June-ing the Cult: Silver Emulsion and 3 Dev Adam
3 Dev Adam aka 3 Giant Men 1973
We’re halfway through this trip across a handful of cult superhero movies thanks to several of my cult blogging friends. Throughout the month of June, I’ve asked several bloggers that I know who often tackle their own fair share of obscure and cult films and asked them to each choose a superhero movie for me to check out and review. Thanks to Will from Silver Emulsion for picking today’s movie, if you go visit his site make sure to check out his thoughts on every Superman movie made, including many foreign knock-offs, including Turkish Superman.
Yo! This is Will from Silver Emulsion Film Reviews, and these days I mainly review Hong Kong Martial Arts films and low-budget horror movies. If that’s your thing, check out my site! Anyway, when Bubbawheat asked for a cult superhero movie recommendation, the film that surfaced in my mind was the trashy Turkish delight, 3 Dev Adam. I figured if Bubba’s gonna watch it, he should do so on the heels of Captain America: Civil War since both films feature Cap and Spider-Man. But only 3 Dev Adam can also boast a supporting appearance by none other than Mexico’s monster-slaying luchador extraordinaire: Santo, el Enmascarado de Plata! It’s a character trio that only the 1970s Turkish film industry could deliver. Enjoy!
This is very reminiscent of Turkish Superman although it comes at the subject from a slightly different angle. It’s essentially a fan film for all intents and purposes, yet it was given a proper theater release… in Turkey, at least I would assume so. This time around they don’t even bother with getting the characters or the story right, they just use the costumes and names to create their own completely unrelated movie. Here we have Captain America and Mexican Luchador slash superhero Santo who team up with the Turkish police to track and capture the notorious gang leader Spider-Man, or as they refer to him just the Spider. Again, there’s no accounting for character accuracy, it’s just an excuse to use their names and costumes. And while it’s incredibly bizarre to see these characters act this way, the plot makes no sense and isn’t helped by the confusing editing, the action scenes are occasionally legitimately fun. And where else are you going to see Spider-Man strangle a naked woman to death with a shower hose?
What’s most interesting about this film is that the action choreography isn’t completely inept. Yes, it’s a far cry from some of the best martial arts films, but Turkish Captain America especially sports some decent moves, as does Turkish Santo. Some of the extras aren’t always the best, especially during a scene where Santo breaks into what appears to be a Karate dojo run by one of Spider’s goons. During that fight you can see the men limply lean into Santo’s throws. But early on Cap gets to show off his agility even though it doesn’t make any logical sense to climb onto a rope draped across the ceiling and fight upside down. But dammit, it looks badass!
It’s also fascinating to see how this film draws an odd line between titillation and censorship, though it’s hard to know if this was done due to any Turkish film board, government censorship, or simply cultural lines. While the movie describes Spider’s plan as one where he steals several valuable artifacts, sells them at a discount, then re-buys them using counterfeit money, the way we see him get these objects is by murdering rich women. The film opens with one of these murders which is the most gruesome in theory though no gore is ever seen. He buries the woman up to her neck in sand and his henchmen carry a boat over to her with the propeller running to slice her face to bits. The second murder is the one with the naked woman in the shower, but the shots are always framed so that the audience never sees any actual nudity. The final murder goes even farther where he kills a couple who are having sex, though once again they are only seen through a doorway where the woman’s back and man’s head are visible before he stabs both of them with a metal rod. There’s also a subplot where one of the detectives goes to a strip club where he gets the idea for Cap’s girlfriend to pose as the stripper as a trap for Spider, somehow.
Spider as a character is also a rather bizarre concept. He’s the head of this criminal organization and we never see his face without his mask on except for two times. One is after he kills the couple and with no explanation he somehow is able to make himself look like the man he just killed so he can kill two more women. The second is when we get another bizarre sex scene with Spider and his love interest but we only see the back of his head while we listen to her moans of passion. And on top of that, when it comes to the final battle, he either has the ability to clone himself, or he has a bunch of his henchmen act as decoys so that Turkish Cap and Santo are able to kill Spider literally six times before he actually dies for the seventh and final time. But one of the strangest moments that he gets is when punishing one of his lead henchmen for letting Cap and Santo get their address, he ties the man up, brings a big tube up to his face, and releases two “rats” that have been starved for two weeks and are obviously guinea pigs into said tube so they will eat his face off.
The biggest downside to this film is the entire plot and editing. There are literally scenes that will cut off a line of dialogue that wasn’t entirely finished. It will also cut back and forth between two scenes seemingly randomly without finding proper breaks in the action that would make sense. The plot can be hard to follow especially when characters are not introduced very well. It took me almost half of the movie before I could tell which actor was Santo and which was Captain America as they spend most of their time out of their costumes. There’s also so much that happens that doesn’t seem to further the main plot, like a random fashion show that takes place inside someone’s house, and a fight with Spider’s henchmen on the beach where they are burying possibly counterfeit money for some reason that’s not entirely explained. But it’s still enjoyable partly because of the bizarre nature of everything that’s going on, and especially for the fun fight scenes and Spider-Man stabbing a mafia boss with a switchblade. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.