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Cigarette Burns: Turkey Shoot And The Pleasure Of Killing
Josh Saco , August 3rd, 2009 06:03

Josh Saco explains the reasoning behind his choice of cult film for tonight's Cigarette Burns in London

"I like killing people because it is so much fun it is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangeroue anamal of all" [sic]

So said the Zodiac Killer, a man with undeniable credentials, so we have to assume he knows what he is talking about.

Where did he get his ideas? He was one in a very long line of people influenced by Richard Connell's short story, The Most Dangerous Game. Hunting man for sport isn't original idea, no doubt it had been done thousands of times before dear old Richie put his pen to paper in 1924. Then utilising the sets, actors and crew for that little known gem King Kong, in 1932, The Most Dangerous Game, starring Fay Wray, was made into a cinematic thriller for the first time.

Since it has been re-appropriated countless times by countless studios and actors before, and after it influenced one of the greatest criminal enigmas of the 20th century.

However, I would argue that none of these attempts at retelling the story of Count Zaroff and his hunt are nearly as entertaining or ruthless as the Australian Exploitation classic, Turkey Shoot. Released in the UK as the brilliantly titled Blood Camp Thatcher, it follows the conniving Charles Thatcher, Commandant of a re-education camp, who promises his charges freedom if they can survive him and his sadistic, bloodthirsty friends attempts to hunt them down and kill them.

Each of the four hunters are armed with a weapon of their choice; most choices are typical enough, guns or cross bows with exploding arrows. Those are fun, but it's no until the Ming the Merciless lookalike unveils his weapon of choice that the film hits an all new high of undeniable genius: a steamroller driven by a werewolf.


A lot has been made of this choice, and with good reason I think. You are never likely to see something as abstract and absurd in anything other than an exploitation flick. This is the sort of thing that only pops into your head after a very long, heavy night imbibing mind-altering substances. Alternately, it could also happen when you know you're making a totally ridiculous movie and figure, "Why the hell not?"

With weapons in hand, our villains proceed to do everything they can to kill our heroes, with varied success, lots of blood, severed limbs and ultimately a very very high body count.

"Where did such a film come from?" you might ask. Turkey Shoot was part of a torrent of exploitation films to pour out of Australia during the 70s and 80s. The floodgates opened when, in an effort to boost the country's reputation on the worldwide cinema scene, the government created financial incentives for businesses and wealthy people to fund the film industry. It got to a point where it didn't matter what you were funding, you were making money either way. Simultaneously, the censorship system was overhauled, allowing an R rating which in turn allowed nudity and violence to be shown in ways they hadn't before.

Just before filming on Turkey Shoot began, the budget was cut to ribbons, causing the entire introduction of the film to be dropped. The effect is that you have no idea why or where or how or who or what any of the action actually is. But none of that matters, as it is such a fun, entertaining film that as soon as you start to question these things you are distracted and reminded that your job as viewer is merely to sit down, shut up and watch . . . or else.

The classic Turkey Shoot will be the main feature for Monday's event at the Mucky Pup pub in London, N1. Head along for a feast of exploitation cinema with beatings.

The event kicks off at 7.30pm but be warned, seats are limited.

For more information head to the Cigarette Burns blog here.