Targets (1968)
September 19, 2022 12:35 PM - Subscribe

After unhinged Vietnam vet Bobby Thompson (Tim O'Kelly) kills his wife and mother, he goes on a brutal shooting spree. Starting at an oil refinery, he evades the police and continues his murderous outing at a drive-in movie theater, where Byron Orlok (Boris Karloff), a retiring horror film icon, is making a promotional appearance. Before long, Orlock, a symbol of fantastical old-fashioned scares, faces off against Thompson, a remorseless psychopath rooted in a harsh modern reality.

The debut feature by Peter Bogdanovich, who also co-wrote the film with Polly Platt. Bogdanovich has said that Samuel Fuller provided generous help on the screenplay and refused to accept either a fee or a screen credit, so Bogdanovich named his own character Sammy Michaels (Fuller's middle name was Michael) in tribute.

The character and actions of Bobby Thompson are patterned after Charles Whitman, who perpetrated the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966. The character of Byron Orlok, named after Max Schreck's vampire Count Orlok in 1922's Nosferatu, was based on Karloff himself, with a fictional component of being embittered with the movie business and wanting to retire. The role was Karloff's last appearance in a major American film.

Bogdanovich got the chance to make Targets because Boris Karloff owed studio head Roger Corman two days' work. Corman told Bogdanovich he could make any film he liked provided he used Karloff and stayed under budget.

90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by DirtyOldTown (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Whoops, forgot to include the JustWatch listing. You can see this free on Paramount+ or Hoopla or rent it from the usual places.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:37 PM on September 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

I keep expecting this film to claim a larger place in film canon. I'm a big fan of it and Karloff gets to do some really terrific work.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:37 PM on September 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

An amazing, utterly prescient and gripping film, with a casually brilliant performance by Boris Karloff. A total gem that, yep, should be much more widely recognized as one of the Great American films of the 60s - or any decade. I need to rewatch it soon.
posted by mediareport at 4:05 AM on September 20, 2022

I love the Appointment in Samarra monologue.
posted by holborne at 8:06 PM on September 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Critical Role: What Dreams May...   |  House of the Dragon: We Light ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments