Friday, August 3, 2012

Movie of the Week #31: Turkey Shoot (Escape 2000)

I first became aware of Turkey Shoot (called Escape 2000 in the US) when it was featured in Not Quite Hollywood, that brilliant documentary about Australian cinema that's an absolute must for any film fan. I was lucky enough to find it was eventually added to Netflix, and it became my last DVD rental before I suspended my subscription for the summer.

Cashing out with a genre flick? Why not?

Franco Zeffirelli never made her do this crap.
Opening with footage of riots, we find ourselves in your typically simple-minded movie-style "oppressive, totalitarian future" where "life is cheap." We find our jump-suited captive protagonists; Rita, Chris, and Paul, on the "Re Ed B-Mod" bus. They're being lugged to a re-education camp where, as "deviants," they'll be offered a chance for freedom if they can survive one day as prey for the idle rich ruling-class hunters. While Paul is a rebellious rable-rouser, Chris and Rita seem to have just been pretty girls caught up in an evil system. At "Blood Camp Thatcher," (another alternate title for the film) torture and slave-labor rule the day. Thankfully, so do co-ed group showers, so it can't be too bad.

Our prisoners, along with another named Dodge, are set loose for their one day as rabbits. Along with the hunting party there's some professional-wrestling caliber prison guards and an honest-to-goodness fanged circus freak. The last makes for a very weird touch to this sleazy pile of class-warfare exploitation worthy of Jess Franco (this fits nicely in-between Le Comtesse Perverse and its re-imagining, Tender Flesh). The hunt starts at the halfway point, with each member of the party assigned their own target. The chase makes use of some gorgeous forest, river, and mountain scenery. While the yellow jumpsuits may not be flattering, the natural surroundings make up for it. Along with the landscape, there's some restraint for all the exploitation here. There's nudity and gore here, but less than you'd anticipate. What there is plays out with a bit of discretion. This would be easy to edit for TV without diluting the tone. Believe it or not, that's a testament to the craftsmanship of accomplished director Brian Trenchard-Smith. He also puts the audience in a mood generous enough to indulge the circus freak and precious effects like someone hiding their hands up their sleeves because they've been "cut off."

Not Bette Davis Eyes
Chris and Paul are played by Olivia Hussey and Steve Railsback, actors possessed of unusual voices (and unusually flat affect). they're our less-than-stirring leads to root for in this trash-rehash of "The Most Dangerous Game." Hussey is particularly ill-served by what may be film's least-flattering topless shot. It's either of a rather droopy-torsoed body double or just some seriously awful framing, either way a sad legacy for the girl famously banned from seeing her own film, Romeo and Juliet, because she was too young to legally witness her own nude scene. Meanwhile, Railsback gets to deliver a fight scene with punching so wimpy you have to assume it's supposed to be humorous. Australian film and television actors round out the cast, and will be unfamiliar to most American audiences. The pulchritudinous Lynda Stoner, playing Rita, seems mostly here to provide some major jiggle when running.

Toe torture, jungle booby-traps, murder by gasoline, exploding arrows; there's creativity amid the trashiness here. But that's to be expected. It takes thinking outside the box to sleaze up an old chestnut like "The Most Dangerous Game" with this much trash panache. Things even wrap up with more lovely violence and explosions than an audience has a right too. In Turkey Shoot, Seventies Sleaze meets Eighties Sleaze in a high-gloss, mean-spirited, yet oddly polite, classic... with absolutely no redeeming values beyond entertainment.

The Camp Credo:
Freedom is Obedience
Obedience is Work
Work is Life


  1. Wasn't there another movie with the same title on MST3K? Some chunk head was fighting to save the Bronx from gentrification...

  2. There's a different Escape 2000, called Escape From the Bronx, that they did. It's Italian and the sequel to 1990: The Bronx Warriors. I haven't seen it but I'm sure it's wonderfully awful.