Peter Bogdanovich's isn't the last movie Boris Karloff made, though it should have been. We should consider it so, and let's forget those abominations he made in Mexico. Targets is a fitting capstone to one of the greatest movie careers in horror.

Surely most of you have seen Targets, right? If you haven't, I urge, implore, beg, ORDER, you to do so as soon as humanly possible. It used to be dirt cheap, but I just checked and a new DVD at Amazon is $30.00. You can get used ones for a reasonable price still. And you don't wanna rent it. Targets is a keeper that you'll want to watch over and again.

Targets also serves as a dividing point for the old style of atmospheric horror and the newer, more lurid movies that reveled in graphic violence. I know, I know, the Hammer films were a big step in the same direction, and Herschel Gordon Lewis made jaw-dropping gore movies. And Targets was made in the same year that George Romero released Night of the Living Dead. But still...*

Targets very effectively juxtaposed elements of the old and the new forms of horror in its story, and it featured a man who was arguably the greatest star of the genre.

Boris Karloff plays Byron Orlok, an aging horror star very much like himself. Peter Bogdanovich plays a hot young Hollywood director. Much like himself. Bogdanovich just completed a typical film that stared the old actor, but he has a script that will showcase him in a new, better type of film. By this point the attempts at traditional horror were growing stale.

But Orlok wants to quit the game. Real-life violence has rendered make-believe horror obsolete.

Meanwhile, in a parallel plot, a young man is coming unstrung. He comes from a good family, has a nice girlfriend. Yet he is troubled. For no apparent reason, he arms himself with an arsenal of ammunition and weapons and begins shooting motorists from a tower.

These two storylines meet in a drive-in theater, where the final film of Byron Orlok is being premiered.

Targets is a masterpiece that demands to be seen and to be seen again. Karloff and Bogdanovich are both great, and they play against one another beautifully. Especially in a scene where they hash their differences out and get drunk.

*Yes, I also know about Peeping Tom, The Witchfinder General, Coffin Joe, and most of the other early forms of modern horror.

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry