A Low-Budget Message Film
Acute Observer | Jersey Shore USA | 02/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Why did a sniper kill innocent victims in June 1966 Texas? Why were over 7,000 Americans slain or wounded by gunfire in 1968? Why was there no effective gun control law in 1968? This movie sheds a little light on a dark and deep topic." You can't say they didn't warn you!
This film begins on a dark and stormy night. The baron enters a cellar to look into a coffin. Violence follows, the film ends. Its only a low-budget movie. Byron Orlok is an old film star, he is retiring. We see the real events in the movie world. Outside a young man buys a rifle and ammunition. His trunk is packed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, as if to make a point. Bobby eats a candy bar and drives along the highways of Los Angeles. He arrives at a home that is like a TV drama about middle-class life.
Byron gets a funny line about advice to help the people: stop making movies! There is drama at the public land used for practice shooting. Byron's speech shows his talents. Bobby tells his wife about having "funny thoughts". [Why is this young couple living with his parents? Why does he call his father "Sir"?] Byron relives the past by watching an old movie on late night TV. Bobby is sitting in the dark at home when his wife returns. In the morning Bobby uses his pistol, then tidies up his mess. Something has gone terribly wrong. Byron decides to make a personal appearance at the drive-in. There is sparse traffic on the streets of Los Angeles. Does eating a candy bar have symbolism?
Byron tells a scary story that is older than Hollywood. Bobby loads his duffel bag and goes to his selected position high in the sky. Is that area still as open today? Bobby fires at passing cars, then flees when the police arrive. [His knowledge of wrong doing says he is sane.] He pulls into the drive-in where Byron will appear. After dusk Bobby shoots at the cars where the dome lights are on. There is real horror in the drive-in. Bobby continues to shoot at people. Byron limps up on his cane and disarms Bobby before the police arrive. [It is an unbelievable ending.]
There is a lot of padding in this low-budget film. The lighting is not up to Hollywood standards, but seems more realistic that way. This movie sheds little light on this dark topic. It is based on the June 1966 sniper killings at the University of Texas in Austin. That individual had a brain tumor that was undiagnosed before his autopsy. The "7,000 slain or wounded" has greatly increased since the numerous Federal gun prohibition laws from 1968. The question about an "effective" law is dishonest rhetoric, then or now. State gun control laws have been around since at least the 1850s. Drive-in movies are generally low-budget films because the movie monopolies banned their best products from these low-cost venues (except for second or third runs). Was this film unpopular? The actors did not have much of a future.
A forgotten classic
Dave. K | Staten Island, Ny | 01/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Targets is one of those movies that seems to have been lost in time; you really don't hear much about this movie and that is a shame. This is one of those forgotten classics. Going into Targets I really wasn't sure what to expect and this turned out to be a great and very underrated and creepy movie.
Despite being written and directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Boris Karloff you never really hear much about Targets, which is really a shame. This movie was far better than I thought it would be. Though often linked into the horror genre it's really not a horror flick in general. It's more of a suspense/thriller. But I sort of see suspense/thrillers as sort of a cousin to horror movies. They both play off some kind of fear. While some have very little in common with a horror movie while others do.
Targets marked the directorial debut by Peter Bogdanovich and it was a great debut. Targets was also written by Peter Bogdanovich and his screenplay was amazing. It's a great character study of a man on edge and on the verge of snapping. The characters are great and very interesting. There were also some nice touches of comedy as well.
The plot revolves around Byron Orlok played by Boris Karloff who is you guessed it a famous horror actor who is now retiring. In many ways, Karloff is sort of playing himself. The truly amazing thing is at this time in Karloff's career his health was very bad, but you would never guess it watching him on screen. In my opinion when it comes to horror actors Karloff is king. And this to me is one of his very best performances he ever gave, which is saying a lot due to the many great roles he has had.
Bobby Thompson played by Tim O'Kelly rounds out the other plot going on as a man who is on the verge of snapping. He seems to be losing his grip on reality. We never learn what made him snap, which does work well. The character is really creepy. He isn't your movie monster; he's a real person and that is what makes him so scary and of course due to the excellent performance by Tim O'Kelly.
Targets isn't an action packed movie the plot moves slowly, but in a good way. We spend a great deal of time with the main characters and come to care for them and come to fear Bobby and what he is capable of doing. The thing that surprises me so much is how well this movie has stood the test of time. Released in 1968 obviously it will be dated in some areas, but it holds up really well.
Peter Bogdanovich does an excellent job here as director; you would never know this was his first film. Each scene he gets the best out of it and never once lets things get boring. Each scene he furthers the characters and the plot and when it comes time for the action he delivers big time. I also loved the touch of comedy that was added and it works and makes this movie even better. Peter Bogdanovich also stars in the movie as Sammy Michaels a young filmmaker and his scenes with Karloff are often hysterical.
Bobby's first rampage about 39-minutes in is still quite shocking. The reason this movie works so well is that it could really happen. Bobby is a man having this psychotic breakdown and after his first rampage later gets a sniper rifle and begins to pick people off on a highway. These moments still work to this day and are still quite shocking. Like I said this is something that could happen and sadly actually has happened.
The final act is quite chilling as Bobby starts killing people with his sniper rifle at a drive-in and that drive-in is where Byron Orlok is to make a public appearance. That really brings the suspense to another level as the main characters are now in danger and we have spent so much time with them it's quite scary as we don't wanna see any of them die. It really is a shame Targets doesn't get the attention it so very much deserves.
This marked the end of Karloff's career he would go on and do a few more cheaply made Mexican productions all were released after his death, but Karloff sees this as his last movie. Sadly 1-year later the Icon would pass away. Karloff was only contracted for two days, while making the movie Karloff actually owed Roger Corman two more days of shooting and while making this movie, Corman asked Peter Bogdanovich to use Karloff. Boris Karloff was so impressed with the script and Bogdanovich that he agreed to shoot more days and did it for free.
As I stated earlier at the time of the movie Karloff wasn't in the best of health and despite that he still gives it his all. A lot of the times when an actor reaches the age Karloff has and their health is failing you can see it in their performance, but not Karloff. This easily rates as one of my very favorite performances by him and again there are so many of his to pick as his best. The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Tim O'Kelly as Bobby Thompson is quite chilling and Peter Bogdanovich and Nancy Hsueh as Jenny both provide great performances.
Targets is a classic of the genre that sadly doesn't get the attention it deserves. In my opinion this is one of the greats and it holds up very well as a chilling piece of work and Karloff was just brilliant. This one is a must see."