When a new shipment of social undesirables arrive at a rehabilitation camp in the middle of nowhere, none of them are prepared for the harsh realities that this twisted prison has in store for them. But even in their wildest nightmares, none of them counted on being hunted for sport by those who run the camp…in Turkey Shoot.
Long before Battle Royale or The Hunger Games, Turkey Shoot, from director Brian Trenchard-Smith, forced a group of unwilling participants into a government-sanctioned game of survival aimed at ensuring a submissive populace through fear. Like those other stories, Turkey Shoot is inspired by even older stories, such as Richard Connell’s short story, The Most Dangerous Game: a group of in-the-know civilians find themselves captured and forced into this deadly game; they’re forced to flee and fight for survival as their numbers are slowly whittled down; and then, eventually, the tables are turned for a satisfying, climactic conclusion.
But while Turkey Shoot doesn’t necessarily add much new to the conversation, it is one of the earlier attempts at such a feature film. More so, it’s easily one of the most entertaining to watch due to its colorful, campy nature. The synth-heavy soundtrack. The bright colors. The wacky, colorful cast of characters–including some sort of Wolf Man from a circus freak show. Creative, fun, and over-the-top death scenes. And, best of all, the movie never wastes any time. It opens with a chase scene, moves right into the camp and all of the strange and unsettling things that happen there, and then just as quickly sets up the idea and threat of the turkey shoot before letting these prisoners loose into the wild to flee and fight for their lives.
There isn’t much in the way of filler. Not really. There is no larger conspiracy. No lore to indulge in or over-explain. And any moments of potential social commentary are left to speak for themselves. There’s certainly some message being made in Turkey Shoot, but Trenchard-Smith never stops the flow of the movie to beat you over the head with such things.
GOTTA LET ME FLY
Turkey Shoot isn’t perfect. The acting is hammy. The dialog is like something out of an old comic book or radio serial. The movie’s less than modest budget is apparent more often than not. And the movie sort of lacks any sort of real scares or tension due to its fairly quirky tone, though its more violent moments are pretty shocking in that same sort of comic book style.
None of this means that Turkey Shoot is a comedy, or some self-aware bit of filmmaking. Instead, it simply is a sincere-but-campy bit of 80s cinema. And it makes no apologies or excuses for it. And you should do the same should you heed my advice to to CHILL with Turkey Shoot.