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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 <email@example.com>
Roger Corman explains in his autobiography that he handed this "spec" project to the up-and-coming Bogdanovich primarily because he could basically pay the kid peanuts. Bogdanovich understood Corman's economic sensibilities well, and cut as many corners as he could. He uses Cormans regular bit-players as well as plenty of Jack Nicholson footage from 1963's "The Terror" - another Corman B-movie. Corman's specifications for the film were simple: make a cheap film referring to the recent Charles Whitman shootings at the University of Texas, and make it fast. The script draws heavily from the real-life Whitman story; the all-American boy gone bad kills his wife and mother, and then proceeds on a killing spree, shooting anyone in his sights from a snipers nest. This story is intertwined with that of Byron Orlocks ageing horror legend nearing retirement; here Boris Karloff plays himself, for all intents and purposes. Bogdanovich plays a major role in the film himself, and there is obvious affection between the young director and Karloff in the scenes they share. Although Bogdanovich's wife Polly Platt takes a screenwriting credit, it is often said that her role was actually more of a partner in all Bogdanovich's early work, collaborating and counter-balancing his excesses. There is probably a lot of truth to this theory, as after the couple separated Bogdanovich's suffered a deep decline. I had read much of the history of `Targets' in Peter Biskind's `Easy Riders - Raging Bulls' and Corman's own `How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime', and have been lucky enough to catch it twice on cable in the last week. It really is a very competent debut, and Bogdanovich truly makes the most of what humble resources he had at his disposal. See it.
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