Starring Aussie tough guy actor Dominic Purcell Turkey Shoot is an updating and reworking of the notoriously violent 1982 Ozploitation flick of the same name. Director Jon Hewitt tells us the story behind the movie.
Jon Hewitt has made six feature films since he made his debut co-directing 1992’s Bloodlust with MUFF founder Richard Wolstencroft, but his latest, Turkey Shoot, harkens back to the golden age of Ozploitation: a time when lucrative tax breaks saw a tsunami of cheap, sex and violence-filled movies of widely varying quality come out of our production houses.
“I saw it when it was first in cinemas in Australia in – I think it was ‘82 or ‘83? – in Melbourne.” Hewitt recalls of the original film, directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. “I just thought it was… in those days it played as a really schlocky, confrontational exploitation film that was completely over the top. It had a political message to tell in an interesting way – this was before The Running Man and movies like that started to come out. It seemed very fresh and original, especially for an Australian film, and really cool. I mean, you watch it now and you go, ‘Holy shit! It’s so tacky and over-performed!’ which is why you love it, but I can’t remember feeling that way when I first saw it. It was confronting and different.”
In Hewitt’s reimagining, Dominic Purcell plays Rick Tyler, an elite soldier who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and forced to participate in a violent reality television show – if he survives, he wins his freedom. The new version comes to largely courtesy of Antony Ginnane, a veteran figure in the Australian film industry, who also produced the original. “He recently returned to Australia and been thinking about remaking or doing something with his back catalogue. He did Patrick with Mark Hartley a few years ago, and the theory is that he’s in a position now to get some movies made based on some of his old work – there’s some desirability, internationally, to put some money up for this film or that film, because there’s a lot of recognition in the world market for those titles.
“And we decided on Turkey Shoot. It was one of my favourite films of his, and I thought it was a film that could do with a bit of an intervention or a bit of a remake – the themes were essentially very contemporary. Obviously the whole Hunger Games franchise thing was about to start when we started thinking about doing it, and that also Tony a bit of an in to the international marketplace. We’ve probably piggybacked on that huge Hollywood franchise’s massive success, a little, in getting the film made.”
Turkey Shoot is out on DVD and Blu Ray now.