Roger Corman produced, directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Boris “King Of Monsters” Karloff. This is effectively a B-Movie but is as close to A class as you can get. One of my favourites, it was an absolute pleasure to watch again this week after such a long time. It still shocks and thrills as much as it ever did, it’s very brutal yet compelling.
The whole film is brilliant by the fact that the iconic Boris is so darn delightful and turns out a magnificent performance and even gets to have some fun in this otherwise dark thriller. Boris plays Byron Orlok but is essentially playing himself. A famous horror star known mostly for his monster portrayals and has become disillusioned with the film business and his own mortality. Wishing to return to England he agrees to one last appearance at a drive in movie theater.
There is a wonderful scene where writer and friend Sammy Michaels (played by director Peter Bogdanovich, looking not unlike a young Jerry Seinfeld imho) stays over after a having a few too many whiskeys. Both realising they are drunk they collapse in the same bed together. There’s some nice banter moments about Boris’s looks and his jumping at his own reflection is pure class.
Tagline – TARGETS are people…and you could be one of them!
Right all the niceties aside I will move on to our nutjob, a forever smiling psychotic mass-murdering sniper known as Bobby Thompson, played by Tim O’Kelly. He really cuts a sinister note with his clean cut image and plastic smiles but under all that is a crazed rage and lust for death and carnage. Through his travels on the death spree it brings him to the drive-in theatre where our Byron, Sammy and the most beautiful PR girl you would ever see, Jenny played by Nancy Hsueh.
A few of my favourite scenes in this movie are, the above mention drunk hotel one, the cinema footage of the old guy loading and running the massive projector and Byron watching himself on the big screen as Boris in a film within a film moment. It’s a superb film and one of the best from the Roger Corman collection of hundreds of movies. Well worth checking it if you haven’t seen it already.
Fun Facts –Roger Corman told Peter Bogdanovich he could make any film he wanted to, with two conditions: he had to use stock footage from The Terror (1963), and he had to hire Boris Karloff for two days (Karloff was under contract and owed Corman those two days). Karloff was so impressed with the script that he refused pay for any shooting time over his contracted two days. He worked for a total of five days on the movie.
Fun Facts 2 – The movie shown at the drive-in is The Terror from 1963, directed by Roger Corman and stars a very young Jack Nicholson alongside Boris Karloff. I see also that Francis Ford Coppola helped on directing but is uncredited, starting to learn his craft.
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