Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Produced by Peter Bogdanovich
Written by Peter Bogdanovich
Director of Photograpy Laszlo Kovacs
Cast: Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, Nancy Hsueh & Peter Bogdanovich
1968/89 mins/Color/Dolby Mono
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Paramount Home Entertainment DVD
In the politically correct environment in which we now live, we've seen recently examples where Hollywood was skittish about unleashing products which dealt with certain types of gun violence. There has been a particular aversion to sniper stories, such as PHONE BOOTH or the "Earshot" episode of BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. (Although the postponement of each of these entries was tied to a key event in which many people died.) So, with that in mind, it's nice to see Paramount Home Entertainment had the courage to bring Peter Bogdanovich's feature-film debut TARGETS to DVD, despite the film's sniper angle.
TARGETS is an ingenious co-mingling of two seemingly separate storylines. Legendary horror film actor Byron Orlok (Boris Karloff) has just completed work on his latest picture (which looks surprising like Corman's THE TERROR). Following a screening of the film, he surprises everyone by announcing his retirement. He then heads to his luxury suite, with his assistant Jenny (Nancy Hsueh) in tow. Meanwhile, Bobby Thompson (Tim O'Kelly) is leading an apparently idealic suburban life with his wife and parents. But, Bobby, who is an excellent marksman, carries a dark secret, and has an urge to kill. So, he loads his car with guns and ammo, and sets off on a killing spree, in which he starts shooting at random cars on the freeway. At the same time, Orlok is meeting with the director of his last film, Sam (Bogdanovich), who is attempting to convince Orlok to make just one more movie. While Sam can't win that argument, Orlok is convinced to make a public appearance at a drive-in to promote his latest movie. Little does he know that the deadly Bobby will be at that drive-in as well, and that the terror won't be on the movie screen.
In the introduction included on this DVD, director/writer Bogdanovich explains that Corman gave him twenty minutes of THE TERROR to use, that he shot with Karloff for two days, and that he had to fill in the rest of the film with something else. If one goes into TARGETS armed with this knowledge, these facts become very apparent while watching the film. At 89-minutes, the film is too long and has many scenes (especially one of Bobby driving) that fill like padding. Also, there are a few scenes with Bobby's family that go on too long. It's obvious that Bogdanovich was attempting to get a feature-length film from his footage. These extranenous scenes hurt the pacing of the film and undermine some of the suspense that Bogdanovich was trying to create.
But, once one looks past those issues, TARGETS is a very good film. For one thing, you've got Karloff basically playing himself, but also giving a performance that was like no other in his career. Here is a man who always played the heavy in some respect, playing a horror film star who is tired and wants to leave the business behind. Bogdanovich does a great job of weaving together the stories of Orlok and Bobby. Here are two men who couldn't be more different, yet they both want out of their respective lives -- they just choose different ways of going about it. O'Kelly (who looks just like Matt Damon) is very good as Bobby, the clean-cut young man who snaps. Equally good is Bogdanovich, who like Karloff, may be playing himself. Be warned, everything that I'd ever read about TARGETS suggested that the situation at the drive-in made up the bulk of the film. In truth, only the last 15-minutes or so of the movie take place there. TARGETS may seem very slow by todays standards, but the film has a good story to tell and it pays hommage to one of the great masters of horror.
TARGETS comes to DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The Technicolor film looks very good on this DVD, considering its age. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a fine amount of grain. The colors look fine, but there are some visible defects from the source print. Evidence of artifacting shows up from time to time, but it isn't major. The disc contains a Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack, which provides clear dialogue and music, but isn't very remarkable.
The DVD contains two extra features. We start with an introduction to the film by Bogdanovich. In this 13-minute segment, he explains how the idea came about and how the film was shot. Despite the brief length of this featurette, Bogdanovich divulges a great deal of information. The other extra is an audio commentary from Bogdanvoich, who makes scene-specific comments throughout the film. Some of the information is repeated from the introduction, but most of it is new and interesting. He has an amazing recollection of the film's production, and clearly has an affection for the movie.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©