Boris Karloff plays aging horror film star Byron Orlok — in other words, himself. He feelsthat he has become a joke, that the type of horror movies he stars in can no longer stand up to thereal horrors in the world. He is about to find out just how right he is, as he is on a collisioncourse with an all-American boy (Tim O’Kelly), who is about to embark on a motiveless killingspree as a sniper. Chilling and relevant to this day, Targets is also a dazzlingly cleverexe…cise in self-reflexivity, with Bogdanovich playing a young director who wants to cast Karloffin a film whose plot outline is very much the one we are watching. A remarkable debut fromBogdanovich (and arguably still the best thing he has ever done), Targets is also a fittingtribute to Karloff’s career, and, coming as it does in 1968, a remarkable bridge between two verydifferent kinds of cinematic horror.
The mono soundtrack is very solid, with no background noise and very clear dialogue. Muchof the film was shot silent with sound effects added in later (virtually seamless work too), andthere is no music score, so stereo remixes would have been largely redundant and most likely ill-advised.
The format is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and this is a bit of a dirty trick, since thefeaturette clearly reveals that the original ratio was 1.85:1. Still, even partial widescreen is betterthan none at all. The blacks and contrasts are good, as are the colours (the gruesome pastels ofO’Kelly’s home scenes are particularly well captured). The film’s tiny budget should be factoredin to all this as well. The print is in nice shape, with only minor speckling and grain.
A ten-minute interview with Bogdanovich is a fascinating introduction to the film. Hiscommentary is just as good, fleshing out many of the points he brings up in the introduction,going into great detail on the seat-of-the-pants making of the film, and pointing out SamuelFuller’s hitherto uncredited contributions. Great stuff. The menu is basic.
Smart, moving, intelligent, terrifying. What more do you want in a film? Why are you stillreading this? Why aren’t you watching it?
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Introduction by Peter Bogdanovich