I've got to tell you from the very beginning that I've only seen this Movie once so don't get upset if this article is even more of a mess than all of the other ones I've written around here. I heard of "Targets" years ago but I've been too busy with my career to ever get around to actually seeing it. I never got around to seeing my career either, but at least there is documented evidence of the existence of a Motion Picture entitled "Targets" so when I ran into "Targets" on TCM (The only cable channel I can watch without seeing people I met while trying to begin my career and throwing a jealous fit) I thought "Oh, well, if 'The John Saleeby Show' isn't on tonight I might as well watch this."
"Targets" presents a day in the Life of a Young Man who murders his Mother and his Wife, shoots up the local highway, and then goes to the Drive In Movie to fire into the audience from the top of the screen. Yes, that all sounds sooo hum drum and ordinary to those of us here in 2009, but "Targets" is set in the early Sixties when Mass Murder was still considered to be "Shocking" and "Bizarre". They didn't even have Sit Coms with Masturbation Jokes! Stone Age, Daddy-O! Meanwhile, a washed up old Horror Movie Star - Played by Boris Karloff (Bela Lugosi was busy chugging aftershave with Ed Wood) - is preparing to make a Publicity Appearance at a Drive In Movie showing his latest film. He is a Sad Old Man with all the usual Sad Old Man problems but he is portrayed by the freak with the Metal Bolts in the sides of his neck in "Frankenstein" so it's not too depressing. Also, he isn't shooting at people which in this Movie does a lot to get the audience on your side. Wait a minute! Did I say that he's making a Publicity Appearance at a Drive In Movie? Uh oh . . . I've got a bad feeling about this . . .
"Targets" was inspired by the Texas State University Bell Tower Sniper. Should I bother looking up that guy's name? Nah! Legend has it Mister Bell Tower turned out to have a tumor inside his head the size of an orange. Did they peel it and squeeze the juice out of it? Was it pulpy? Okay, it's a good thing I didn't finish Med School. Actually, I did - Want some sherbert? Another infamous sniper, Lee Harvey Os . . . LOOK HOW EXCITED ALL THE ASSHOLES GOT!! Ha ha, only teasing. I really couldn't give a shit. How about The Hillside Strangler? He was such a bad ass he could choke a hillside to death! Don't get mad yet, there's an even worse gag coming up in a coupla paragraphs.
"Targets" was the first Movie Directed by Peter Bogdanovich and maybe the Best. No, "The Last Picture Show" is Bogdanovich's Best just because it's the first Cybil Shepherd Movie and don't get me started on Cybil Shepherd! Hey, Buddy! Come over here and take this ink pen away from me before I spend the next week writing about four hundred pages about Cybil Shepherd and barking like a hound dog! Uh oh! Turns out that guy is Peter Bogdanovich and now that I've mentioned Cybil Shepherd he's tearing his hair out and throwing himself in front of trucks and buses. You'd be pretty messed up too if you had gotten dumped by Cybil Shepherd the way Peter Bogdanovich's sorry ass has gotten dumped by Cybil Shepherd. How about if Bogdanovich had made "Targets" with Cybil Shepherd instead of Boris Karloff? Yeah, instead of a sniper shooting up a Drive In Movie at which an old Horror Movie Star is making an appearance he can shoot up a Drive In Movie at which an insanely hot blonde piece of ass is making an appearence. What a great idea! Soon as I finish typing this up I'll travel into the Past to find Bogdanovich and Shepherd. Should I bother looking up the correct spellings of their names? Nah!
Bogdanovich was The King Of The Young Hollywood Movie Directors in the early Seventies, although with Movies as lame as "What's Up Doc?" and "At Long Last Love" he was eventually more well known as Cybil Shepherd's Douchey Boyfriend and the Media built up Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg just to put him in his place. Bogdanovich is a very intelligent, talented, and sophisticated man but, unfortunately for him, he is far more successful than John Saleeby so he can get eaten by rats for all I care. Every time I've ever see Bogdanovich he was wearing an ASCOT so lucky for him every time I've ever seen him was on TV so I couldn't give him a poke in the snoot. Who the Hell wears an ascot? I'm embarassed that I even know what an ascot is! Although I'm wearing an ascot right now, as a matter of fact - On my BALLS!!! HA HA HA!!! Well, you can't say I didn't warn you.
But who cares about Bogdanovich? The Big News about "Targets" is that it was Produced by ROGER CORMAN! I Swear before Almighty God! On The First Day Bogdanovich was Corman's Assistant Director on "The Wild Angels" during which Corman The Genius livened up a lackluster riot scene by picking up Bogdanovich's Four Eyed Name Dropping Ascot Wearing East Coast Intellectual Ass and pitching him headlong into a crowd full of Hell's Angels Bikers. Do they teach stuff like that to the kids at NYU Film School? I guess after that Corman figured he owed Bogdanovich so . . . No, actually Corman figured Boris Karloff owed him two days work from "The Terror" (In which Karloff co stars with Jack Nicholson. "The Terror" is so bad it wouldn't be worth it if Nicholson told Karloff to take the chicken salad off of a chicken salad sandwich and hold it between his knees) so he told Bogdanovich to make a Movie that wouldn't cost anything and get those two days out of Karloff. Bogdanovich came up with "Targets" which Karloff liked so much he worked a few days for FREE which put Corman The Cheapskate into such a state of Ecstasy he went out and bought a plastic bag full of tube socks. I heard that when Corman found out about getting the Academy Award this year he celebrated by getting a seventy cent bag of corn chips out of the office vending machine instead of the usual fifty five cent bag of corn chips. And he's still probably licking the inside of the bag right now. The inside of the bag of corn chips, I mean - Not the bag full of tube socks. He used the bag full of tube socks to make David Carridine's costume in "Death Race 2000" (He's stingy).
"Targets" is a prime example of why they gave Corman the Academy Award. If you were really cool you would have said "Aw, who gives a FUCK about the Academy Award!?" and wiped your ass with a "Crash" DVD as soon as you read that sentence. But, unfortunately, this World is full of people who think the Academy Awards are A BIG FUCKIN' DEAL and that's why one day I'll wind up on the side of the highway shooting at traffic with a high powered rifle. But where will American Cinema be one day without a Man of Corman's intelligence, talent, and sophistication to Produce our crappy low budget Trash?
Wait a minute . . . "Intelligence"? "Talent"? "Sophistication"? That sounds familiar. Say! Peter Bogdanovich may be washed up in Big Time Hollywood, but let's put him to work Producing Direct To DVD Zombie Movies, High School Sex Comedies, and whatever the hell all that Martial Arts mess is supposed to be. "Targets" is cheaper than mud, but like all of Corman's best work, it makes a point - In the film's climax Karloff overcomes his philosophical malaise through a head on confrontation with genuine flesh and blood horror. Or is it his existential confusion which enables him to take action against . . .
What is this around my throat? An ASCOT!?!
"A giant squid? We don't have enough time and money to shoot that!"
"Okay . . . We'll just show him lying on the ground and then . . . he gets eaten by rats!"
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - email@example.com