While there is no way I can defend this as a good film, it’s certainly worth seeing if only for archival value. But you won’t like it much. * ½