sydney’s review published on Letterboxd:
TARGETS is gigantic. Triple feature this with BLOW OUT and THE PARALLAX VIEW and you've got a perfectly disgusting portrait of cynical America, so why does nobody talk about this movie? I only heard of it recently, and maybe it's been a cult favorite in small groups of film lovers for years, but why doesn't anyone start shouting about it every time something like this happens in real life? Someone goes nuts and starts shooting people, and video games or television or heavy metal or lack of God or the pressure of our high-tech world are blamed. People have been going nuts since the dawn of time, and maybe we just don't want to admit the Good Ol' Days weren't so goddamn good after all.
TARGETS is all about disconnect, the inability to relate to what is around you. On one hand we have an old movie star who feels lost in a world of younger people who aren't scared by his films anymore, on the other a perfectly ordinary kid who breaks and turns into a mass murderer. It's fascinating to me that there's absolutely nothing wrong with this kid's life, though he lives with his parents and seems to crave acceptance from his father, so the message is probably that he feels he can't live up to what the world expects of him. Karloff though, he knows he's done for. He wants to retire but a young filmmaker wants him to be in his movie - incredible because it's an ADAPTATION-esque move, Bogdanovich playing the young director pitching the script to Karloff, which might as well be the script for TARGETS. I know it doesn't take a genius to figure this angle out, but it's still goddamn brilliant.
Karloff is the heart of this film, and without him the humorous moments would seem out of place rather than endearing. His tiny "that's what I was afraid of?" is earth-shattering. If I hadn't already been sitting down, I would have fallen over. The rest of the cast is great, but they're shadows in comparison and knowing that Karloff got the chance to do this in his later life adds layers upon layers of admiration.
Otherwise it's beautifully shot, a 50's movie with the eye of the grimy late 60's. and I've said it a hundred times - if you want to freak people out, shoot from the POV of the villain and they'll subconsciously feel responsible. We don't want to get inside this guy's head but we'll be forced to, we can't look away or regard the situation with a superior disconnected disgust.
I don't know what else to say, you guys. This is essential.