Turkey Shoot is an ode to the infamous 1982 grindhouse film of the same name, alternatively released as Escape 2000 and Blood Camp Thatcher in other territories. Be prepared though, this is a very different story from the original. Director Jon Hewitt describes the new Turkey Shoot as a complete reinvention. "It's a radically different story but it feels like the original... that sort of craziness and hopefully shockingness, the ability to make you sit back and say bloody hell, did I just see that?"
In a now familiar plot line, Rick Tyler (Dominic Purcell, Prison Break), a disgraced ex-Navy SEAL is offered a chance at redemption by participating in a violent reality TV show. The catch? 'It's live.. with death!' In the same spirit as other 'humans as prey' thrillers such as Hunger Games, Rick is Contestant #117 - the next turkey in line to battle his way through three 'levels' of the life-or-death game - much to the adulation of the live studio audience.
Beneath the action flick exterior you'll notice a not-so-subtle commentary on what's wrong with government and the media; the ominous political overtones, the saturation of glorified violence and the hidden agenda of the military. While this is nothing particularly new in cinema, nor eloquently executed in the film, the message still poses some pertinent questions about the future of society.
Lead actor Dominic Purcell is supported by home-grown actors Viva Bianca (as Commander Jill Wilson) and Belinda McClory (as TV Executive Meredith Baxter) who breathe life and strength into the film's main female characters. However, it would have been nice to see the tough Commander Wilson maintain her momentum rather than being relegated to the role of white female love interest to the main character. There's also not much to be said for Tyler's opponents during the game, who are grossly stereotyped and eliminated with ease.
Keep your eyes open Turkey Shoot fans - there are surprise cameo appearances from the original film's actors, Roger Ward and Carmen Duncan.
Carmen Duncan as Jennifer (left) and Sheila Farr (right)
Stock and existing footage was used amongst their authentic work, allowing grand scenes such as Navy Seals rappelling out of helicopters, Blackhawks zooming through the sky, and intense car chases down freeways to be incorporated. According to Hewitt, accessing these "worked within the idea of portraying a game where people were being observed all the time by cameras". Unfortunately, for us the use of this shortcut felt out of place compared to the rest of the film. Likewise, the use of varied FPS style 'scope-cam' perspectives looked budget and lackluster. Don't even get us started on the iPhone metal detector...
Of course! The old 'my phone is a metal detector' trick - gets them every time!
Turkey Shoot could have been an awesome successor to the original. The premise had potential, but fell short of its lofty goals trying to be too many things; too serious to be an Ozploitation film, too little blood for true B-grade standard, too much reliance on stock footage and too many badly stitched fight scenes.
We give Turkey Shoot 2.5/5 Wanders for anyone that has not seen the original or is couch-bound and has no better video games to play.
Where 1 Wander isn't worth getting off the couch for and 5 Wanders should leave a trail of dust in your wake: it's that good.
Turkey Shoot will be released in cinemas around Australia from December 4, 2014.