“Targets” (1968) - Sam Gall's Movie Review Issue #26 Gem Mint 10.0

Updated: Sep 17, 2020


"Targets" (1968) directed by Peter Bogdanovich


"Two parallel stories; an elderly horror film star prepares for a personal appearance at a drive-in theater before retiring, a psychotic Vietnam War veteran turns into a mass-murdering sniper."


You might like this if you like: serial killer movies, thrillers, crime, sniper movies, Universal Monsters (ie; "Frankenstein" 1931, "The Invisible Man" 1933, "The Mummy" 1932), Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, psychopath movies, movies about movies, Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show", "Paper Moon", "Saint Jack"),


Look, I can’t tell you what to do, but please don’t watch the trailer for this film. I couldn’t find a trailer online for this that DIDN’T SPOIL the movie. The main two on YouTube are re-release trailers that shows most of the story. Very disappointed in the trailer. It literally disregards the entire parallel plot from the movie. If you can, take a chance with me and check out this film for yourself.

Peter Bogdanovich delivers a fascinating masterpiece of cinema. It’s disturbing, informative and I think strangely important for our time and future generations. It’s not for everyone, I can understand and respect some images viewers may find triggering. It deals with gun control and mass murders/shootings in graphic detail (mind you, 1968 special effects I find to be a bit more tolerable violence than today’s SFX, sometimes the blood & gore look too real these days!).


Peter Bogdanovich (left) & Boris Karloff (right) in "Targets" (1968)

What I wasn’t expecting this film to explore was the side of Boris Karloff’s character of an aging horror actor. Sound familiar? Boris Karloff, whose career was in a similar place as his fictional character’s, was filming a picture with Roger Corman when production halted until up and coming director Peter Bogdanovich was hired, due to owing Corman two days of work, under the strict rules to use the Karloff footage that was already shot and finish the movie. On a technicality, Bogdanovich uses the footage throughout the film in a creative and almost 4th wall commentary-like way. You’ll have to see for yourself!


It’s a beautiful parallel journey of two characters; one man who unravels and goes on a killing spree, another whose career is deteriorating and work in the horror movie industry is changing. I love movies about movies and I love movies about psychopaths. The wonderment of how these two stories will intertwine or connect kept me on the edge of my seat. I hadn’t seen a trailer or any footage prior to watching and was hooked on what was going to happen next. Tim O’Kelly was a new face for me but played the role more terrifyingly than anyone else I could imagine. Boris Karloff plays the greatest sendoff roll to his past monster flicks in this film as Byron Orlok, an aging and retiring monster movie actor who is convinced by a young director, ironically played by Peter Bogdanovich, to make an appearance at an old re-release film premiere of Orlok’s before leaving Hollywood.

Boris Karloff in "Targets" (1968)


The film is a powerful study on gun control and the mind of a mass murderer. As disturbing as it may be for some to watch at times I think it helps give some insight into maybe where the problem can begin.


Tim O'Kelly in "Targets" (1968)

I won’t say anymore about this film as I think, as for myself, it’s better watched without a trailer. I hope you enjoy. I’ll leave you with this quote because I couldn’t have said it better:


…the most political movie Corman ever made since “The Intruder”. And forty years later it's still one of the strongest cries for gun control in American cinema. The film isn't a thriller with a social commentary buried inside of it (the normal Corman model), it's a social commentary with a thriller buried inside of it... It was one of the most powerful films of 1968 and one of the greatest directorial debuts of all time. And I believe the best film ever produced by Roger Corman.” - Quentin Tarantino, 2020


(Tarantino pays homage to this film in "Inglourious Basterds" 2009)


Written by Sam Gall on 07/23/20


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


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