The film stars Steve Railsback (notable for his roles in Lifeforce and The Stuntman) as Paul, a guy who’s been continually stepping on the government’s toes for most of his life and is subsequently placed in multiple prison camps because of his subordination. When Turkey Shoot picks up, he’s quickly thrown into a new camp along with Chris (Olivia Hussey) and Rita (Lynda Stoner), two women who have also been picked up for stepping out against the government’s overwhelming rules. Their prison camp is run by Thatcher (Michael Craig), a stand-in for the prime minister and a man who has never failed to break his prisoners into submission, helped along by the gigantic Ritter (Roger Ward).
The opening of Turkey Shoot happens quickly, partially due to the aforementioned budget restrictions since Trenchard-Smith was unable to include any scenes of futuristic society. So instead, the film spends a long period of time both getting to know our new prisoners – Paul being the obstinate one who refuses to conform – and showing how awful and exploitative the prison camp can be. In one scene, there’s a group shower with a loudspeaker proclaiming people can have sex, but if a woman gets pregnant, the baby will be swiftly aborted. In another, Hussey’s character Chris is nearly gang-raped by evil soldiers – and it includes notable nudity from a body double that clearly does not have the same “build” as Hussey.
Trenchard-Smith’s political maneuverings may not be subtle or groundbreaking, but it does help to foment unrest within the audience. This is Ozploitation at its finest, complete with various torture devices, an overbearing dictator, and a lot of unwarranted nudity. Even better, the screenplay employs a number of nefarious rich white people who set up the turkey shoot of the title because they like to play with their prisoners.
It’s all very seedy, and the second portion of the film finds Trenchard-Smith following a few prisoners – including Rita, Paul, and Chris along with a couple other escapees – as they are hunted by some memorably terrible people, like crossbow-wielding Jennifer (Carmen Duncan) or a wolfman-esque character named Alph (Steve Rackman). There’s a whole lot of violence and explosions, and Trenchard-Smith doesn’t skimp on delivering gore and uncomfortable situations.
The end of the film kind of devolves into a standard action setpiece, with the prisoners arming up and taking on the soldiers in a gunplay confrontation; Trenchard-Smith, unsure how to end Turkey Shoot, simply chooses not to, instead fading out in a surprisingly abrupt fashion. However, the ending doesn’t take away from the energy and fun exploitative black humor that abounds within Turkey Shoot.
Clearly, some will have a difficult time accepting certain qualities of the film. It’s not particularly well-made, and there are some suspect actors featured as secondary characters. The politics are heavy-handed, and the action sequences and violence are forced on the viewer because it was necessary since Turkey Shoot lacks a deep plot. But that’s pretty much what one should expect when enjoying an Ozploitation film, and it doesn’t get much better in the sub-genre than Turkey Shoot.
Severin Films’ Blu-Ray release of Turkey Shoot looks amazing, it really does. This is a high-quality transfer with very little damage, and I often couldn’t believe how crisp everything looked, from the color to the lack of noise in the background. The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono track, which sounds good – not spectacular, but good all the same. Unfortunately, this disc does not offer any subtitles.
There’s an audio commentary track Brian Trenchard-Smith, a great inclusion, but even better is the half-hour featurette with Trenchard-Smith, producer Antony I. Ginnane, and cinematographer Vincent Monton, a discussion not only of the production of Turkey Shoot but also the Ozploitation sub-genre in general. That is recommended viewing, and so as the other 23-minute featurette Turkey Shoot: Blood & Thunder Memories. That has interviews with cast mates like Lynda Stoner and Michael Craig, and it’s incredibly interesting to see how Craig and Stoner’s views on the quality of Turkey Shoot differ widely.
Additionally, there’s an hour-long set of extended interviews from Not Quite Hollywood, including Trenchard-Smith, Stoner, Railsback, Ginnane, and more. Another bang for your buck! Finally, a 10-minute interview with Trenchard-Smith, an alternate opening credits sequence, and a trailer round this engorged disc out. Bottom line: hunt down this Turkey Shoot.