Targets(1968) - Peter Bogdanovich

Real world horror and classic Hollywood horror collide in this sensational early thriller from Peter Bogdanovich. Boris Karloff is basically playing himself as the actor “Byron Orlok”, a nearly washed-up actor who’s ready to retire. He takes one last job promoting his new film at a local drive-in theater where a sniper is waiting to take aim at the movie patrons. Karloff is electric, watching him toggle back and forward between broken old man and silver screen legend is really interesting. As good as Karloff is, the scenes focusing on the shooter are truly chilling. Targets paints a strangely accurate portrait of the type of entitled loser you’d have to be to start shooting people. In many ways, this film can be seen as a movie about generations, with Karloff playing the greatest generation and casting the shooter as the entitled baby boomer. Targets is also a really interesting cultural artifact from a time when mass shootings weren’t commonplace, and while it is certainly exploitative, it’s also prescient. Targets is the inaugural writing/directing effort from Bogdanovich, and it’s clear that he really pushed this film to be more than the exportation cinema that it was intended to be; a truly thrilling and fascinating film.

Bryan E. West
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