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Targets (1968)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,416 users  
Reviews: 95 user | 86 critic

Elderly horror-film star who, while making a personal appearance at a drive-in theater, confronts a psychotic Vietnam veteran who's turned into a mass-murdering sniper.

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(screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Targets (1968)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim O'Kelly ...
Bobby Thompson
...
Byron Orlok
...
Ed Loughlin
Monte Landis ...
Marshall Smith (as Monty Landis)
Nancy Hsueh ...
Jenny
...
Sammy Michaels
Daniel Ades ...
Chauffeur
Stafford Morgan ...
Salesman - 1st Gunshop
...
Robert Thompson Sr.
Mary Jackson ...
Charlotte Thompson
Tanya Morgan ...
Ilene Thompson
Timothy Burns ...
Waiter (as Tim Burns)
Warren White ...
Grocery Boy
Mark Dennis ...
Salesman - 2nd Gunshop
Sandy Baron ...
Kip Larkin
Edit

Storyline

Byron Orlok is an old horror-movie star who feels that he is an anachronism. Compared to real-life violence, his films are tame. Meanwhile, Bobby Thompson goes on a killing spree... Written by Gary Couzens <gjcouzens@btinternet.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

TARGETS are people...and you could be one of them! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 August 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Before I Die  »

Box Office

Budget:

$130,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Aside from background music played on a car radio, there is no musical soundtrack for the movie. See more »

Goofs

(at around 11 mins) Exterior of Thompson home does not match layout of interior sets. When Bobby pulls up in front of house, front door is set flush in a wall that runs entire length of building; yet when he enters, there is windowed wall that runs along right side of entry hall that could not possibly coexist with exterior. See more »

Quotes

Byron Orlok: [watching the audience seeing his movie] Strange not getting any reaction, isn't it?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Peter Bogdanovich's debut is his greatest film!
27 November 2009 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This small in budget, huge in talent picture had the terrible timing of being completed before, but released after Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy Sr. were assassinated. The toll those two events had in 1968 almost guaranteed "Targets" would never be seen by audiences that could watch Tim O'Kelly and keep his character in mind as a Charles Whitman figure rather than a politically motivated gunman. Bogdanovich's first directing turn also marked the swan song of Boris Karloff. The two of them together were a dynamite pairing and it's a shame we didn't get more from this movie loving duo.

Clips from Roger Corman's "The Terror" (with Karloff and a really young Jack Nicholson) are strategically inserted, as Boris plays an actor who's synonymous with big screen terror. And as his career is winding down, the changes frightening him in society are not costumes, on the lot sets and ghoulish cosmetics, but real human monsters who destroy any remaining sense of safety in the world with high powered rifles and other firearms. His Byron Orlok is an old man who knows his time is short and makes the most of each day he continues to live. Bogdanovich's Sammy is in awe of the legend, while most of the industry hustlers Byron has to deal with are only interested in the hype and money.

Enter Tim O'Kelly and his family. The parents are salt of the earth types and Tim's wife is his rock. Then why does this clean cut young man in his twenties during the era of the love generation look and feel so out of step with modern life? We'll never really know. Those mass murderers in the making only reveal certain key clues when it's too late to stop their plans.

Sam Fuller provided help, whipping the script into shape, as the director acknowledges in his commentary. It's better that those wanting to see this smaller, quiet film not know all of it's plot. Calling a story with much gunfire "quiet" is peculiar, but the sound editing of Verna Fields is the unsung hero of "Targets", where the bursts of lethal noise alternate with a serene soundtrack stripped down to not too much era music (Bogdanovich had a handful of obscure 60's tunes to sparingly use) and, thankfully, none of the din cluttering most 21st century movies, letting us hear the full tones of each person's voice sans cranked up score and effects.

"Targets" is a terrific and overlooked time capsule from an era before school shootings were an almost weekly event in the news and when there seemed to be a solution for ending violence in our future. It's an almost quaint trip back inside a cautious sense of optimism we'll not share again.


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