Targets (1968)
By: Paul Ryan on July 17, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Paramount (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0, French DD 2.0, German DD 2.0, Itallian DD 2.0, Spanish DD 2.0. English, English (FHI), Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish Subtitles. 87 minutes
The Movie
Director: Peter Bogdanovich Starring: Tim O'Kelly, Boris Karloff, Peter Bogdanovich, Nancy Hsueh
Screenplay: Peter Bogdanovich
Country: USA
Peter Bogdanovich's Targets represents a transitional moment from one kind of screen horror to another. An extremely tense, insightful and (sadly) still relevant commentary on gun violence in American society, this film has been very hard to come by in Australia, making its DVD release extremely welcome indeed. The film also features one of the final performances of the great Boris Karloff, who is absolutely wonderful, despite his poor state of health at the time.

Horror movie star Byron Orlok announces his retirement, following the completion of his latest Gothic horror opus, The Terror (represented by footage from Karloff's 1963 film of the same name, directed by Roger Corman), much to the dismay of budding filmmaker Sammy Michaels (Bogdanovich), whose latest screenplay hinges on Orlok's participation. Believing his own brand of old-style horror to be increasingly irrelevant against the ongoing horrors of everyday life, Orlok is ardently pursed by the young director, who urges him to reconsider. At the same time, we are introduced to fresh-faced Bobby Thompson (Tim O'Kelly), a pleasant, all-American male, living with his wife and parents in a drab suburban home. He also has quite a gun collection, and something troubling seems to slowly bubbling away beneath his cheerful façade. One afternoon, Booby writes a disturbing letter in red type, shoots his wife, mother and brother dead, and drives into the San Fernando Valley, with a car boot full of firearms. Several victims later, Bobby finds himself hiding out at the very same drive in where The Terror is holding it's premiere, and where a reluctant Orlok is making a personal appearance….

Targets represented Bogadanovich's directorial debut (Ignoring his pseudononymous work on the Corman quickie Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, that is) and it's a very impressive debut for the future Oscar-nominee. Funded by Roger Corman and shot in his rapid fire, guerilla style, it's an intelligent, thoughtful film with plenty to say about cinema, culture and the state of contemporary society. The cast are uniformly excellent, particularly O'Kelly as the Charles Whitman-inspired killer, but it is Karloff, in a funny, moving performance, who makes the film his own.
A very good Anamorphic PAL transfer graces this DVD, in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While there are a fair few nicks and scratches to be found this is otherwise very sharp and colourful. Bogdanovich mentions on the commentary that the color timing in this print is a bit off, but it's really not that noticeable. It is also worth noting that the re-used footage from The Terror looks the best I have ever seen it on DVD, which is kind of sad really…
Dolby Mono, which is perfectly fine for a film of this vintage. Additional language tracks in French, German and Spanish are also featured.
Extra Features
Introduction by Peter Bogdanovich (13.10m ff): Respected DVD producer Laurent Bouzerau presents a fact-filled and interesting interview-style introduction, as Bogdanovich gives us some background about the origin of the script and production. Some of the information is repeated in the commentary track, but this is still well worth checking out.

Peter Bodganovich takes us through a very enjoyable and informative commentary track. He provides a wealth of information about the making of the film, even pointing out which locations were used without filming permits and even what time of day certain shots were done. The director even brings small story details to our attention (such as Bobby's history as a Vietnam veteran) that might slip by on a first viewing. Best of all, Bogdanovich shares some genuinely warm anecdotes about his experiences with Karloff, who seemed liked a very gentle soul indeed.
The Verdict
Though it's not strictly Karloff's final performance, Targets is a fitting summing up of the great actor's career. A precursor to such urban thrillers as Taxi Driver and Falling Down, this long-obscure film is given an excellent DVD presentation. Solid video and audio are on offer with modest but satisfying special features. Highly recommended.
Movie Score
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