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Film / Targets

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Targets is a 1968 horror/thriller film, produced by Roger Corman and written and directed by Peter Bogdanovich, that focuses on two men in Los Angeles.

One is Byron Orlok (Boris Karloff), a beloved but aging horror film actor who has announced his decision to retire from film-making, feeling that Real Life is churning out more and far worse horrors than anything he can hope to put on screen. The other is young Vietnam vet Bobby Thompson (Tim O'Kelly), who unknowingly sets about proving Orlok's point when he finally snaps under the soulless banality of his existence, gathers up an arsenal, and goes on a deadly shooting spree. Inevitably, the paths of the two men cross...

The film is a worthy coda for Karloff's career, a fine directorial debut for Bogdanovich, and a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation of movie-makers to the next.


  • Adam Westing: Played for Drama. The aging veteran horror movie actor Boris Karloff, in one of his final roles, plays the aging veteran horror movie actor Byron Orlok, who's decided to retire because he thinks that real life is now scarier than any of his movies.
  • Affably Evil: After killing his wife and mother, Thompson, while buying numerous rounds, casually carries on a conversation with the gun store owner.
  • Ax-Crazy: Thompson, when he finally snaps.
  • Badass Bystander: Several drive-in patrons break out guns when they realize a sniper is out there, and then there's Orlok...
  • Bedmate Reveal: Orlok and Sammy get drunk and end up falling asleep in Sammy's bedroom. Sammy has a bad dream and startles himself awake:
    Orlok: [suffering from Hangover Sensitivity] Why did you yell?!
    Sammy: I was having a nightmare and I woke up next to Byron Orlok!
    Orlok: [sourly] Very funny.
  • Benevolent Boss: Orlok towards his assistant Jenny. Her being injured is part of what drives him to confront the shooter.
  • Cane Fu: Orlok disarms Thompson at the film's climax armed only with his cane.
  • Cold Sniper: Thompson is pretty calm during his shooting spree.
  • Crapsack World: One of Orlok's reasons for retiring is that the real world is becoming more horrifying than the scary movies he made. Considering how Thompson's shooting spree was based on the real-life Whitman shootings, he's depressingly correct.
  • Drive-In Theater: Where the climax of the film takes place.
  • Dumbass DJ: Orlok has to suffer through an interview with Kip Larkin, the DJ who will be interviewing him as part of his personal appearance at the drive-in. It takes mere seconds for Orlok to tire of Larkin's stereotypical patter about how his station plays the grooviest tunes on the air, and Sammy is likewise frustrated that Larkin seems to be treating the interview as a chance to promote himself rather than Orlok.
  • End of an Age: Orlok's retirement signals an end to the Monster and Mad Scientist era of horror films... with Thompson's shooting spree signaling the beginning of the next wave of horror based on human evils like serial killers.
    Orlok: The world belongs to the young. Make way for them. Let them have it. I am an anachronism.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Bobby Thompson has boyish good looks, but is a deranged mass murderer. The gun clerk that sells him a rifle even says he has a "nice face".
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: All of Orlok's scenes are shot in mellow autumnal shades, while Thompson's are cold sterile blues.
  • Gun Nut: Thompson has a truly staggering number of guns, and is a crack shot.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Orlok gives a lovely recitation of the story "An Appointment In Samarra." It doesn't seem to be told to anyone in particular, which would make it a Story Within a Story... though it could be meant for the moviewatchers.