Saturday, March 12, 2011

TARGETS - Greene/Stone & The Daily Flash - "Radio Music" (1968)

is one sick flick, that's for sure, but it's a good one! The subject of snipers five years after the killing of JFK, or at any time, even today, is unpleasant at best, and down right scary, and to make a tongue in cheek movie about the subject is even more unsettling, but it works!! "Targets" is loosely based on the character of Charles Whitman, the sniper who killed 16 people and wounded 32 in 1966 at the University of Texas!

"Targets" is considered by most people to be Boris Karloff's last film, even though he managed to be in 4 more movies, the British "Cult Of The Crimson Altar," and the three Mexican flicks "Cauldron Of Blood," "Isle Of The Snake People," and "Alien Terror," but "Targets" was truly his last real starring role!

Despite having a partial lung, on oxygen, and nearly crippled, Boris gives yet another awesome performance, as the over the hill and tired horror movie icon, Byron Orlok, and looks great while doing it!! In this scene he's having a discussion with the writer and famed director of "Targets" Peter Bogdanovich, who also was in the movie as the aspiring film director Sammy Michaels! The last film Peter directed was a 2007 documentary about Tom Petty, and he's still acting today!

Across the street, at the friendly local gun shop, Bobby Thompson tests out the sight on a high powered rifle. Bobby will tell his family when he gets home that he sighted Byron Orlok while he was out! "Targets" has so many little inside details going on, they could have titled it "Trivial Pursuit!"

Tim O'Kelly turns in a fine performance as the very convincing Bobby Thompson, your basic, common, every day psycho!!! Most of Tim's work was on TV, and he was The Royal Jester character on the "Batman" TV show! He was only in two other movies, "For Pete's Sake," and the weird ass flick "The Grasshopper" with Jacqueline Bisset that I actually saw at a drive-in in Alaska. You haven't lived if you've never been to the drive-in movie when the temperature is like 10 degrees!

The Thompsons are your typical All-American family! James Brown is the father, Robert Thompson Sr, Mary Jackson plays the mother, Charlotte Thompson, and Tanya Morgan is Bobby's wife, Ilene. James Brown was in 162 episodes of the "Rin Tin Tin" TV series as Lieutenant Rip Masters, and had a long career playing cops, sheriffs, detectives, forest rangers, and cowboys! You've seen Mary Jackson everywhere from "Dobie Gillis" to My Three Sons," but she's probably best known for her role as Emily Baldwin on "The Waltons," or Crawldaddy in the 1990 flick "Skinned Alive!" Tanya Morgan went on to be in the "Pink Garter Gang," but that was just about it for her!

Bobby always calls his dad "Sir" but they seem to have a pretty good relationship, that is, until Dad catches junior playfully aiming his rifle at his head!

It's just really hard to imagine a happier family, TV and popcorn, milk and cookies!

Shift gears, because it's time for Bobby to show his true colors, and basically without warning, first, he shoots his loving wife in the stomach.......

.......and then, it's Mom's turn to get gunned down, before Bobby decides to go out and take on the whole world one bullet at a time!

In the meantime, Byron Orlok wants to retire, and doesn't want to make a personal appearance at the local drive-in, so there's a great scene where Peter and Boris get drunk and watch the Howard Hawks movie "Criminal Code" on TV.

There is essentially no soundtrack or music credits for the movie "Targets." What there is are snippets of radio noise and music while Bobby is out driving his Mustang around, that sound a lot like the "Firesign Theatre. Although they got no credit, some of the radio music consists of a song called "Green Rocky Road", performed by the Seattle band "The Daily Flash," instead, their managers Charles Greene and Brian Stone took the credit. Who knows where the rest of it came from! "The Daily Flash" original members were Steve Lalor, Don MacAllister, Jon Keliehor, and Doug Hastings, and they have quite a story themselves, stuff like Doug Hastings played guitar with Buffalo Springfield after Neil Young quit, and the story goes on and on! Doug Hastings went on to play in what is considered by some to be one of rock's first supergroups, "Rhinoceros!" The wacky DJ voice heard on the radio is Southern California legendary DJ The REAL Don Steele!

Jewish standup comedian Sandy Baron plays the fast talkin' DJ Skip Larkin who is going to do Byron's intro at the drive-in. Sandy Baron wrote the lyrics to Lou Rawls smooth hit song, "Natural Woman!" Larkin's natural woman here is played by Geraldine Baron! When Kip Larkin tells Orlok that he's seen so many of his movies that it blew his mind, Byron Orlok responds with "Obviously!"

To add to all that talent, why does "Targets" look so good? You can once again thank the keen eye of phenom cinematographer László Kovács for that!

After sniping a number of innocent people on the highway, Bobby is forced to take refuge at the local drive-in movie to avoid the cops! It just so happens that it is the same drive-in where Byron Orlok is scheduled to make a brief appearance, despite really not wanting to, that same very evening!

It's still early, so not very many people have showed up at the movie yet, except for the diehard Byron Orlok fans. Bobby moves his Mustang convertible into position for a good view, and before long, the sun slowly goes down, and the evening's presentation can begin! I saw "The Magnificent Seven" at the drive-in once, and they started the movie way too soon, before it was completely dark, and there was a campfire scene that was dark, so you couldn't hardly see anything! Never go to the drive-in during the full moon either, for more than one obvious reason!

I love these two shots! The drive-in was a way of life, you didn't have to get dressed up, or if you were lucky, your parents would let you go in your pajamas! What difference did it make? It was great!!

But there was always some butthead who was drunk or wanted to start a fight, or in this case, Bobby Thompson, a soulless maniac killing machine, Hellbent on random death and destruction! Bobby has found himself a place directly behind the screen, so he has a vast array of targets to choose from, and nobody can see him or where the shots are coming from!

By the time Byron is arriving on the scene with his personal assistant, Nancy Hsueh as Jenny, Bobby has already plugged a few people, but nobody has really noticed yet because the sound of the movie is so loud!

Now if Bobby didn't want to draw attention to himself, then he really shouldn't have shot the projectionist!!

Eventually all Hell breaks out, and people are getting shot all over the place as Bobby releases his hatred of the world on a cast of blameless and unknowing participants!

Byron shows his disdain for a weak and powerless sniveling little coward!!

When it's all over, the sun comes back up again, and there's just one more car to tow away, a Mustang convertible!!


prof. grewbeard said...

this one really brought the movie back for me. i think Ray Dennis Steckler could have directed this one, though. the only time i went to the drive-in with my parents we saw "Goldfinger" whenabouts it came out and i loved the whole experience, especially when the Gold Lady showed up and my folks were mortified...

Christopher said...

We used to go to the drive-in with our parents in our pajamas..You go to the snack bar and could see other kids the same way..I remember seeing Dr. No at the drive-in....
I love Targets,its in my top 10..Its a little slice of 1960s LA.I'm glad you mentioned something about the music heard on the Car radio,I've always thought it sounded familiar.Lets harkin Larkin!

Der Monstada said...

Film release date: August 15, 1968

RFK was shot June 6, 1968
MLK was shot April 4, 1968

The film was based on Charles Whitman

The appearance of Boris Karloff in the film was because he owed studio head Roger Corman two days of work.

Reseda Drive-In was open 1949 - 1985

It had a vehicle capacity of 740

Located off Etiwanda, north of Van Owen, near Reseda Boulevard in Reseda, California

Drake said...

Tim O'Kelly was the original Danny "Dan-O" Williams in the Hawaii Five-O pilot.

Frances said...

While you could get to reminisce scenes from the movies with these tracks, these would definitely not be good instore music.

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??