Sunday, December 4, 2011

Targets (1968)

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Starring: Boris Karloff, Peter Bogdanovich, Nancy Hsueh, Tim O'Kelly, Arthur Peterson, Monte Landis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: TARGETS are people...and you could be one of them!

Plot: Peter Bogdanovich's debut feature is a thinly disguised account of ex-marine Charles Whitman, who, after murdering his mother and his wife, armed himself with a number of rifles and handguns and on a sunny 1966 Texas morning, began a shooting spree that killed 14 people and wounded 32. Bogdanovich's version tells two stories concurrently, about an aging horror-film star who feels that his type of movie monster has become passé, and the other about a father-hating gun freak who goes on a rampage to get even with his dad by shooting at people from the top of a water tower and then from behind a drive-in movie screen.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

I don't often make blind purchases when it comes to movies. I've got craploads of flicks on my shelf that I've yet to see but I bought them with a pretty damn good idea that I will like them but all I knew about TARGETS wash the cast, director and it seemed like a good enough story that I would dig. How true that is. Not only are the circumstances for why this movie exists in the first place fascinating as hell, it's also has one fantastic performance by the aging Karloff who wouldn't see the end of the following year.

The story goes that Roger Corman had Karloff contracted for two more days after filming THE TERROR and Corman told Bogdonavich that he could make any film he wanted to but he had to utilize the rest of Karloff's time as well as use extra footage from THE TERROR. Karloff liked the script so much that he gave Bogdonavich an additional 3 days for no extra pay.

Karloff is so much fun to watch. His performance has more life in it than much of what he did for the previous decade. There are times when you can tell he's revelling in finally having a role that doesn't require him to be the boogeyman. It's inspiring to watch. What's surprising is that the story is great, really great. What Bogdonavich created out of necessity grabs you by the short and curlies. It really feels ahead of its time by how in-your-face the brutality is. Tim O'Kelly (as Bobby, the murdering nutter) is fun to watch as he unfolds from something out of the LEAVE IT TO BEAVER household to Lee Harvey Oswald...not to mention cold and creepy.

There's great tension built from the first few minutes until the shocking conclusion. Even though it's been many years since I saw it I didn't remember all of the details which was great because it gave me a little bit of the sense of awe that I felt from the first time. This is a splendid picture with an awful lot of valid reasons to watch besides the ones I listed. Check this one out and then have a blast with the extras.

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