The Film (4/5)
When people think of Ozploitation cinema people tend to think of Mad Max, maybe Patrick. However, in my view the first name to pop into my head is Brian Trenchard-Smith, who may not have only made the most fun and diverse films of all the Ozploitation filmmakers, but some of the best and most exciting genre films of the period anywhere in the world. Trenchard-Smith is most well known now for his TV work and some of the Leprechaun sequels, but at the start of his career he struck exploitation gold with films such as Stunt Rock and The Man from Hong Kong, but his most popular film from the era might be his Most Dangerous Game riff Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000).
The film follows 3 new arrivals at the notorious Camp 47 lead by the sadistic Thatcher (wonder who that could be in reference to), and his chief guard. The new prisoners are Chris Walters played by Olivis Hussey (Romeo and Juliet, Black Christmas), Paul Anders (Steve Railsback, Ed Gein), and Rita (Lynda Stoner). As the story opens the prisoners begin to suffer great torture at the hands of their captors, but are given a way out. They are offered a chance to participate in a "turkey shoot" as the victims. If they can survive being hunted from dawn until dusk they will receive their freedom, of course the hunters have no desire to see their prey freed, and go to extremes to make sure the prisoners meet violent ends. Aside from the 3 mentioned here, there are others set out into the wilderness as well. As the hunt goes on the circumstances become more extreme, and the hunted become the hunters and the turkey shoot becomes a revolution where the prisoners turn the tables on their captors.
Performances from the cast are solid, and fit the material quite well, but when you have actors like Steve Railsback and Olivia Hussey amongst your ranks that is to be expected. The score by composer Brian May offers a solid contrast from the occasionally serious material in the earlier half, and goes a long way in adding some extra excitement during the films bombastic conclusion.
Turkey Shoot is a film known to most genre fans for it's over the top violence, which is certainly there for those that are fans of that. However, it also works as a great political satire, and a damn good action film in general. The film effectively blends prison films and jungle based action to create something that is truly fun, and never dull. Early on Trenchard-Smith creates some truly cringe worthy sequences that will certainly satisfy gorehounds, while also going a long way to establish a connection with our heroes. The middle section of the film offers a great deal of suspense, as we watch the prisoners individually try to survive the hunt, before Trenchard-Smith allows the film to end with an explosion of schizophrenic action.
Severin Films does a wonderful job bringing Brian Trenchard-Smith's Turkey Shoot to HD life. The Blu-ray has a wonderfully detailed, very natural transfer with excellent detail, light but natural grain, and and bright wonderful colors that show off the films outdoor vistas quite well.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English. The dialogue comes through nice and clear as does the films score. I did not detect any issues during my viewing.
The Severin Blu-ray kicks off with an informative, and slightly humorous commentary with director Brian Trenchard-Smith. There are 75 minutes of extended interviews from the Not Quite Hollywood Ozploitation documentary, a 26 minute featurette called the Ozploitation Renaissance, there is also a 24 minute making of, a trailer, and an alternate opening.
Turkey Shoot is a violent and fun riff on the Most Dangerous Game that comes highly recommended simply as a film. However, The Blu-ray from Severin Films is visually stunning, and is quite a fine restoration, and needs to be seen by fans of the genre. The disc is loaded with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.