Berserk

1967, Movie, NR, 98 mins

Review

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Another in the string of bizarre horror films that pockmarked the end of Joan Crawford's career (STRAIT-JACKET, 1964; TROG, 1970), this one features her as the icy and ambitious owner of a traveling circus who finds that all her star attractions are getting bumped off one by one. See a spike driven through Michael Gough's skull! See Diana Dors literally sawed in half! See Ty Hardin fall off his tightrope onto a bed of knives! Guess whose psychopathic 16-year-old daughter is responsible for the crimes! Producer Herman Cohen had a penchant for horror films in which the cast is killed off in a variety of creative ways (HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, 1959), and does not disappoint in this garishly color-photographed effort. While not particularly gory, the film is a camp delight as Crawford chews the scenery like a mad dog. The then 63-year-old actress is truly a kitsch vision here, with her hair put up in a vise-like bun and her body outfitted in ringmaster's garb that consists of a black leotard, scarlet tailcoat, and top hat. Padded out with a lot of circus performance footage, BERSERK may prove slow going for modern-day horror enthusiasts, but, for fans of STRAIT-JACKET and TROG, this one is essential. leave a comment

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