by Anthony King
Last week I leaned all the way into this never-ending pandemic with The Plague Dogs. This week I'm going a little lighter with a movie about citizens being swooped up en masse and sent to “re-education” camps to correct their errant ways in order to be transformed into thoughtless government robots. See? Lighter.
Trenchard-Smith is known for his over-the-top, dystopian, stunt-filled movies and his beliefs in fighting the system and not bowing down to corporate bullies. Movies like The Running Man, Surviving the Game, and more recently The Hunger Games all carry similar messages in that the little people (me and presumably you) are just pawns in some sort of evil game being conducted by someone with more money and more power. That Trenchard-Smith opted to use voiceovers for most scenes in Turkey Shoot (mostly for technical purposes, I suppose) only adds to the surreal quality of this dystopian, but very plausible, future where our personal voices are stolen from us and replaced by thoughts and language dictated by something or someone more powerful than us. When Thatcher comes out to introduce himself to his new prisoners, he's dressed in a tunic resembling a priest's cassock and collar. Ever since the beginning of time, people have been trying to force upon everyone else their spiritual beliefs. Constitutional amendments haven't stopped others in a higher seat of power from attempting this. In Turkey Shoot, this is a governing entity's attempt at “castrating” free will from all human beings. We see this quite literally play out in the film where a prisoner is chained to two spherical jugs filled with gasoline. The guards are pushing the prisoner down, kicking the balls (testicles) around, spilling the fuel all around, until finally they light the man on fire.
The stunts, gore, and special make-up effects quickly turn things from dark to comedy. Several times I found myself laughing out loud at the outrageous blood and guts shown throughout the hunt. Heads explode, heads are chopped off, bodies are cut in half, hands are sliced off with machetes. After capturing a female prisoner, the sadistic lesbian says in a great Mary Woronov impression, “I'm going to make you feel like you've never felt before,” while licking her lips. Thatcher is driving a miniature version of the urban assault vehicle from Stripes while the Nazi and werewolf are driving a tiny quarry bulldozer. We are spared from our depressive thoughts for an hour.