Vietnam veteran Bobby Thompson (Tim O’Kelly) has a gun fixation. Ageing film star Byron Orlok (Boris Karloff) is planning to retire. Their paths are destined to meet at a drive-in cinema, in a most horrific manner.
This stunning crime drama – the feature debut of film critic-turned-writer/director Peter Bogdanovich – is graced by a marvellous valedictory performance from Karloff as an ageing horror star who finds himself in the gun sights of that scourge of contemporary America, a random sniper, here chillingly portrayed by Tim O’Kelly.
Based on the real-life killing spree of Charles Whitman in 1966, this is genuinely disturbing and immaculately crafted, with themes that are still relevant today.
With Karloff originally only available for two days’ shooting, would-be production schedulers might care to observe how cleverly Bogdanovich builds around his star.
The cinematography, by debuting émigré Laszlo Kovacs, is superb: he would follow this with Easy Rider (1969) and other movies for Bogdanovich before graduating to the films of Steven Spielberg – Close Encounters (1977) – and Martin Scorsese – New York New York (1977) – in the 1970s.