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Wednesday May 22nd 2024

Targets | 1967

Targets location: Van Nuys, San Fernando Valley
Targets location: the sniper’s perch: Van Nuys, San Fernando Valley

Conflicting rumours arose while this film was in production. Targets was about an old-style horror movie star on the brink of retirement, went one version. Targets was a modern urban thriller about a lone sniper picking off random victim, went the others. In fact, they were both correct.

Another directorial career is launched by Roger Corman, as Peter Bogdanovich (who went on to Oscar glory with The Last Picture Show) rises to the challenge of assembling a film from two days work owed to the producer by veteran Boris Karloff, and 20 minutes of footage from The Terror, one of Corman’s own Poe-inspired pictures (starring a very young Jack Nicholson).

The inventive script contrasts the old-style Gothic, embodied by actor Byron Orlok (Karloff, virtually playing himself), with the banality of modern horrors. The parallel story was inspired by sniper Charles Whitman, who casually picked off his victims from the the tower of Austin University in August 1966, but the film doesn’t stray far from Los Angeles.

Targets location: Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood
Targets location: Sammy Michaels’ film production office: 8600 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood


The ‘Brass Rail’ gunshop, where all-American boy Bobby Thompson (Tim O’Kelly) buys weapons, stood on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. It’s now gone, but still standing opposite, virtually unchanged, is the ‘film production office’, where director Sammy Michaels (Bogdanovich himself) persuades Orlok to stick with his movie, at 8600 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood.

Also still with us are the gastanks overlooking the I-405, San Diego Freeway at Oxnard Street, Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley, from the top of which Bobby casually takes out passing motorists.

Bogdanovich‘s ingenious climax brings the two worlds together as Thompson takes pot-shots at a cinema audience from behind the screen of a drive-in showing a ‘Byron Orlok’ movie (The Terror – what else?). The outdoor picture house was the Reseda Drive-in Theater on Reseda Boulevard at Vanowen Street, Reseda. It closed in 1985 and has since been demolished.