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Saturday, October 9, 2010

October Horror Movie of the Day #9 - Targets

The Film: Targets
The Director: Peter Bogdanovich
The Cast: Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, Nancy Hsueh
Release Date: August 15, 1968

Classic horror meets real-world terror in Peter Bogdanovich's directorial debut, Targets, starring the late Boris Karloff.  Karloff stars (in an almost autobiographical role) as Byron Orlok, an aging horror movie star who's sick of Hollywood and the state of horror cinema.  He's promoting a film he hates, arguing with his own publicist (director Bogdanovich), and getting scared of his own reflection in a mirror.  Orlok represents what was once terrifying, but at this point is just a bit old.

On the other side of town, a young man decides he's had enough with life as it is.  He kills his family, takes up a sniper rifle, and begins to pick off motorists and bystanders for no good reason.  When he needs somewhere else to take his shots, he sets up at a drive in movie theater - the same theater where Orlok's film is premiering that night.

Targets is one of the most profound statements about society that has ever been put in a horror film, and Bogdanovich does a fine job of showing the disconnect between the old ways of scaring audiences and the events in the news that should give Americans far more fear.  Karloff is incredibly natural as Orlok - he's stated that he shared many of the character's opinions on horror films at this stage in his life - and carries the film well.  His final scene is one of the most powerful images in horror history, and it all comes together to make Targets a true classic.