Eye For Film >> Movies >> Turkey Shoot (1982) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
One of the most famous and enduringly popular products of the Eighties Ozploitation craze, Turkey Shoot is the story of three young 'deviants' rounded up after a riot and taken to remote prison camp. There they are forced to participate in a deadly game as the camp commander's upper-class friends gather to hunt human prey.
Writing about this in the recent aftermath of the London riots, it's hard not to think of it first and foremost as a political film, and it's worth remembering that it wasn't made with the intention that it serve any noble cause. There has always been a pornographic aspect to fascism in the movies and the creators of Turkey Shoot were well aware of that, indulging in every convenient cliché to show humanity at its worst and reap a tidy profit.
The film was not a success on home turf (a curious thing, as it employs some of the same themes as the recent , the country's biggest ever hit), but it went on to do well in the UK and to enjoy cult success on video and DVD. Rarely seen today, it's worth seeking out if you're a fan of the genre or, indeed, if you're just looking for thrills.
Steve Railsback, a man now better known for his charismatic second-string villains, plays Paul, a young man who has escaped from two prison camps before and is determined this one will not hold him. Swooning alongside him is Chris (Olivia Hussey), a giallo-style sheltered good girl who provides the emotional core of the film as she is forced to face up first to the brutality of others and then to what she too is capable of.
Alongside them are the cunning but foolhardy Griff (Bill Young), comedy ginger scumbag Dodge (John Ley), and vaguely pointless busty blonde Rita (Lynda Stoner, who went on to become a fan favourite in Prisoner Cell Block H). Up against them is evil toff Charles Thatcher (Michael Craig), a man whose Anglicised accent and chess-loving antics make it clear from the start that he is not to be trusted. In his team are vicious crossbow-wielding glamour queen Jennifer (Carmen Duncan), sneering digger-driver Tito (Michael Petrovitch) and pompous Secretary of State Mallory (Noel Ferrier). Lurid but well substantiated characters along with a well- paced script help turn what could have been just a lot of running about into a film that does a good job of holding audience attention throughout.
It has its problems, of course. In order for the plot to work everybody on the side of evil has to be a terrible shot and the good guys must, for the most part, entirely fail to make use of the wide variety of natural weapons around them. Much of the dialogue is awful, though genre connoisseurs will consider this part of the pleasure. Effective use is made of a varied natural environment and the effects work pretty well considering the limited budget. Where the more dramatic death scenes fail in realism they succeed in entertaining OTT gore. Oh, and it's worth bearing in mind that due to the budget and effects limitations, some of the shooting scenes were filmed using live ammunition.
For all its cheesiness, Turkey Shoot stands up well as entertainment for a modern audience used to more sophisticated fare, and it's clear now that this among the greatest successes of a frenetic movie-making period. Its roughness is well compensated for by its energy and it is surprisingly satisfying to watch. If this is your kind of thing, it's well worth tracking down.Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2011