Friday, 22 May 2009

Ozploitation Month: Turkey Shoot

Title: Turkey Shoot
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Released: 1982
Staring: Steve Railsback, Oliva Hussey, Michael Craig, Carmen Duncan, Noel Ferrier, Lynda Stoner, Roger Ward, Michael Petrovich
Rating: 4/ 5
Plot: In the near future (or shud that be an alternate past seeing how it’s supposed to be 1995), people deemed as being Deviants by the totalitarian government are held at a rehabilitation camp, till theycan be reprogrammed as useful members of society. Camp director Thatcher (Craig) however, has chosen five inmates to be take part in his latest hunt, with the chance of freedom if they survive. The only catch is that they are the prey!

Review: Ever since the release of “Battle Royale” (2000) which along with the like of “Ringu” (1998) and “Audition” (1999) helped push Asian cinema, into the mainstream conscious, exposing films that would have largely been ignored by most of the cinema going public, other than cinema snobs and the foreign film fans. However since the release of “Battle Royale” it seems that when ever you have a film, come out which involves any group of people being hunted for sport, be it by people, zombies or pretty much anything else, you will always find critics quick to attach the label of a film being a “Battle Royale Clone”, which is ironic when that film is basically the same idea as “Turkey Shoot” except on a larger scale, increasing this films group of five to a school class of 42 pupils, but it’s clearly “Turkey shoot” that provides the groundwork and even though both films share the same idea, they both have enough originality to stand on their own, but if anything is a clone of anything, then it has to be of “Turkey Shoot”, but then at the same time you could say that this film is also a homage to Richard Connel’s "The Most Dangerous Game" and George Orwell's "1984", proving once again that like everything else it is just really a homage of a homage.

Opening with a montage of stock footage of riots around the world, which provides all the backdrop you need, to were society has been heading to the point, that the faceless government has set up concentration style camps, to re-educate those who wish to stand up against their Orwellian vision of society. We are quickly introduced to our so called heroes a resistance member Paul Anders (Railsback), an accused sex worker Rita (Stoner) and Chris (Hussey) who is a shopworker, who after attempting to stop the beating of a man, by government police is accused of being part of the resistance and sentenced to re-education at the camp along with Paul and Jennifer, who will soon be taking part in the hunt planned by the well spoken, pipe smoking camp director Thatcher, who is played effortlessly laid back here by Micheal Craig, who uses the sadistic camp guards to enforce his wrath on the camp detainee’s, rather than dirty his hands with such things.
With Paul having been sent to his camp, he now see’s this as the perfect time to hold a Turkey Shoot, gathering together several like minded fellow hunters, who each choose themselves a target prisoner to hunt with each prisoner then given twenty four hours to escape, with the promise of freedom if they do.
This simple plot, helps keep the pace of the film moving quickly and despite the lack of prisoners being hunted, a modest five compared to the 42 of “battle royale”, it still manages to remain satisfying enough for those of us, who heard the comparisons to “battle royale” and picked this film up hoping for a similar style bloodbath, as all four of the hunters have their own unique style of hunting with the well spoken Tito (Petrovich) preferring to chase after his target in what can best be described as a mini bulldozer and unleashing his sideshow freak / werewolf pet “Alph” to remove parts of his targets anatomy, including one scene in which he invites Alph to eat the toes of prisoner Dodge, before letting him go, so that he might enjoy hunting him again. Meanwhile Jennifer (Duncan) prefers to dress like she is going on a foxhunt, taking time with her crossbow, as she plays with her target, like a cat with a mouse, aswell as any other of the prisoners, she gets in her sights regardless of whether they are her target or not, only truly revelling the extent of her dark side towards the end, in one of the more surprising and chilling scenes, which works all the more strongly when the film is hardly subtle and pure grind house fodder for the majority of it’s run time.

Gore wise there is plenty of interesting moments, to rival that of “Battle Royale” which I know I keep drawing comparisons to, but that will be the film which most viewers will compare this film to and “Turkey Shoot” does have more than enough of it’s original moments, as limbs are removed and a memorable exploding head being only a few of the delights on offer.
On the soundtrack, Brian May adds his usual orchestral styling to the film soundtrack, once again like he did finding the perfect score to soundtrack, the events unfolding on screen, heightening the experience in the same way that he did with the “Mad Max” movies and here also it works perfectly to complement the film.
“Turkey Shoot” is defiantly a lost classic, that will now hopefully find it’s audience once more, especially since being featured in the “Ozplotiation” documentary “Not Quite Hollywood” which will no doubt have the “Battle Royale” fans hunting it down already, something that I urge you to do, even if this film has so many random moments, such as the werewolf create and most of the bad guys, appear to have come from the Star Trek school of villainy, it still possesses that grubby charm that makes it still a highly watchable movie, I’m now after seeing both this film and the documentary “Not Quite Hollywood” torn between which has the better story, the film or the making of the film, which if I’m to believe the documentary, had half the budget being funded, through betting funds at the dog track and live ammunition being fired at the actors, let alone the story of Oliva Hussey almost cutting Roger Wards real hands off with a machete, which all in all only helps further this films reputation as a Ozploitation classic!


  1. I've been wanting to check this one out (along with a bunch of other Ozploitation flicks) ever since seeing the "Not Quite Hollywood" documentary. Do you know if there is any difference between "Turkey Shoot" and the US version "Escape 2000" (other than the name)?

  2. I've heard that only the version released as "Turkey Shoot" is the least cut with copies released as either "Blood Camp Thatcher" and "Escape 2000" have had various cuts made, usually removing around five mins of film.

    There is a version on Youtube which appears to be uncut, though if it has been cut I didn't notice it.


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