It’s been a little while since I covered anything from the Ozploitation era of Australian filmmaking. I think it’s the perfect time to check back in with our friends Down Under! This is one that I questioned whether or not it fits properly on B-Movie Enema. It’s not so much because it seemed like a crazy dystopian “Most Dangerous Game” sort of scenario. Mostly it’s because of this movie featuring Olivia Hussey, an actress that I’d say has a considerable amount of standing in the world of acting in the 70s and 80s.
When I do my research for these movies to see what I can do to punch up the start of one of these articles, I’m usually curious what the reviews were. That’s when I realized Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Turkey Shoot would not disappoint. I think it might be best to talk about Trenchard-Smith first.
He is an English-Australian director, producer, writer, etc. that has a filmography that could cover a buttload of B-Movie Enema articles for months. He was a producer on a past movie featured here that came out the same year as Turkey Shoot – Blood Tide. He did Dead End Drive-In, BMX Bandits (with a very young Nicole Kidman), Night of the Demons 2 (a sequel to a favorite Halloween movie of mine), and even two Leprechaun movies – Leprechaun 3 and Leprechaun 4: In Space. These are all things I know a thing or two about. In fact, I have BMX Bandits on my shelf. I may have to look into scheduling that for an article.
I could go on and on about Trenchard-Smith, but allow me to rattle off these stats about his personal life. This will be all you need to understand to know he’s an interesting guy. He lives in Oregon with his American wife who is a professor of Byzantine history. They have a couple kids… and a pet deer. Naturally, he likes history. What’s more, he likes epee fencing. What’s that? It’s fencing with the heaviest of weapons in the sport.
What do you think his pet deer thinks when he’s running around in a fencing outfit? Is it totally scared shitless? Does it think that it is some sort of alien? Is the deer itself the fencing partner he spars with? The questions are endless here.
Annnyway, next up to talk about are the two primary stars. First up, Steve Railsback is probably most recognizable for either playing Charles Manson in Helter Skelter in the mid-70s or for being the primary hero in Lifeforce. However, he was also in Nukie. He was in the action comedy Armed and Dangerous with John Candy (and directed by Mark L. Lester who made Truck Stop Women and Commando), and a movie called Cockfighter that is probably not at all what I was thinking it might be.
Opposite Railsback is the lovely Olivia Hussey. Now, we kind know what she’s been a part of. She was in the original Black Christmas. She first gained her fame playing Juliet in the most famous movie version of Shakespeare’s love story Romeo and Juliet until the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes one. She was also in Ice Cream Man.
That was a scene that made me realize that I had some very, very strange fetishes.
However, it’s the reviews for Turkey Shoot that leapt out for me and told me that, yes, this was going to be right at home here on B-Movie Enema. All of these come directly from the Wikipedia page for the movie. Let’s start with Joe Baltake from the Philadelphia Daily News who described it as a “vomitous offering” and “unfit for human consumption”. Next is Bill O’Connor from the much circulated Arkon Beacon Journal who simply said the movie was “garbage” and had too much gore and shitty “wooden” acting.
But then, there’s David Stratton, an Australian critic and aspiring Gene Siskel and/or Roger Ebert, who didn’t just say the movie was full of “a catalogue of sickening horrors” but that “the actors who were involved should be ashamed of themselves for appearing in such trash”. Ooh, what a spicy take, Mr. Stratton. I don’t know if he ever wrote any books, but I can say I own Turkey Shoot, but nothing he ever did. So… How’s that for a critique?
The movie opens with scenes from January 6, 2021 in what appears to be a riot… Wait. One moment. I’m being told that this is not Washington, D.C. It is just the background and lead up to this movie’s story of how things got to where we’ll see them. This is basically a montage of lots of insurrections, riots, and the like that lead to a totalitarian state being set up. From there, we we see people who have basically been charged with being social misfits being taken to a government re-education center that will turn them into more productive citizens.
One of these people is Chris Walters (Hussey). She worked at a shop that sold nice little crystal and glass things that witnessed the police chasing a misfit down and beating the shit out of him on the floor of her store. When she stepped in and asked them to stop, one of the law enforcement dudes turns his ire to her. He suspects that she is a sympathizer because why else would he come to this store. She’s obviously wanting him to stop being beaten by authoritarian cops, so let’s do the dumb totalitarian authoritarian math here… Yup, she must be a sympathizer.
Another captive is Paul Anders (Railsback). He’s a pirate radio guy and political dissident. You better believe he’s going to the camps. I guess he didn’t do a very good job of hiding where he broadcasts from because he was found and knocked out.
