Turkey Shoot (1982, aka Escape 2000)

Turkey Shoot (1982, aka Escape 2000)Synopsis:

In the near future, a totalitarian society has created prison camps to modify the behavior of the unruly population. Paul Anders (Steve Railsback, The Stunt Man), Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey, Romeo and Juliet), and Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner, Crawl) are new arrivals that can’t adapt to the strict structure of the re-education facility. All three prisoners are presented with a dangerous, but hard to resist offer: the government will free them if they survive a big-game hunting safari in which they are the prey.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000Blood Camp Thatcher), directed by Brian Trenchard-Smit (Dead End Drive-In), was described by cast members as “85 minutes of schlock” and “an adult Disney film.” That pretty much summarizes it. It’s a terrible movie, but if you look at it as “Roger-Corman-adapts-Richard Connell’s-short story The Most Dangerous Game” you might have some fun with it.

Turkey Shoot is one of those “so-bad-it’s-good B-movies.” It was supposed to be some kind of Orwellian allegory for the consumption of the counterculture. The symbols are obvious. For example, the prisoners are young while the ruling class is composed of older men. The main baddie (Michael Craig, Mysterious Island) is named Thatcher (yep, you got the joke). The rulers’ black attire makes them look like Catholic priests (a stab at organized religion). But director Trenchard-Smith’s approach is humorously tasteless.

This troubled production faced numerous obstacles. The budget suffered a cut of more than 25%. In the film industry that means that you have to eliminate the most important elements in any script: story and character development. That left the film with a series of meaningless action sequences, gore, and gratuitous nudity. But because it takes itself so seriously, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdities.

It’s definitely an amusing curio. One of the villains is always making weird sexual innuendos. There is also a mute wolfman-like creature who eats human toes (I’m not kidding you!). And the madness goes on and on. Actors distanced themselves from it, and the Australian film community was outraged.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Turkey Shoot was a big hit in Europe and it has become a cult favorite. Judge for yourself. With Carmen Duncan, Roger Ward, Bill Young, and Gus Mercurio. P.S. The film was re-cut and re-released minus some “offensive” material. This version was re-titled Escape 2000. The Starz/Anchor Bay DVD (R1) contains the uncensored version. Color, 93 minutes, Rated R.

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