Directed By: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Starring: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Michael Craig
Tag line: "Hunting is the national sport...and people are the prey!"
Trivia: Costar Lynda Stoner refused to appear nude for this movie, primarily because her contract didn't call for it. She eventually agreed, but only if shot from behind (which is how it appears in the finished film)
Take The Most Dangerous Game and mix in a generous helping of ‘70s Nazisploitation brutality (a la Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS or SS Camp 5: Women’s Hell) and you have Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Action/ Drama Turkey Shoot, an odd but ultimately entertaining 1982 action / drama set in a dystopian future (in this case, the year 2000) where freedom and democracy have given way to martial law.
Turkey Shoot centers on the inmates of Camp 47, a government-sponsored “Re-Ed” facility where society’s undesirables are sent for behavior modification. Run by the sadistic Charles Thatcher (Michael Craig), Camp 47 is set to sponsor a “Turkey Shoot”, an event in which several wealthy hunters get to track and kill an inmate of their choice through the surrounding forest. Among the undesirables chosen to participate are the camp’s three newest arrivals: Paul Anders (Steve Railsback), who’s escaped from other government-run facilities and is determined to bring the system to its knees; Chris Wallace (Olivia Hussey), a pretty brunette whose only crime was trying to stop the police form beating a prisoner to death; and Rita Daniels (Linda Stoner), a blonde accused of having loose morals. Joined by several others, including a slimeball named Dodge (John Ley), the trio are given a head-start, then are pursued by the various hunters, including Government Secretary Mallory (Noel Ferrier); the crossbow-wielding Jennifer (Carmen Duncan); the barbaric Tito (Michael Petrovitch), and Thatcher himself, who’s keen to take his frustrations out on Paul Anders. Despite the odds, the inmates band together to turn the tables on their pursuers, setting up a showdown the likes of which Camp 47 has never seen before.
Released in the United States as Escape 2000 (a version with 10 minutes of violence and nudity cut from it), Turkey Shoot is a nasty bit of Aussie exploitation, a picture chock full of cruelty, most of which is presented in graphic detail. Along with a scene where the chief guard, Ritter (played by the intimidating Roger Ward), beats a female inmate for forgetting the camp’s pledge, Turkey Shoot shows us what happens to those who try to escape before their “education” is complete; A young man who, at the start of the movie, slipped out by hiding under a delivery truck is eventually recaptured and subjected to what Dodge tells the others is a “ball game”, where the prisoner is given two round containers of gasoline, and is then tossed around the courtyard, spilling a little gas every step of the way. When he’s back in the center, the guards form a circle around him, and each one strikes a match. Within seconds, the poor guy is burned alive.
The hunt itself fills the last half of Turkey Shoot, and takes the violence even further; shortly after beginning his pursuit, Tito catches up with Dodge and orders his companion Alph (Steve Rackman), a former carnival freak who resembles the wolf man, to tear off Dodge’s little toe (which the beastly Alph then eats) and then set him free. Unable to run very fast, Dodge is soon overtaken again, at which point his suffering is intensified. This is but a single example (and a mild one at that) of the graphic violence on display in the second half of Turkey Shoot, and while not all of the carnage is convincing (the scene where a character’s hands are cut off is almost laughable), odds are you’ll be wincing through the entirety of the film’s final 45 minutes.
Shot on-location in Queensland, Turkey Shoot certainly isn’t Trenchard-Smith’s best work (for my money, that honor belongs to Dead End Drive-In), but it’s definitely his most vicious, making it a movie that die-hard ozploitation fans won’t want to miss.