In the first part of this interview, we learned how Ed Glaser, the author of How the World Remade Hollywood, discovered remakesploitation films as well as some of why so many of these films come from Turkey and Italy. Here’s the next part of our interview, which gets into Santo, post-apocalyptic movies and sharks.
B&S: I think we’re still getting our heads around sampling in some ways. Isn’t it interesting that both Italy and Turkey have a crossover with Kilink, which is also Diabolik, which is also Fantomas. These characters cross between so many countries but are nearly the same.
Ed: Yeah, absolutely. You’re talking about characters, comics, or photo novels that were extremely popular throughout Europe, but not at all in the States. So it’s fun to see these characters iterated and reiterated on. There were like a dozen Kilink movies that came out of Turkey that all had sort of different slants on the character. And it’s likely that as an American viewer who is interested in international cinema, you may see those before you discover the photo novels, of which only like, half a dozen have been reprinted in English.
B&S: Santo is like that too. I think it’s really interesting that in 3 Dev Adam (Three Giant Men) that Santo’s on the same level as the other heroes. His movies had become huge around the world, but maybe not as much in America outside of the Samson movies that K. Gordon Murray translated. But in this movie, Santo’s on the same level as Spider-Man and that’s kind of mind-blowing.
Ed: Spider-Man was basically unknown there. His comics came to Turkey briefly in the 70s, but not seriously until the 80s. So for a while audiences were more likely to be familiar with Spider-Man from the handful of episodes of the American TV series that were repackaged as self-contained movies internationally than they would have been from the comics. And that was still years later, after 3 Dev Adam, so Santo would have been substantially bigger.
B&S: We always apply our culture to others and don’t think that way. I just did it! That’s why I love these movies, because they make you less western-centric and explore how another culture sees pop culture and the world.
Ed: With Spider-Man, it feels like they simply thought, “This guy looks cool. He can be a cool villain. We can do this with him.” I think that’s really hard for modern American pop culture fandom to wrap its head around, because there’s a real obsession with canon. And at the same time it’s wonderful because we get to see, as you say, something that we’re very familiar with but through a very different lens.
B&S: I’m really impressed with your book because so many of my favorite movies are in it and that just makes me happy. For example, I love all the Bronx Warriors movies and I actually think they’re somewhat of the best of the post-apocalyptic genre.
My theory is that the Italians are the best at making post-apocalyptic movies followed by the Philippines. Of all those movies, the Bronx series synthesizes so many movies at once – The Warriors, Mad Max, all at once.
Ed: Hollywood studios didn’t fall in love with the genre the way that other countries did. I mean, you had the Mad Max films come over from Australia and then you had low budget versions from, for instance, Roger Corman, some of which were shot in the Philippines. But that was kind of it.
You didn’t get a ton, whereas in Italy and the Philippines, you have sort of waves of those films. Post-apocalypse is one of those movie threads in Italy, where one film launches an iterative process where you get movie after movie after movie, just like the spaghetti westerns and the pepla and Eurocrime movies.
B&S: It’s nearly the United Nations of exploitation because giallo comes from Agatha Christie and Edgar Wallace in England, which turn into Hitchcock movies and krimi German-made films and then those migrate to Italy and become giallo and then eventually become slashers.
Two or three years, the Italian film industry has taken one movie and made a hundred movies like it.
Ed: We forget that while there are hundreds of spaghetti westerns, the biggest years of them were a flash in the pan.
B&S: My theory is that the Italians are really good at it because they’re essentially just replacing the horse with the car in post-apocalyptic movies. They’re shot on the same sets from ten years before that are now destroyed and loners with no name having to come into these towns and rescue them.
Ed: There really is something to be said about the post-apocalyptic film as modern futuristic western. Even if you look at American examples like Steel Dawn, that’s just Shane set in the post-apocalypse.
B&S: So Jaws is a hit and Italy responds.
Ed: With The Last Shark, one of my favorites. And that movie doesn’t just rip off the story, but even gets cheeky with character names, like “Peter Benton” as a play on “Peter Benchley.” And with Vic Morrow looking and sounding exactly like Quint. I have a number of friends who love that movie too and they’ve developed a sort of playful fandom around Italian shark star “Squalo.”
Tomorrow, Ed and I discuss more Italian remakes, Luigi Cozzi and if riffing ruins a movie.
You can get Ed’s book, How the World Remade Hollywood, from McFarland Books. To see some of these movies and hear from Ed, check out Deja View: Remakes and Rip-Offs of Your Favorite Films.