Inside the van with Anders and Walters is Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner). She was sent to the re-ed camp because someone turned her in as a whore. I’m assuming she is not a prostitute. She and Paul explain to Chris what’s going on. You see, Chris is a little naive because she doesn’t understand why they’ve been arrested or why they will be taken to a place to adjust the way they think to make them good little members of society.
Basically, the country can imprison anyone they deem to be unfit for their society. All it takes is suspicion. Disagree with the government? To the camps with you! Get in the way of the police doing their thing? To the camps! Do anything that anyone can accuse you of being undesirable? Yup… Camps.
They arrive at the camps and we hear the guard tell them that they better behave and shut the fuck up. The sooner they do what their told, the faster they can get out of the camp. In the office, we see the warden, Charles Thatcher (Michael Craig), and the head of the government’s re-education program, Secretary Mallory (Noel Ferrier), discuss problems across the country. There are lots of dissidents, and camps are getting pretty dang full.
Mallory states that it seems Thatcher doesn’t seem to have as many problems with overcrowding. Thatcher says it is due to how many uses he finds for some of the camp inhabitants. He even says that if Mallory would like to make use of any of the ladies there, he’s sure he could oblige him. Mallory takes an interest in Chris.
Thatcher gets the prisoners together and introduces himself to the three new prisoners. We learn that Paul has been to many re-education and behavioral modification camps, but has escaped them all. They take him away. This leaves Rita and Chris to learn what’s going to happen here in their time at the camp. Thatcher has his main goon, Ritter, make an example out of a terrified young woman at the camp by forcing her to recite an oath about being a misfit and scum and how she’ll learn to be better and obey the state, her parents, etc. while Ritter fakes punching her. When she stumbles and falters, he starts slapping her repeatedly.
Thatcher makes it known that freedom is obedience. Obedience is work. Work is life. The poor girl that Ritter was working over is tossed to the ground and kicked. She begins bleeding all over the place. It appears that she ends up dying.
Elsewhere, because of Paul’s reputation and that he stood up to one of the guards that made it seem as though he was going to rape Chris, he’s placed in a cage where he’s forced to hold up a bunch of heavy bricks or this thing inside the cage will crush him. Thatcher explains to Paul that he could very easily let him go if he just works with him and be good. Paul explains that he’s Thatcher’s worst fear – the man who cannot be broken.
Chris learns from an orange haired deviant, Dodge, that, even when you do what you’re told perfectly, there’s no guarantee that you will be allowed to leave. Most people are carried out the back and dumped into a mass grave. Dodge, who has been there a very long time, has worked for his release but realizes he probably will have to escape – something he’s worked out a plan to do. We also know he’s not exactly in the best mental shape after his years in the camp.
Some other things we learn about the camp are that men and women prisoners shower together. Sex, while not explicitly encouraged, between the prisoners is fine, but pregnancy is NOT. Pregnant women will have a forced abortion, and the man will be castrated. Oh, and homosexuality, that’s right out because that’s a capital crime. So I guess you can get laid if you want. You don’t have to worry too much about the guards because, in order to be a guard, you have to be castrated to work the camps.
How does Thatcher keep the population at his camp under control? Every year, he invites some VIPs for a little game. These VIPs include Secretary Mallory, aristocrats Jennifer and Tito, and Tito’s traveling companion, the beastly Alph – who has cannibalistic tendencies. This is what’s called the “turkey shoot” in which five inmates are chosen to be hunted by the VIPs. With this turkey shoot in particular, Thatcher is up for possible promotion in the ranks of the government. Mallory thinks that the government will appreciate this most dangerous game of his.
Later, before the selections are made for the turkey shoot, we see someone who attempted to escape being brought to the center of the camp. He’s given two round gasoline cans. He’s kicked around between the guards like a soccer ball. Chris doesn’t want to watch, but Paul makes her watch to teach her what the government believes in – fear and violence. By kicking the guy around with the cans of gas, it has left a trail of gas around the “playing field”. Once the gas has been emptied from the cans, the guards light it. The flames quickly make it to the poor kid and he goes up very fast.
That night, Paul, who is both trying to shelter Chris, but also teach her the cruelty of the world around her, is helping her out by watching out for her while she showers. She mentioned earlier that she would not be showering at the same time as the rest of the inmates. Hell, she doesn’t even take off her jumpsuit before getting under the running shower. While she bathes and Paul watches out for her, some guards come in with the plan of raping her. They pin Paul against the wall while the ringleader, who wanted to rape her earlier with his balless package, goes into the shower room. She kind of plays a little bit enough to be able to zip his dick up in his uniform.
