A very hands-on circus organizer and owner starts losing employees to strange deaths. Initially, it appears like the deaths are accidents, but it quickly becomes apparent they are murders. A detective begins an investigation but it doesn't stop the deaths. All the circus employees believe it is the owner, but the owner swears her innocence. Can the owner prove her innocence by uncovering the killer?
"I don't like being touched, especially by strangers."
Jim O'Connolly, director of Horror on Snape Island, The Valley of Gwangi, Sophie's Place, Mistress Pamela, Vendetta for the Saint, and The Little Ones, delivers Berserk. The storyline for this picture is interesting and fun to watch unfold. The kill scenes were better than I anticipated, as was the acting. The cast includes Joan Crawford, Ty Hardin, Diana Dors, Michael Gough, and Judy Geeson.
"You get all worked up and you spoil everything."
I came across this on Movies! and had to DVR it. I enjoy watching Crawford and she played the perfect ruthless circus owner in this film. This film is far from a classic, but it is worthwhile for fans of the old school horror films. I recommend seeing this if you're a fan of horror films from this era.
"Kill! Kill! Kill! That's all I feel inside me!"
I get the impression that Crawford's part was written for someone a little younger or at least someone with less frightening eyebrows. Still, I have to credit J.C. for her serious approach to the character. A very good effort in a very bad film.
Joan isn't terrible in it, but she's not exactly good either. And she's not in it enough. I estimate about 1/4 of this film is pure filler- minutes go by and one is simply watching circus acts in their entirety, adding nothing to the rather Christie-esque whodunnit which is supposed to be the main plot. Red herrings are thrown in, some more effective than others, but rather than going "Ohhhhh!" like you would in a Poirot or Miss Marple story when the killer is revealed you go "Huhhh?" and then the film goes even further and further still when it just ends.
Supporting players are almost as campy as Crawford, but also don't get to ham it up enough apart from Diana Dors who really goes for it to her credit. Ty Hardin looks good, if a bit long in the tooth to be the leading man. All you can conclude is it's just too uneven to be called "so bad it's good", unlike the similarly plotted "Straight Jacket" of a few years earlier. In the end, you get just about enough laughs out of it to make it worth seeing, but the filler doesn't do a good enough job of hiding the fact that the script is light on ideas and the plot hangs together less convincingly than your average soap opera.
The frustrating thing is, with some editing of the circus bits so that they just add to the atmosphere rather than dominate it, a bit more of Joan and a bit more of the supporting players it could have at least achieved campy entertainment. The sloppy execution is what fails this film and makes it unsatisfying.
Not to be enjoyed sober.
MYSTERY/ THRILLER/ SOCIAL COMMENTARY
Joan Crawford stars as owner of a circus and people being mysteriously knocked or killed off, despite the performers themselves checking their own equipment making viewers think that it would be the perfect motivation to draw people to come to see the circus, was to witness an actual death to occur!
As a result of the ending makes the film even less sense! This film can also be an excuse to showcase actual circus performers act which is not the same as seeing it live!
2 out of 4
it's story about a businesswoman who owns a circus, and all of a sudden, the members of her crew are murdered drastically one by one during the public exhibitions. she dates a man who seems young enough to be her son while her daughter returns for being dispelled by the boarding school. (crawford's movies in this period tend to have a certain parallel to her real-life relationship with her daughter)..at last, the truth is revelt and not hard to guess at all: it is her daughter who murders those people due to her grudges against mom and she has to destroy the circus to ease off the envious hatred. sorta like "straight-jacker," which has a slightly better sense of suspense despite its blatant cheesiness, but the scriptor of "straight-jacket" is the same one from "psycho."
recently i'm reading a cultural-study book about the symbolic matricide within the temperament of american ethnology as well as american pop culture, the idea of personal property and the highly emphasized individuality (clint eastwood says in the amc channel commercial "i have a reverence for individuality") so each person has to leave his/her parents, particularly mother, as long as the puberty passes. "seperation and individuation" are the key terms for such symptom, and mother figure's inclined to get portrayed in a negative light of effeminatibng or victimizing the offsprings, contrary to the oriental system of family adherence. i assume such dread for the overpower of phallic mothers has created a food line for aged hollywood icons as well as a misogynist mythology of all those joan-loathing craps within american subcultures. everything about berserk is predictably corny to invite sneering laughters, but it's exactly the charm of it, isn't it? if you expect to be shocked or get good-quality actings and decently stylish camera angle just by watching the trailer, then i must say: you were just hatched yesterday. come on, it's a camp, it's supposed to be terrificly and shamelessly BAD with a reckless smug. stop bitching about it and giving it a poor rating. (lol.)
but i've got to pay compliment to miss joan's wardrobe, which is actually not awful (the green suit with layers of jade-color pearls is my fav, so outrageously flashy), it bares her still-quite-in-shape legs very well, and i bet that a 60-something joan still has much better legs than lots of young girls in my age. hehe. don't you just love such killer queen? huh?