Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TURKEY SHOOT (1981) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)

Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Cast: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Michael Craig, Roger Ward, John Ley, Lynda Stoner, Gus Mercurio, Carmen Duncan, Steve "Crusher" Rackman, Michael Petrovich, Noel Ferrier

Brian Trenchard-Smith's Turkey Shoot (1982) a ridiculous Australian update of the classic man-hunt movie The Most Dangerous Game with some trashy women-in-prison tropes and and dystopian future stuff thrown into the mix for some added entertainment value. Set in the once futuristic sounding year of 2000 the government doesn't care much for dissent among the people, you're either a non-questioning member of society or you are interred in one of the prison camps where you are subjected to a nightmarish blend of social re-education and behaviour modification including physical punishment, rape and brutal murder.

The most notorious of the concentration camps is Camp 47, which is where we catch up with three subversive members of society sent for rehab, there's an innocent shopkeeper Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey, Black Christmas), a suspected whore Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner) and repeat dissident Paul Anders (Steve Railsback, Lifeforce) notorious for having previously escaped from the other camps. The prison facility is run by sinister character warden type character Charles Thatcher played by actor Michael Craig (Vault of Horror), a role that could have easily been over-the-top but the actor keeps it pretty straight-faced, which works quite nicely against Railsback who seems to be off on another planet as the unbreakable subversive Anders, we have yet again another overly intense character from Railsback, which is a lot of fun, he keeps it entertaining.Olivia Hussey as the innocent seems a bit frazzled, not sure if that's her character or just her, it's noted on the special features she was deathly afraid of the Aussie wildlife, whatever the reason her fear translates well on-screen, but the woman just cannot handle weaponry, she looks pretty damn ridiculous firing a mounted 50 cal rifle.

Thatcher has a pair of henchmen who enforce the camp rules, the brute Ritter (Roger Ward, Mad Max) and the whip-wielding Red (Gus Mercurio, The Blue Lagoon), both of whom taunt and brutalize the subversives interred at the camp for fun. Ritter at one point makes an example of a young woman whom he nearly beats to death when she cannot recite the camp mantra, another is burned alive after an escape attempt, while Anders is made to stand in a narrow cage under a large weight which threatens to crush him. All this prison camp stuff is just foreplay to the real meat of the movie - the titular turkey shoot - a manhunt sponsored by Thatcher for the benefit of his wealthy friends. We have Secretary Mallory (Noel Ferrier, The Year of Living Dangerously), and VIPs Jennifer (Carmen Duncan, Harlequin) and Tito (Michael Petrovich, The Exorcism of Hugh). Each of the VIPS, including Thatcher, select a prisoner from camp to hunt for sport with the understanding that if the prisoner is able to evade the hunters until sundown they will have earned their freedom and entrance back into society. The chances of the unarmed prisoners making it till sundown seems pretty damn slim, but they have little 

opportunity to complain.

The weapons of choice used by the hunters include a paralyzing pistol, a crossbow with explosive-tipped bolt, and then there's my favorite of the bunch, a nutty looking man-beast named Alph (Steve "Crusher" Rackman) who looks a bit like Mr. Hyde with his top-hat! Once the prisoner's are released the game is on and as you might expect the tables are turned as the hunters become the hunted. The ensuing violence is action-pack, weird and loads of fun as the some of the hunted are killed-off in a myriad of gruesome ways and the wealthy cronies get a proper comeuppance, culminating in an action-packed air strike by the government. 

Turkey Shoot is not a flawless movie by any means, the special effects can be a bit goofy but the b-movie action and carnage is straight-up entertaining from start to finish, though some of the early camp scenes do go on for a bit too long, basically a vignette of scenes modelled after women-in-prison movies. Some of it is played for thrills and some just seem to be comedy, such as when the half-man, half-beast circus freak bites off the pinky-toe before giving his victim a fatal back-breaker wrestling move, it's just goofy stuff. Carmen Duncan as the deadly huntress with a crossbow is a lot of fun, filled with murderous desire and list, sending one bolt after another into the flesh of her victims with so much delight. There are some nice moments of gore peppered throughout, we have a pair of hands chopped off at the wrist which is done very nicely, the after image of the victims hands pulled up inside his sleeve not so much, ha ha. someone else meets their end when they are sliced in half by the plow of a bulldozer, screaming in pain as his lower half and entrails slide down a tree. Not all the effects are as effective, but Trenchard-Smith front loads this one with plenty of action and b-movie carnage. 

Audio/Video: Turkey Shoot arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Films looking very nice, uncut and restored from the original camera negative, offering an eye-popping presentation of this Ozploitation nutter. A few minor blemishes here and again by way of white speckling but otherwise very nice, a little on the soft side at times but colors are solid, black levels are nice and skint ones look accurate, I only wish there'd been more of Olivia Hussey bare-skin to properly judge, ha ha. audio comes by way of an English language DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo track that is also solid and renders audio crisp and clean, free of distortion, the Brian May score, dialogue and sound effects come through strong, there are no subtitle options. 

Onto the extras we have what appear to be all the bonus content from the old Escape 2000 DVD from Anchor Bay including the Brian Trenchard-Smith commentary plus a 10-minute interview with BT-S in one of his patented Hawaiian short. They also carry-over the  24-minute Blood and Thunder Memories featurette with actors Michael Craig, Roger Ward and Lynda Stoner, the latter of whom doesn't exactly seem to love the movie, scoffing at the idea that it is a cult-classic, not a phrase she seems to appreciate. They also have the Escape 2000 Alternate Title Sequence and the original theatrical trailer for the movie.

Severin have brought a new wave of extras for their Blu-ray, beginning with 77-minutes of extended interviews with Brian Trenchard Smith, Antony I. Ginnane, Steve Railsback, Lynda Stoner, Roger Ward, Gus Mercurio, Bob McCarron from director Mark Hartley's awesome Not Quite Hollywood doc, which are all focused on Turkey shoot. If you have not seen the doc 
it is mandatory viewing for b-movie and cult cinema fans. 

The Ozploitation Renaissance – round table discussion with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, producer Antony I. Ginnane and Ozploitation cinematographer Vincent Monton regroups the creative trio who brought us the movie as they discuss the ozploitation heyday and the various films they worked on, from the early sexploitation movies through to the nadir of the scene, more good stuff.  

Special Features:
- Not Quite Hollywood Extended Interviews with Brian Trenchard Smith, Antony I. Ginnane, Steve Railsback, Lynda Stoner, Roger Ward, Gus Mercurio, Bob McCarron (77 Mins) SD 

- The Ozploitation Renaissance – round table discussion with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, producer Antony I. Ginnane and Ozploitation cinematographer Vincent Monton. (26
minutes) HD
- Turkey Shoot: Blood and Thunder Memories – featurette (24 minutes) (24 Mins) SD
- Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview (10 minutes) (10 Mins) SD
- Audio Commentary with Director Brian Trenchard-Smith
- Turkey Shoot Trailer (3 Mins) SD
- Escape 2000 Alternate Title Sequence (2 Mins) SD

- Blood Camp Thatcher Alternate Title Sequence (2 Mins) SD (Easter Egg) 

Turkey Shoot is everything you would expect from a Ozploitation update of The Most Dangerous Game, a sleazy, action-packed slice of b-movie perfection. The Blu-ray from Severin looks mighty impressive and is stuffed with value-added extras, a very high recommend for b-movie fanatics who crave some mondo exploitation in HD.