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                                video coverVery Scary; There's a New Kind of
Monster in Town

[This page combines my reviews of this film done for Amazon and also for the Internet Movie Database]
[IMDB Review, posted 13 July 2000]
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This is a film that clearly illustrates what can be done with very little money, if the director and writers are creative enough and also lucky enough to get a star of Boris Karloff's charisma and presence.

Karloff only appears here because he owed Roger Corman* about three days shooting time on his latest contract; using him in a secondary but crucial role, Bogdanovich gives a true resonance and frisson to the film that might not have been there with a lesser light in the role of the old-time bogeyman who knows that he's not nearly as frightening as the Real World. Casting Karloff also solved the problem of the movie-within-the movie -- outtakes from "The Terror" (watch for Jack Nicholson).

This is not a film about gun control (though some prints have a prolog that makes it sound that way), nor is it really a film about a killer (except as he represents the frightening world around us that we cannot control but must deal with) -- this is a film about destinies and inevitability. We are fated, it seems to say -- we all die, but some deaths are more random than others and some confrontations are inevitable before the end.

Bogdanovich plays cleverly with this idea of fate and inevitability, as the killer and Byron Orlok (Karloff) cross paths once or twice without really knowing it before the final conflict is forced upon them. One of the cleverer ways he uses to make this point is Orlok's recounting, in that beautiful, deep, velvety, slightly-lisping voice that is so archetypal, of "The Appointment in Samarra", a fable that stresses that however much we attempt to escape our fate, often that much more we bring it to its climax.

An important point that Bogdanovich understood, which the makers of "Two Minute Warning", another sniper film, apparently did not, is that the best way to portray the true terror of this story is to focus tightly on the killer, leaving his victims (for the most part -- one particularly scarifying sequence in the drive-in at the end that shows us in tight sharp focus the results of his marksmanship serves to emphasise the point) nothing but distant, anonymous ... Targets.
For other books about Roger Corman, click [here] and [here].
{Amazon Review, posted 19 January 2001; five stars}
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An Underestimated National Resource

This film is one of i-don't-know-how-many in all that clearly reveals the existence of a great national resource that most people aren't even aware exists -- Producer/Director Roger Corman!

How many illustrious careers began making cheapie films for Corman?

Well, Bogdanovich here, Coppola on "Dementia 13"...

More recently, Joe Dante ("Gremlins") and Allan Arkush ("Rock 'n' Roll High School"), the late Paul Bartel ("Eating Raoul") and James Cameron ("Aliens", "Terminator", "True Lies") have started out working for Corman.

The earliest legitimate film appearances by Sylvester Stallone that i know of are in Corman films...

Bogdanovich had an idea for a new kind of horror film. Corman had three days of shooting time that Boris Karloff owed him.

The result is a quiet but disturbing film that circles inevitably around and around to a final confrontation.

Karloff's portrayal of, essentially, himself, is wonderful; you can see the big, gentle and genuinely funny man who was behind so many of the great scary movies.

((Incidentally, while it would be nice to think of this as Karloff's "Shootist" -- a last, a final, valedictory film to perfectly end his career, as that film ended and summed up John Wayne's -- it is, unfortunately not true; he made three awful US/Mexican films after "Targets" [One of them is "The Crimson Cult", i don't remember the others]. Most Karloff fans sort of overlook those and credit this as his final "real" film...))
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