When she runs out, she runs into Ritter, who shields her by claiming she’s “protected” by someone important.
So the next day is here and it’s almost time for our titular turkey shoot. We’ve met our four turkey shooters in Mallory, Jennifer, Tito, and Thatcher, but there was that fifth guy. That’s Tito’s friend Alph. Alph was found at a freak show in the circus. I already mentioned he has cannibalistic tendencies. But, can you guess what this guy looks like?
Just go into it. Think about what we’ve seen in this movie to this point. Ritter is an awesome enforcer type with his stache and his bald head. We have typical looking aristocrats. We can understand the story in the straight-forward sense of it being a dystopian future where a totalitarian government has risen in the aftermath of civil frustration. But did you guess there would be a werewolf man in this movie?
No, then allow me to introduce you to Alph…
Okay, he’s not a werewolf, but he might as well be a gentleman werewolf because look at him. Drink that in, motherfuckers. That’s going to be running around for the next several dozen minutes.
Thatcher has given legal IDs to Paul, Chris, Rita, and Dodge. These will allow them to leave the camp. Thatcher will give them three hours head start and all they have to do is survive the hunt for 12 hours and they are free. They will not get weapons to protect themselves.
Dodge reveals that he’s stolen a knife that another prisoner, Griff, had buried in the garden. Griff, upset, starts a fight with Dodge, which gets him added as the fifth member of the turkey shoot. The next morning, each target is released one by one. Chris is out first, then Dodge, who is sent out without his thick glasses which basically makes him blind. Griff is sent next and followed by Rita. Paul goes last to make it difficult for him to find and team up with Chris.
The hunters start on the path of the prey in various modes of transportation. Tito and Alph have something of a dune buggy/excavator. Jennifer rides a horse as if she’s going on a fox hunt. Mallory goes on foot with Ritter and the other guard, Red, who really wants to rape Chris. Finally, Thatcher has his own little all terrain vehicle.
It should come as no surprise that Dodge is the first to be found. He’s nearly run over by Tito and Alph. While on the ground, Alph rips off Dodge’s pinky toe and eats it. They then send Dodge on his way with a head start. Thatcher finds Paul walking along a cliff and considers ending his hunt right there, but deems it too easy and too fast. So he shoots him off the cliff and force him to jump in the river. You know… To shake him up a bit.
By the way, the way this movie is edited, I really don’t think Thatcher made good on his three-hour head start promise. Dodge and Paul are found almost immediately. Also, that knife did Dodge no good.
Red is hot on the trail of Griff, but Griff surprises him and takes his gun and radio. I’m beginning to think Griff is a real bad ass. Knowing that they are absolutely fucked and there’s no possible way any of them are going to be allowed to live free after sundown, Griff decides he’s gonna use that gun to take as many as he can with him.
Rita begs for him to take her with him, but he says he can’t. The thing is, she has a chance if it all goes right. He’s scheduled for execution and there’s no way to avoid his fate. Sure enough, while Dodge gets tossed around by Alph, Griff is cornered by Thatcher with his hunting rifle, and Jennifer’s exploding crossbow bolts.
It’s really important to point out exploding crossbow bolts because I feel like that has to play into Griff’s death… right?
Well, she hits Griff with a whole bunch of bolts, but, sadly, they don’t explode. However, he crawls onto the little path where he’s run over by Thatcher’s ATV and is nearly snapped in two from the weight of the thing. Still, a missed opportunity, Mr. Trenchard-Smith.
While on the trail for Chris, she overhears Secretary Mallory and Ritter talking about future plans. If Thatcher gets promoted, then it’s expected that Ritter will take his place. Ritter, well, Ritter likes this. Secretary Mallory also likes some of the thinking that Ritter has about the best way to deal with deviants – the ultimate solution of killing them all. That doesn’t sound very ethical, or morally correct, at all!
Ritter and Mallory find Red, but they don’t realize that releasing him will set off a booby trap! Which booby trap? The ol’ sticky pointy log to the midsection and/or dick!
Meanwhile, things aren’t really going all that well for the others. Rita has been locked onto by Jennifer and her sexy exploding bolts. Alph and Tito have found Paul. Back at the camp, Thatcher has strung Griff’s body up as an example of what happens when you disobey the rules.
