And speaking of convenient segues, does anyone remember director Peter Bogdanovich's auspicious celluloid debut? It was a low budget 1968 film called "Targets," starring none other than Boris Karloff as Byron Orlok, a veteran horror film actor. Orlok has retired from acting because real life has become so terrifying that audiences are no longer frightened by the type of horror movies that made him famous. In the film's riveting climax, a sniper named Bobby chooses as his targets the patrons of a drive-in theater showing the real life Karloff in "The Terror."
"Bogdanovich attempts to show us just how lethal weapons are," writes film critic Danny Peary in his book, "Cult Movies." "He forces us to look through the gun sights with Bobby and help him line up his victim. It is frustrating-we want Bobby to miss but each time we see his aim is true. It is bad enough when unidentified people fall dead, but often Bogdanovich will have Bobby take aim at someone and pull the trigger only to find himself out of bullets. While he reloads we have time to get to know and suffer with the intended prey."
After picking off the projectionist, Bobby climbs down from his sniper perch only to be confronted by the aforementioned Byron Orlok (Karloff). Although Orlok is unarmed, Bobby is perplexed by the image of the real Boris Karloff who seems to be also walking towards him on the immense drive-in movie screen. The confused Bobby, no longer able to recognize the real threat, shoots at the screen-the "fake" Orlok-and is promptly disarmed the "real" Orlok before being arrested.
Unfortunately, discerning "the real real thing" from imagined evils is not just the stuff of ambitious directorial debuts.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.