Tag Archives: Robert Williams

Turkey Shoot (1982, Brian Trenchard-Smith)

Turkey Shoot is a peculiarly charmless bit of trash. It’s a Most Dangerous Game story with multiple potential victims, prisoners of the state in a dystopian future. Their hunters consist of an evil lesbian (Carmen Duncan), a vicious fop (Michael Petrovitch) with a pet monster and a bureaucrat who’s so out of shape one has to wonder how they got him to walk so much in the film (Noel Ferrier). The main villain is Michael Craig. He’s not as bad as Duncan, Petrovitch or Ferrier. He’s far better than supporting villains Roger Ward and Gus Mercurio. But he’s still not a good villain. Craig doesn’t even have the enthusiasm to appear embarrassed.

There are a couple acceptable performances among the hunted, though not the leads. Bill Young and Lynda Stoner are both fine. There’s not much competition, of course, as leads Steve Railsback and Olivia Hussey are awful. Hussey’s far worse than Railsback, but he’s not any good either.

No one appears to be having any fun with Turkey. Given Trenchard-Smith’s direction is atrocious and inept at conveying the lousy script, it’d be hard for anyone to have any fun. Composer Brian May tries occasionally, but his energetic music–even when it’s not any good–doesn’t match Trenchard-Smith’s lame direction. He shoots almost every action shot in a long shot, the actors moving from right to left across the very wide frame. It’s exceptionally boring.

Actually, you know, John R. McLean’s photography is perfectly good. Sure, Bernard Hides’s production design is laughable, but Turkey Shoot has decent locations and McLean knows how to light them.

It’s not really a disappointment in any way because Turkey Shoot is never any good. Bad acting, bad writing, budget limitations aside, Trenchard-Smith just isn’t a competent director.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith; screenplay by Jon George and Neill D. Hicks, based on a story by George Schenck, Robert Williams and David Lawrence; director of photography, John R. McLean; edited by Alan Lake; music by Brian May; production designer, Bernard Hides; produced by William Fayman and Antony I. Ginnane; released by Roadshow.

Starring Steve Railsback (Paul Anders), Olivia Hussey (Chris Walters), Michael Craig (Charles Thatcher), Carmen Duncan (Jennifer), Noel Ferrier (Secretary Mallory), Lynda Stoner (Rita Daniels), Roger Ward (Chief Guard Ritter), Michael Petrovitch (Tito), Gus Mercurio (Red), John Ley (Dodge), Bill Young (Griff) and Steve Rackman (Alph).


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The Bat (1959, Crane Wilbur)

There ought to be something good about The Bat, but there really isn’t anything. Agnes Moorehead is actually quite good, all things considered, and Vincent Price seems game too. Moorehead’s a successful mystery novelist vacationing in a scary old house–summering, actually–and Price is a murderous physician. Why is Price murderous? So the audience can suspect his every action in the film.

After a protracted first act, The Bat gets underway with terrifying Moorehead. Only Moorehead doesn’t terrify, she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. It ought to be a cool turn of events, but director Wilbur’s screenplay is as abysmal as his direction (The Bat’s a thriller without any thrills whatsoever) and he doesn’t give Moorehead anything to work with. He doesn’t give anyone anything to work with, but Moorehead is visibly capable of improving a thin part. She just doesn’t get the chance.

The dialogue’s usually expository (Moorehead’s got such a bad part, her sojourn to the country never gets a good enough description). Sometimes it’s so expository Wilbur has to backtrack to explain how the characters could possibly know something, given it’s against all their previous development.

Like I said, Price’s game but he has nothing to do. Gavin Gordon’s bad as the investigating detective and Lenita Lane’s awful as Moorehead’s sidekick. Elaine Edwards isn’t bad.

William Austin’s editing is weak, though with Wilbur’s dreadful composition it’d be hard to cut together a good scene out of any of it. I suppose Joseph F. Biroc doesn’t do too bad with the cinematography. It’s competent, anyway, though not scary.

The fault lies with Wilbur. His script’s bad, his direction’s bad. Between Moorehead, Price and an old dark, house, there’s no reason The Bat shouldn’t have been at least amusing.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Crane Wilbur; screenplay by Wilbur, based on a play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood; director of photography, Joseph F. Biroc; edited by William Austin; music by Louis Forbes; produced by C.J. Tevlin; released by Allied Artists Pictures.

Starring Agnes Moorehead (Cornelia van Gorder), Lenita Lane (Lizzie Allen), Elaine Edwards (Dale Bailey), Darla Hood (Judy Hollander), Gavin Gordon (Lt. Andy Anderson), John Sutton (Warner), John Bryant (Mark Fleming), Harvey Stephens (John Fleming), Mike Steele (Victor Bailey), Riza Royce (Jane Patterson), Robert Williams (Detective Davenport) and Vincent Price (Dr. Malcolm Wells).


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