Turkey Shoot is a remake of the infamous 1982 Ozploitation movie of the same name and is directed by Jon Hewitt (X) and produced by Tony Ginnane, who also produced the 1982 version.

Set in a nightmarish future, in maximum security prison, where ex-Navy SEAL Rich Tyler (Dominic Purcell, Prison Break) is offered along with other convicted criminals to take part in a popular TV show: Turkey Shoot. The rules are simple: kill before you get killed. If they survive until the end of the game, they will regain their freedom.

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This turkey's D.O.A.

The 1982 Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000, aka Blood Camp Thatcher) was a paranoid vision of a right-wing concentration camp merged with Richard Connell’s frequently plagiarised 1924 short story The Most Dangerous Game. The film may have been considered original, if Peter Watkins hadn’t already made Punishment Park in 1971. As a result, Turkey Shoot was basically a cheap knock-off with a few tacky dismemberments and some gratuitous nudity thrown in to prevent anyone from taking it seriously.

Variations on the formula keep popping up everywhere from The Simpsons to… you guessed it… a remake of Turkey Shoot. In this latest incarnation, the film puts the protagonist as the reluctant star of a reality TV show and mimics the structure of a computer game (with a nod to Hollywood’s classic three act structure). Has this idea already been done a million times or is it just that reality TV is so close to parody that the idea just seems boringly familiar? (oh yeah, Punishment Park was done as a mockumentary too.)

I’d hoped that the talented team of writer/director Jon Hewitt (X, Darklovestory, Acolytes) and actor/scriptwriter/spouse Belinda McCory (X, Darklovestory, Acolytes) would bring something new to the mix. There’s a couple of nifty pieces of dialogue (“I’m fucking this puppy, he’s just lifting its tail”); a few pleasing camera moves, but does this reboot offer anything new or worthwhile in terms of script and plot? No such luck.

The film certainly opens with a bang. In an eye-widening early sequence, the film presents a Libyan dictator who is undressed by a nubile, bikinied handmaiden (creating the forlorn hope that more nudity will ensue) and then the dictator has his head blown apart like a watermelon. The film doesn’t explain how exactly, but of the film’s opening minutes show enough to conclude that former Navy SEAL Rick Tyler (played by Dominic Purcell), is responsible.

Post opening credits, and three years later, Tyler has been framed as the perpetrator of a massacre of women and children, and for reasons that are supposed to be mysterious, he is shunted from prison to TV stardom as Turkey no 117 in a reality show called, Turkey Shoot which releases criminals so they can be picked off by WWF styled assassins. But quelle surprise, Tyler is too smart for his adversaries. The TV show is in three eps and so the film offers us the insufferable hosts’ banter multiple times and the slogan IT’S LIVE… WITH DEATH blared out on least five occasions (it’s barely funny the first time; by the last it was beyond tedious). There is one minor twist, which makes some sense of the film’s confusing beginning, but suspenseful this is not. The action sequences are poorly rendered and its satirical edge is blunted by its borrowings from sharper films such as Rollerball and Starship Troopers.

The recycling doesn’t stop there. This version is peppered with references to its predecessor, including a clip of Turkey Shoot mach 1 on TV, and a woman being shot in the breast with an arrow as a wink to Phillip Adams who lambasted the original by saying “the sight of Lynda Stoner being speared through the right nork by a rampant lesbian was too much to take” (NB In the 1982 film, Stoner’s covered left breast was merely teased by an arrowhead. Later her corpse is found with an arrow in the mouth and through the neck, not the breast). No men getting shot in the testicles in this version though… and a lot less amputations. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

Purcell who is capable of better (eg Bad Karma) sleepwalks as a monosyllabic posterboy for the tattoos and steroid generation. The fabulously named, Viva Bianca (daughter of composer Cezary Skubiszewski) acquits herself well as the fellow naval officer who helps out Tyler.

Remaking a film directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith seems like an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Until you realise that the same producer who gave us the original - Antony I. Ginnane - is also responsible for serving up this re-conditioned version. Ginnane’s not trying to make a silk purse, he’s just trying to sell another sow’s ear. Filmed mostly in stairwells and empty office spaces this is done on the ultra cheap. Ginnane even recycles the news archive protest footage from the opening of the first film for the opening of the second. Clearly, the world doesn’t change and neither does Tony Ginnane. I wonder whether audiences have wised up?

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1 hour 30 min

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