Turkey Shoot (1982)

By crikey, this review is the first of a series of Australian movies I'd like to cover on this site. Expect to see titles such as Howling 3 : The Marsupials, Thirst, Lady Stay Dead and various other weirdies that offer a unique, Antipodian take on cult cinema. Inn of the Damned is one little obscure piece I'd like to get my hands on - if anyone out there has any ideas on how to obtain it, please drop me a line.

Enough ranting - this is a review of Turkey Shoot. What a film - this one is almost Peter Jacksoneque in its gore quotient. It's well worth catching because you'll probably never see an exploitation film of it's like ever again. Like to know some plot? Here we go.

We're in the future some years, and the Government has taken over completely. The society we see is not specifically Australia, so much as I'd love to call this film Ozploitation, it's not really about Australians, so that little term will have to wait for another milestone of cinema. Anyway, there is no freedom in this totalitarian state. Anyone who objects to absolute conformity is called a "deviant" and sent to a correctional camp. The only purpose of these camps seems to be to torture the inmates and turn out conformists. One of these is run by Thatcher (a benign-looking Michael Craig) who rules with a sadistic iron fist. The token American actors, rebel Steve Railsback and sympathetic shopkeeper Olivia Hussey, are caught by the authorities, and thrown into the camp. Tortured by the camp commandants, they and a small group of others, including a buxom Linda Stoner, a minor Aussie actress of the seventies, are then forced to go on a "Turkey Shoot" - basically a hunting of humans - for the amusement of some visiting, decadent government officials. So the chase begins - various weapons such as crossbows with exploding arrows, blade-studded cars and even a hair-covered, murderous circus freak are used. This film has something for everyone.

As the hunted and hunters dwindle in numbers, we get to see much gore. Toes are ripped off and eaten, people are cut in half, hands are lopped off, people are practically shot to pieces, sharpened logs pierce villian's bellies. What sort of culture makes films such as these? ... mine, baby. Finally, as the tables are turned - did you think anything else would happen? - an all-out gun-battle between deviants and the government takes place. So we get to see much gunfire, explosions and, joy of joys, exploding heads. I won't tell you whose head explodes, but it's a great scene. Who survives and who becomes a splatter effect? I ain't telling.

Turkey Shoot is a pure pot-boiler, with almost no socially redeeming qualities. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. All the performances are delivered with villainous, silent movie gusto, so it's hard to be offended by any of the sadistic shenanigans. It doesn't have a particularly Australian stamp on it, visually, but any follower of Australian soap-opera of the seventies will recognise half of the cast. Even gravel-voiced boxing identity Gus Mercurio (Paul's dad) has a part as a sadistic, limping guard, who has a fun old time hassling Olivia Hussey. As a reasonably unique film, I'd call this one a must-see for any of you followers of "extreme" cinema.

Fire up the barbie, throw on a deviant shrimp or two, and then retire to some alcohol and Turkey Shoot. There, a perfect Aussie night's entertainment for you.


© Boris Lugosi 2003.


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Review written: 05/14/2003 11:00:53