A.k.a. ESCAPE 2000; BLOOD CAMP THATCHER.
Paul Anders (Steve Railsback, LIFEFORCE; COCKFIGHTER) is a militant DJ for underground station Radio Freedom. Midway through a tirade berating the government for treating people like slaves, he is coshed by two state policemen and led away.
Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey, BLACK CHRISTMAS) is the innocent shopper who has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time (Railsback attempts to hide in a crystal shop whilst attempting a getaway), and so she too is dragged against her will by the police.
Together the young strangers are sent to the government-financed labour camp, Camp 97, led by the impassionate Charles Thatcher (Michael Craig, VAULT OF HORROR) and his bastard henchman Ritter (Roger Ward, Fifi from MAD MAX; STONE). Here the objective is to take subversive individuals and put them through a punishing regime that will ultimately break their spirit and recondition them into submissive "assets to society".
At the camp, the new recruits find their way around their new dwellings - a huge compound in the middle of the desert, where all captives are dressed in sand overalls. Rules and conditions of the camp are endlessly read out over loudspeakers, even while prisoners shower together in communal blocks. Prisoners congregate daily outdoors to observe one of their flock being tortured at random for the amusement of visiting governors.
We learn at the camp that Anders has escaped from similar camps previously, and for this he has been specially selected along with a group of other 'civilians' to participate on a "special project" …
Anders and co are told by Thatcher that they are free to leave the camp - all they have to do is become the subject of a 'chase' for one day. Thatcher has organised a game for the benefit of his aristocratic friends. If Anders and his cohorts can survive the hunt, they will earn their freedom.
It's an idea that has been used many times in exploitation cinema, before and since TURKEY SHOOT (SURVIVING THE GAME; THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME; SEVEN WOMEN FOR SATAN; HARD TARGET; THE RUNNING MAN etc). This is by far the best translation of it to the screen though.
The aristocratic hunters are so despicable, and the violence they dole out on the lower classes so excessive, that it's hard at times not to draw comparisons to Pasolini's SALO too. But don't fret: whereas SALO is sombre and potent, this is FUN.
It's sadistic fun, granted. People are mercilessly whipped, beaten, shot and stalked; a toe is torn off to impede one man's getaway; Hussey endures an attempted rape; one woman is literally kicked to death in front of her fellow prisoners for failing to have correctly memorised the camp's mandatory mantra … classic stuff. But the suffering the hunted go through only serves to make the inevitable scenes of them fighting back all the more satisfying …
Set in the "near future" (actually the year 2000, but the film was shot in 1981), TURKEY SHOOT offers a brutal glimpse into a Big Brother state where anyone who dares to think for themselves is taken off the streets and thrown into vicious camps ran by whip-cracking bullies and upper-class head-master types who mix civilised conversation with their peers, with brutalising the poorer classes for their own amusement. In many ways the earlier scenes with Thatcher barking out rules to his captives are evocative of Alan Clarke's equally superb SCUM.
The whole concept of the labour camps is expertly conceived: rife with social commentary and political warning shots. But as much as this film has a message about the dangers of complacency, it doesn't forget to entertain it's audience either.
British director Brian Trenchard-Smith (BMX BANDITS [!!]) keeps the pace ticking over nicely - TURKEY SHOOT allows it's characters to develop and it's premise to be built into the viewer's psyche convincingly, while remaining flab-free and filled with frequent outbursts of bone-crunching action to keep those looking for pure exploitation interested too!
The musical score is provided by the very talented Brian May (no, not the former Queen guitarist with the ridiculous curls - rather, the Australian composer also responsible for MAD MAX and the ROAD WARRIOR). May's score is often sensational and melodramatic, adding a zany sense of excitement to proceedings.
The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer here is simply beautiful. The grain on display is minimal, images are crisp and sharp, and colours are deep and free from saturation or bleeding. Having only ever seen the pre-certificate UK video release from years back, it was a joy to see the film looking this clean - and in it's original aspect ratio. A sterling job.
Audio-wise, the original mono soundtrack has been preserved and it does it's job nicely. Dialogue is loud and clear, while May's rousing soundtrack is mixed nicely into the fray.
The extras are limited to a poster gallery which is small but interesting, and the original theatrical trailer - which is in decent shape. Finally, there is the standard ensemble of trailers for other Hardgore releases: RED MONKS; NUTBAG; I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE; BANGKOK HELL, etc.
Menu pages are static but colourful to look at nonetheless (including a Scene Selection menu offering access to the movie via 12 chapters).
The disc is housed in an Amaray-style keepcase and is Region 0 PAL encoded.
TURKEY SHOOT is a brilliant film, and has never looked better than it does here. Three cheers to Hardgore, not only for picking up the rights to such a great film, but releasing the rarely seen fully uncensored version in such a pristine print.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Hard Gore|
|Region All PAL|
|Extras : see main review|