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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Turkey Shoot (Blu-ray)
Turkey Shoot (Blu-ray)
Severin // R // September 22, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted September 25, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Turkey Shoot:
I'll probably catch hell for this, but Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000) is far more ‘turkey' than anything else. An also-ran from the ‘Ozploitation' camp, 1981's Turkey Shoot flies under the radar for all but the most hardened of international exploitation fans, and there are plenty of good reasons why it's not better-known: leaden pacing, inexplicable character choices, episodic through-put, and not enough gore, for the most part, make this an underwhelming choice for devotees of the wet stuff. Severin Films knocks it out of the park with this Blu-ray release, packed with nice extras, but is reaching to tout this as an offensive exploitation classic. Read on, if you don't already hate me too much.

Set in the dystopian late-1990s, Turkey Shoot opens with brutal real-life riot footage, leading us to believe there's a reason a bunch of yellow-jump-suit-wearing goofballs have been rounded up in a prison camp overseen by villains who would fit right in to an episode of Dr. Shrinker from the Krofft Supershow. That is, they'd fit in if the Krofft brothers allowed torture and the threat of rape to intrude, yet somehow these egregious acts never rise above that of a polite boil, even when said boil involves immolating a prisoner in a gassy game of keep-away. Head honcho Thatcher (Michael Craig) and his cronies sit around in brightly-lit offices, calmly discussing who they'd like to kill in their Most Dangerous Game-style contest, bypassing any real threat of soul-sullying for Colonial politesse.

Chief Guard Ritter (the awesome, iconic Roger Ward) does all the exploitation heavy lifting, as he tortures and torments his prisoners, but these actions are committed with tongue mostly in cheek, with very little air of sleaze and terror one would hope for in this type of movie. Before we conclude our hour of mild intrigue, Director Brian Trenchard-Smith introduces the completely left-field character Alph, (Steve Rackman) a sort-of portly werewolf, who will upon urging eat someone's toe but would much rather punch people out and use Professional Wrestling moves to subdue his victims. Alph makes about as much sense as forcing an R2D2 cameo into My Left Foot, but at least he's responsible for one of two really satisfying bit of gore in the movie. (The other being a reinstated scene of a major character torn apart by a machine gun.)

With that in mind, the leaden pacing of Turkey Shoot finally gives way, at the 57-minute mark, to the actual ‘turkey shoot', which plays out as a series of not-terribly-invigorating set-pieces in which multiple shots are fired but not enough blood is shed. A buxom blond prisoner runs through a stream, and heroes Paul (Steve Railsback) and Chris (Olivia Hussey) fight the good fight, such as it is. Any hope of feeling grimy or despairing (always good things in an exploitation movie) are wiped out by the end, and viewers expecting more from this putative legendary slice of down-under dirt will be left wanting to shoot the turkey.

Turkey Shoot represents a low-ball entry in the Ozploitation sweepstakes. Leaden pacing, not enough gore, (with two notable exceptions) inexplicable characters, and a tone that shirks its mandate to be cruel and despicable make this an exploitation near miss. Towering Roger Ward represents the most fun as the sadistic Chief Guard, and Severin Films does a bang-up job giving this release the respect it doesn't quite deserve. If you've got cash to burn, go for it, but I'm giving this just a bump above Rent It status.

The DVD

Video:
Turkey Shoot says "gobble gobble" in a great looking 1080p transfer from Severin. Details are sharp in the fore and mid-ground, and acceptable in the background as befitting this mid-‘80s release. Film grain is subtle and natural, and damage to the print is nearly non-existent. The same can be said for any compression problems or digital artifacts. This is definitely a presentation that is as good as it gets for an older cheapie movie.

Sound:
DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel audio is effective and solid, with good dimensionality for a stereo presentation. Dialog is clean and clear, and mixed well with the cheesy soundtrack. On the whole, this fairly basic audio track sounds quite fine.

Extras:
Extras include a Commentary Track from director Brian Trenchard-Smith, which is dry, but amusing, prideful but self-deprecating, and pretty scene specific. Though Trenchard-Smith is quite low-key, this is a pretty exemplary commentary track. Not Quite Hollywood Extended Interviews runs 75 minutes, and features tons of BTS memories (and film clips) from numerous members of the production staff and actors, including Trenchard-Smith, Roger Ward and many more. . The Ozploitation Renaissance, at 26 minutes, allows director Trenchard-Smith, producer Antony I. Ginnane and cinematographer Vincent Monton time to reminisce about their careers, places in the Australian film industry, and making Turkey Shoot. The 24-minute Featurette, Turkey Shoot: Blood & Thunder Memories finds the actors getting more specific about filming, while a vintage Interview with Trenchard-Smith finds the director espousing slightly more optimistic views about his movie. The Theatrical Trailer and an Alternate Opening with the US title Escape 2000 are also included.

Final Thoughts:
Turkey Shoot represents a low-ball entry in the Ozploitation sweepstakes. Leaden pacing, not enough gore, (with two notable exceptions) inexplicable characters, and a tone that shirks its mandate to be cruel and despicable make this an exploitation near miss. Towering Roger Ward represents the most fun as the sadistic Chief Guard, and Severin Films does a bang-up job giving this release the respect it doesn't quite deserve. If you've got cash to burn, go for it, but I'm giving this just a bump above Rent It status.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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