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Monday, February 18, 2013

Targets (1968)

Boris Karloff is a horror movie legend.  Targets was one of the last films he made and is a testimony to an actor who never lost his spark.  Director Peter Bogdanovich, who also wrote the screenplay, said that Karloff did this film with a brace on each leg and had difficulty walking.  Karloff also had emphysema and had trouble breathing.  Yet, in spite of this, he was a total pro on set and was a joy to work with.

Targets is one smart screenplay that asks the question of how an aging gothic horror star is still relevant in our modern world.  Karloff is in on the joke and at one point in the film exclaims "I'm an antique, out of date...an anachronism...look around you: the world belongs to the young.  Make way for them.  Let them have it."

Karloff's struggle is wrapped around another story of a man who goes on a shooting rampage in the same town.  This story was inspired by Charles Whitman who was an engineering student who killed 14 people and wounded 32 others in a shooting spree located in and around the tower of the University of Texas in 1966.  This narrative could have been written today and is as fresh as the evening news.

Bogdanavich seamlessly weds these two stories into a smart thriller that also includes footage from the Karloff classic The Terror (1963).  It works brilliantly and proves, once again, that if a film has a great script, it doesn't need a big budget to make it work.

Roger Corman produced Targets, along with Bogdanavich.  The whole project began because Karloff owed Corman two days of contract work.  Corman told Bogdanovich he could make any film he wanted two, with two conditions: he had to use 20 minutes of stock footage from The Terror, and he had to hire Karloff for another 20 minutes of screen time which could be shot in two days.  Karloff liked the script so much that he worked a total of five days on the movie, foregoing any pay for the extra work.

The rest, they say, is history.  Targets is a delightful film that is as relevant today as when it was filmed back in 1968.  That's quite an accomplishment for a horror film, or any film for that matter.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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