Brian May – Turkey Shoot OST (Dual Planet)


Turkey Shoot is an infamous 1982 Australian shocker from Brian Trenchard Smith, a frequent cinematic agitator who emerged in the Ozploitation scene in the late 70’s, delivering amazing action films like The Man From Hong Kong, and hideous turkeys like Stunt Rock. To be fair to Trenchard Smith, who regularly created magic on miniscule budgets, lost almost a third of his budget ($700,000) for Turkey Shoot weeks before filming, leaving gaping holes in, well, pretty much everything. Yet he soldiered on and delivered a nasty and inexplicably hilarious sadistic concentration camp tale that is equal part Running Man and Hogan’s Heroes.

It’s a totally mindless piece of futuristic schlock that delights in its appalling carnage and camp sensibilities. Apparently it was an attempt to further genre films in Australia, channeling the Women in Prison films of Jack Hill and the schlock tendencies of Italian goremiester Lucio Fulci. There’s circus freaks munching on human toes, severed hands and feet, rape, murder, and torture all filmed with a sadistic relish and an eye for black comedy.

Trenchard Smith has gone on record admitting that this score is not his favourite, though this is possibly more about regret for what might have been, because composer Brian May, best known for his larger orchestral scores was a casualty of the budget cuts and forced to resort to a predominantly synth based score.

May (1934-1997) produced more than 30 feature film scores between 1975 and 1994, and whilst his best known works like Mad Max or Gallipoli, are orchestrally based, his filmography includes some really great exploitation flicks like Richard Franklin’s Patrick and Roadgames, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and a great electronic orchestral amalgamation in the little known Aussie horror Bloodmoon.

Presenting cues as short as 12 seconds, as well as longer more developed musical pieces, this is the first time the Turkey Shoot score has ever been released. Whilst it’s something of a black sheep in May’s oeuvre, you can hear elements of many of the Bernard Hermanesque obsessions that categorise his other work, yet it’s fascinating to hear their context altered to incorporate synth.

It’s still quasi-orchestral; some pieces actually feel wholly orchestral with big brass horns, flutes and live percussion, usually complete with over the top dramatic timpani’s. Here May enlisted help from members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra or his own ABC showband on the sly, and the pieces are as equally dramatic and complex as any of his work on Mad Max.

But the real gold here is May’s synth work, either solo, or combined with live percussion. In the main its atmospheric mood setting music, unnerving multi genre synthetic cues, where May isn’t afraid to get atonal, dissonant or strange. Occasionally the pieces really develop, evolving beyond the synthetic wiggles and experiments, inadvertently borrowing from the pop realm, and developing into these slightly hysterical Nitendo meltdowns and unnerving Carpenteresque grooves. It’s when the synth and the percussion work together in particular that May’s music is particularly successful. The live percussion and cymbals offering an urgency, a feeling of momentum to the range of the synth.

It’s a strange thing to say, but the loss of the budget is actually the best thing that happened to this score, the synth tapping into the futuristic premise of the film, and its amalgamation with the orchestral elements painting it as one of the most unique and forward thinking film soundtracks of not only May’s career, but also the 80’s as a whole.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.