It would seem that Alph and Tito are breaking the rules by going after Paul, but the penalty for breaking those rules is Paul sticking a tree branch into Alph’s eye socket and then Tito running into Alph with his little bulldozer and cutting his cannibal in half. Soon, Paul and Chris are able to find each other in a section of tall grass that Ritter is trying to burn her out of. Paul finds her just as Mallory is trying to I dunno, rape her in the middle of a burning patch of grass? He takes Mallory’s gun and shoots him in the balls. They take off running from Ritter while Mallory burns to death.
How’s Rita doing? Not great. She’s been cornered now by Jennifer. She tells Rita that she’s going to make her feel like she’s never felt before. She then goes in for a real sloppy kiss. Now… These are rules to a game I can support. Go get you some, Jennifer!
Oh… sorry. Sorry. She’s still a very, very bad person. She will probably still do the killing thing to Rita. Not cool.
Ritter still chases after Chris and Paul. He decides he wants to beat Paul up instead of using his machete. This is incredibly stupid. If you have a weapon and your objective is to kill a guy, don’t decide to drop said weapon and make things longer and harder for you. Why?
Because when you dick around, Olivia Hussey WILL cut your goddamn hands off with the very weapon you left behind.
Alright, so Alph, Mallory, Red, and Ritter are dispatched. Meanwhile, Rita has also been taken off the board. It turns out that Jennifer is quite the sadist. She’s used a crossbow bolt to cut Rita’s clothes off and then her body before jamming it into her throat.
So this does indeed leave Tito in his bulldozer, Jennifer, and Thatcher chasing after our only two remaining runners, Paul and Chris. Tito is the first to come upon our heroes. Chris is used to make Tito chase after her while Paul sneaks up from behind and gives him the ol’ machete headache. Jennifer meets up with Thatcher who is ordering his men to flood the surrounding area to kill everyone. Jennifer decides Thatcher isn’t up for what needs to be done and decides to go out and hunt down Chris and Paul. Paul takes Tito’s bulldozer and starts liberating the other inmates.
Apparently, they don’t account for the various fighter jets that are about to be scrambled to probably destroy everything in and around the camp? And yes, that’s exactly the deal. If the camp is no longer in “operational control”, they are to “wipe out” Camp 47. Paul instructs all the inmates to arm themselves and they plan to take out the communications for the base. Because there is no response from the camp, wipeout commences. With only about 7 minutes left before the camp is razed and the movie ends, things seem to be going the way of the deviants, until Jennifer shows up.
But, you see… Chris has learned a thing or two since being on the turkey hunt. One of those things is how to awesomely kill someone.
So while the inmates are now heavily armed, and the “wipeout” on its way, Paul tells them to make for the mountains after they fight their way through Thatcher’s men. Sure enough, Thatcher and his men come and we have a good ol’ fashioned machine gun standoff. A lot of people get shot and fall over. At one point, Paul yells, “THATCHER!” Thatcher, like a dumbass, stands up. I guess he realizes there are only, like, four minutes left so he’s gotta die.
But at least he goes out amazingly.
With the jet coming in to lay the place on fire with napalm, Paul and the inmates fall back and flee into the mountains while Camp 47 burns to the ground. Paul and Chris look at the destruction they wrought, smile, and look to where they will start a new life. We are left with a quote from H.G. Wells about revolutions start with the misfits and the movie ends.
I ain’t gonna lie… I don’t know what I expected out of this movie, but it turned out to be a little bit of everything. Holy cow the deaths of the bad guys. I mean… This was extremely fun. Granted, I know there was this “Most Dangerous Game” element to the movie. Sure. That was pretty standard fair to be honest with you. The prison camp was mostly standard fair. The whole idea of a dystopian future of authoritarian and totalitarian government rule is mostly standard fair. Add it all up, and we have something that is much greater than its parts. Heck of a movie, Mr. Trenchard-Smith.
Also, well done to your effects staffs for being really unique with the bad guy deaths.
Okay, so next week, it’s been waaaay long overdue. I need to get back to the library of Andy Sidaris. And in order to do that, I need to pick back up with the second film in his Triple-B Series, and maybe his most famous one to boot, Hard Ticket to Hawaii. Come back here in seven days to learn all about it, and why I’ve mostly had to stay clear of that movie and the Andy Sidaris flicks for so long.
Also, you know what you need to do. You need to get over to Facebook to follow the B-Movie Enema page. You also need to get onto Twitter and follow B-Movie Enema there as well. You should definitely know by now that B-Movie Enema’s YouTube Channel is where it’s at for both clips that I use here in the articles as well as episodes of B-Movie Enema: The Series. We’re only about 3 months away from the start of Season #2 so subscribe and get ready for those new episodes!
See you all back here in a week, my dear Enemaniacs!