Turkey Shoot review
Turkey Shoot was also known as Escape 2000 in the United States, a title that really didn’t epitomize the ideas at play in the film. While Turkey Shoot (the title that Severin Films has decided to use for their Blu-Ray release) is supposedly set in a futuristic timeline, the film itself doesn’t have a chance to prove that – due to budget restrictions, the futuristic vision is limited to exposition delivered by the characters, with the audience given just enough to assume that the film’s events take place in a 1984-style era where government has become an aggressive part of human civilization. Though that sci-fi aspect of the setting has been left out, the overall exploitative nature of this Ozploitation film from director Brian Trenchard-Smith is still here in spades – Turkey Shoot is a film that knowingly copies a lot of other movies and ideas – most notable The Most Dangerous Game – and then trashes those ideas up with over-the-top violence, nudity, and dark humor.
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.
Click next for the Blu-Ray review.