June 23, 2012

Turkey Shoot (1982)

AFTER WATCHING FILMMAKER Mark Hartley’s fantastic documentary Not Quite Hollywood (about Australian exploitation films of the ‘70s and ‘80s), I came to one conclusion: I had to see Turkey Shoot.

In a near-future (“1995”) prison camp where inmates are set loose and hunted for sport, Turkey Shoot stars Olivia Hussey (Romeo & Juliet, Black Christmas) and Steve Railsback (Helter Skelter, The Stunt Man) as accused radicals who are sentenced to the camp and rely on each other to survive the conditions – and ultimately, survive the hunt as they become the “game” the camp’s leaders plan to track down and kill like wild animals.

Based on the scenes in Not Quite Hollywood, Turkey Shoot looked to be a ridiculously over-the-top flick filled with action, cartoonishly graphic violence, and ample amounts of gratuitous nudity. If only it were that awesome. The titular “turkey shoot” (hunting the prisoners for sport) doesn’t happen until 40 minutes in, and things are slow until then. Even during the shocking act of man hunting man, the action is lacking and the pursuits far from exciting.
Hussey doesn’t get to do much besides act like a damsel in distress (save for a few acts of savagery in the film’s climax) and Railsback is passable as the smirking antihero. But the most memorable character is Ritter – the bald, towering, sadistic guard played by Roger Ward. From the first time we meet Ritter, as he beats a woman prisoner half his size to death, we know he’ll show no mercy to anyone who doesn’t follow the rules of the camp.

Not Quite Hollywood made Turkey Shoot look like a balls-out, gratuitous, violent free-for-all worthy of Trashterpiece Theatre. But the frustrating reality is that it isn’t until the final minutes that Turkey Shoot brings the crazy, with people run over, cut in two by a bulldozer blade, getting their hands chopped off, and more – all in graphic, hanging close-ups that helped get the film cut by 10 minutes before it could be released in US theaters.

Turkey Shoot may have been shocking in 1982, but 30 years later it’s no more than a time capsule of its era…and a poorly stitched-together hybrid of prison camp exploitation and grindhouse violence.

Fun facts:
• Based on cast interviews from Not Quite Hollywood and its own DVD commentary, Turkey Shoot was a nightmare production. There were major cuts in both the budget and the shooting schedule, and the cast was put at risk many times (allegedly, some were shot at using real bullets for authenticity).
• Composer Brian May (not the Queen guitarist) created Turkey Shoot’s synth-heavy soundtrack. He also created a soundtrack a year earlier for another brutal, futuristic Aussie export: The Road Warrior.)

aka Escape 2000, Blood Camp Thatcher.

Is it suitable for your kids?
No. Way. People are beaten to death, burned alive, dismembered, shot, run over and, in one deliciously cheesy scene, a head is splattered via an explosive arrowhead. There are also copious amounts of male and female nudity, and continuous profanities.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Unless she’s fan of grindhouse, exploitation, or cult films, I’d say no.

Hey! That was my last JujyFruit– give it back!
Turkey Shoot
* Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
* Screenwriter: Jon George, Neill Hicks
* Stars: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Michael Craig, Lynda Stoner, Roger Ward
* MPAA Rating: R


1 comment:

The Guy on the Couch said...

It's a shame how often these exploitation flicks disappoint us, especially when our expectations are so low. More often than not, it's the audience who gets exploited.


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