On its initial release when Ozploitation was at its peak, Turkey Shoot was not received favourably especially from its homegrown audience in Australia. And yet it garnered a deeper appreciation under the title Blood Camp Thatcher, the name carrying a double edged meaning for its tyrannical camp commander, Charles Thatcher (Michael Craig), but probably more so for his namesake and a certain political leader in the UK who was not looked on in a kind light.
Since then, the film has picked up a cult following which in part is due to Quentin Tarantino who cited it as an influential movie. Personally I think that Turkey Shoot has a lot of charm, infusing a dystopian, totalitarian world with The Dangerous Game. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith also has a knack for producing stellar action flicks with a strong, entertaining beat.
Trapped in a controlled Government with supreme views, those who oppose this ruling are gathered up and shepherded to a concentration camp to either be conformed to society or be subjected to Thatcher’s will. In some cases this involves the turkey shoot, a hunt set by Thatcher and his associates, including a horse-riding, crossbow wielding socialite, Jennifer (Carmen Duncan); Secretary Mallory (Noel Ferrier); Tito, a violent sadist and his beast-like man; and Roger Ward as the camp guard, who between pick out degenerates from the camp to offer a false illusion of freedom while they track them down and kill.
Our team of misfits contain Paul Anders (Steve Railsbeck) as the Steve McQueen-esque Cooler King who has escaped from numerous camps; Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner) an accused prostitute; Griffin (Bill Young) another escapee of numerous camps; Dodge (John Ley) a bumbling, yet loyal prisoner; and Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey), a shopkeeper falsely accused of aiding a rebel.
It’s a simple enough story but with its outlandish methods of being tracked by their pursuers, the film carries a certain energy that keeps you gripped and entertained.
For those unfamiliar with the Ozplotiation scene, Turkey Shoot is a great entry into the genre.
It carries some great set pieces that are of the extreme and tick the boxes of satisfaction when they come about.
The cast deserve recognition too, but this is Trenchard-Smith’s movie and its his vision that is on show and peppers the film with such vigour and the character of the film shines throughout as a result.
- Saul Muerte