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Targets (1968)

An elderly horror film star, while making a personal appearance at a drive-in theatre, confronts a psychotic Vietnam War veteran who has turned into a mass-murdering sniper.



(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bobby Thompson
Byron Orlok
Ed Loughlin
Monte Landis ...
Marshall Smith (as Monty Landis)
Sammy Michaels
Daniel Ades ...
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
Kip Larkin

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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


Why Gun Control? See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 August 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Before I Die  »

Box Office


$130,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peter Bogdanovich named his own character "Sammy Michaels" after Samuel Fuller (whose middle name is "Michael") in gratitude for the work Fuller did on the script. See more »


(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 »


Byron Orlok: Order some breakfast, would you Jenny?
Sammy Michaels: [Hungover after a night of drinking with Orlok] Oh, I couldn't eat on an empty stomach.
See more »


Referenced in Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

One last major Bullseye for the great Boris Karloff…
21 July 2010 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Pretty much like his semi-autobiographical character Byron Orlok, Boris Karloff should have retired in beauty and style. "Targets" would have been the ideal swan song to Karloff's long and masterful career, but unfortunately there were still a handful of other and extremely inferior horror movies added to his resume, like the abysmal "Isle of the Snake People" and "Cauldron of Blood". "Targets" is his last great film and also the final film in which he noticeably feels comfortable and motivated to act. In practically all of this other post-1965 appearances, Boris Karloff already looked more dead than alive, but here you can tell he clearly wanted to play this role. Many, many thanks to writer/director Peter Bogdanovich who – under the protective supervision of Roger Corman – cast Boris Karloff in a role that couldn't have been played by anyone else, except maybe Vincent Price (like Bogdanovich own supportive character even funnily mentions at one point during the film).

Byron Orlock is an aging and stubborn who's convinced there isn't any interest anymore in the grotesque Gothic villain monsters he portrays. After the test screening of his latest film, Byron suddenly announces his retirement much against the will of his producers, personal assistant and a young aspiring director who just finished writing a screenplay especially for Byron. They all urge him to reconsider his decision, and at least make it to his planned public appearance at a drive-in theater. Meanwhile, in the same city, young and confused weapon-freak Bobby Thomson is about to snap mentally. He bought a trunk full of artillery and wrote a letter warning people that many will die before they catch him. After randomly having shot people in cars from the top of an oil reservoir, Bobby flees from the police and hides out in the drive-in theater.

"Targets" is loosely based on the tragedy caused by Charles Whitman, who killed and wounded over forty people in Texas on August 1st, 1966. Perhaps the US was still too much in a state of shock to realize, so shortly after these ream events, but "Targets" makes a powerful statement regarding the alienation of youth and the largely uncontrolled weapon legislation. I encountered some criticism stating that the two stories are largely unconnected and that particularly Karloff's story is random and irrelevant. I heavily object, since Byron Orlock physically represents the old-fashioned definition of horror, creepy old madmen safely entrenched in their Gothic castles, whereas Bobby Thomson embodies the new and grueling type of horror which we sadly are confronted with on a near daily basis. "Targets" basically builds a symbolic bridge between vintage horror and modern terror, and it's truly fantastic that Boris Karloff helped building it. The sniper sequences are immensely disturbing, especially opposed to the cheesy borrowed footage of Corman's "The Terror" playing at the drive-in, and the film bathes in a genuine ominous atmosphere whenever the character of Bobby Thomson walks into the screen. The interactions between him and his wife are saddening, uncomfortable and unsettling all at the same time. Personally, I always thought "The Last Picture Show" was Bogdanovich's only true masterpiece, but that was before I laid my hands on "Targets". This film is even better.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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