Saturday, July 21, 2007


Targets (1968)

Written and Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

Starring: Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, Nancy Hsueh, Peter Bogdanovich, Arthur Peterson, Monty Landis, James Brown, Tanya Morgan, Mary Jackson

One of Peter Bogdanovich's first movies, back when he was working for Roger Corman. Also one of Boris Karloff's last (he was in several other movies which weren't released until after his death. He filmed them while he was still alive, though, obviously).

The story involves an aging horror star who is planning to retire because his kind of film isn't scary anymore. Meanwhile, a psychotic young man with an obsession with guns shoots up his family and goes on a killing spree. The sniper eventually ends up at the drive-in theatre where the horror star is making a final live appearance.

It's amazing what Bogdanovich does with some stock footage from The Terror (a Roger Corman special with Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson - I have it on DVD, but I haven't worked up the guts to watch it yet) and the few days Karloff owed on his contract. The movie is remarkably well done, all considered. He did a good job.

It was cheap, of course. It could have benefited from a higher budget, and it wasn't the greatest of movies - it had that Roger Corman feel stamped all over it (in other words, it looked as if they slapped it together in a few days), but it's an effective and slightly disturbing cross between the old Gothic style horror of the '30s-'60s - which was just going out of fashion at the time, Hammer studios just petering petering out and giving way to the gritty, realistic slasher flicks of the 'modern' era - and real life horror.

Nifty. I'd better watch myself, I'm starting to sound like I have a point. Anyway, I loved Karloff, who was basically playing himself, but did a very good job of it nonetheless. I always love him, but he was so very old in this movie. It cleft my heart in twain. He needed an oxygen mask and his legs were all shaky. It was awful. I mean, he died only about a year later.

But never mind that little quirk (there just aren't any living horror actors worthy of my obsessive love). It was a good movie. I gather that it has a cult following. I can understand that. It's very good. I loved it.


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