Peter Bogdanovich was supposedly given the opportunity to make this film on the basis that he include Boris Karloff in it since he was still under contract with the studio. Bogdanovich developed a script that followed two main characters. The first and most advertised is Byron Orlok, played by Karloff, who is retiring from the motion picture business and has just completed his final horror film. Byron appears tired and seems to want nothing more than to escape the business of the movie business and finally have some time to himself.
The other character, Bobby Thompson, is played by Tim O' Kelly. This character is a seemingly nice man who dresses well and has a loving family. However, he also has a love for guns and we get a glimpse of his massive gun collection in the trunk of his car early on. He acts very polite, but shows a disturbing lack of emotion that tells us something is not right with this man. Eventually, he goes on a killing spree, shooting his family and a lot of civilians.
This film takes place in 1968 and most of the sets take place in Bobby's hometown. We don't know the name of the place, but it seems pretty big and has a drive-in movie theater that becomes the scene of the climax. Not a lot of art direction went into this film since it was designed to take place in a realistic city and not a fantasy world or future time.
The acting in this film is pretty impressive. Karloff did a good job in his role as the tired actor, but overall I am not a huge fan of Karloff's acting. Tim O' Kelly is the real stand out actor here and pulls off his role with a chilling coldness. Seeing him shoot down civilian after civilian is disturbing and will leave a lasting impact on you. We never find out what compels him to commit these acts, making it even more mysterious.
Bogdanovich pulls off some great camerawork, particularly during the shooting scenes. We are allowed to see what the shooter is seeing by looking through his scope and rifle sights. There are also some great chase sequences that add to the excitement.
Overall, I think this film is pretty underrated and hasn't received the audience it deserves. Most of the people I have talked to haven't seen it and it is pretty rarely found in video stores. Although the film has a great plot, it is a bit dull at times, particularly during the Karloff scenes, thus I can only award it 3 stars. If you get the chance to find this film, it is worth a watch.