Targets (Peter Bogdanovich, 1968) wr. Peter Bogdanovich, story by Polly Platt & Peter Bogdanovich, prod. Peter Bogdanovich, exec. prod. Roger Corman, dp László Kovács, ed. Peter Bogdanovich, production and costume design Polly Platt; Tim O'Kelly (Bobby Thompson), Boris Karloff (Byron Orlok), ... Peter Bogdanovich (director); elderly horror film star making a personal appearance at a drive-in theatre confronts a psychotic Vietnam vet who has turned into a mass-murdering sniper

The film is partly based on the 1965 Highway 101 event, when Michael Andrew Clark shot and killed three people from a hill near Orcutt CA, aiming at targets as they moved along the highway.

There is no non-diegetic music in the film. In the 'normal' scenes, in the family home, there is a lot of background noise from TV and music on the radio, but once the shooting starts there is only diegetic sound.

There are two story strands, kept separate for most of the duration, but which come brilliantly together at the climax, when the shooter is confused between the image of Boris Karloff on the drive-in screen and Byron Orlock striding towards him from the opposite direction. Orlock (Karloff) strikes the gun out of the villian's hand, looks at him and says, 'Is that what I was afraid of?' The shooter is led away, saying, 'I hardly ever missed.'

Cf. Peeping Tom, the 1960 Michael Powell film about a murderer who literally kills with his camera so that he can record the moment of death. In this one, the murderer is inside the screen at a drive-in theatre through which he can see enough to take aim at individuals in the audience when the lights in their cars come one. So it's arguably not the camera that is doing the killing in this case but (apparently) the film. The film on the drive-in screen is The Terror (Roger Corman, 1963), which starred Boris Karloff (1887-1969, with Jack Nicholson).

References and links

The Wikipedia page for the Californian event.

The IMDb pages include this 'trivia' note:

The sequence with Bobby Thompson shooting people in cars driving on a freeway from the top of an oil storage tank was loosely inspired by the Highway 101 sniper attack where on April 25, 1965, a 16-year-old alienated youth, named Michael Andrew Clark, shot at motorists from a hilltop along Highway 101 just south of Orcutt, California, killing three and injuring 10 others before committing suicide. Prior to the shooting spree, Clark left behind a note vowing to make his parents "die a thousand times in court" for his actions, and he was right; a lawsuit was brought against Clark's parents by two of the victim's families for mistreating and not raising their son well, and negligence for allowing Clark access to the hunting rifle used for the shooting spree.

Garry Gillard | New: 3 March, 2017 | Now: 26 December, 2022