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(aka "Circus of Blood" aka "Circus of Terror")

Directed by Jim O'Connolly
USA 1967

 

After the huge success of Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Hollywood legend Joan Crawford found herself taking the lead in a series of lurid and sensational horror pictures in her later years and Berserk was one of the best and most successful.

Crawford stars as a ruthless circus owner who exploits a series of gruesome murders for her own ends... until the killer targets her.

Directed by Jim O'Connolly (Valley of Gwangi, Tower of Evil) and co-starring Diana Dors (Yield to the Night, The Long Haul), Michael Gough (Horror Hospital, Batman Returns) and Judy Geeson (10 Rillington Place, Fear in the Night), Berserk is a deranged slice of Great British Grand(Dame) Guignol a bloody exploitation classic!

***

One of the lower points of Joan Crawford's latter-day career curve (though nothing to compare with the later embarrassment of Trog!), this lurid, low-rent thriller nevertheless gives Crawford the opportunity to chew acres of scenery in a campy Marlene Dietrich-style get-up. She portrays the ringmaster of a cheesy traveling circus troupe whose stars are being whacked in a variety of flamboyant ways (many of which are depicted in the garish trailer, particularly Michael Gough's spike-in-the-head scene). Despite the exploitation potential in this lurid Grand Guignol scenario, this film is fairly light on scares or gore -- and far too heavy on circus stock footage. A sequel of sorts to producer Herman Cohen's Horrors of the Black Museum, this one is a slight improvement, thanks to Crawford's outrageous, over-the-top performance.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 6th, 1967

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Review: Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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NOTE: There is a Strait-Jacket and Berserk Double Feature Blu-ray also available:

Distribution Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:36:18.063         
Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,281,462,739 bytes

Feature: 28,418,823,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Indicator

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,281,462,739 bytes

Feature: 28,418,823,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

The BFI interview with Joan Crawford (1956) (13:42)
Audio commentary with film historians Lee Gambin and Eloise Ross
Pamela Hutchinson on Joan Crawford (2018) (14:40)
Jonathan Rigby on 'Berserk' (2018): a new appreciation by the author of American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema (31:50)
Didier Chatelain on Herman Cohen (2018): an interview with producer Cohen's assistant and business partner (13:30)

Focus Puller Jim Alloway on Berserk (14:12)
Tom Baker's Beyond Belief! VHS Introduction (1997) (4:58)
Tom Baker's Beyond Belief! Outtakes (1997) (21:09)
Original theatrical trailer (2:24)
Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
Limited Edition exclusive booklet containing a new essay by Josephine Botting, archival interviews, historic articles, an overview of contemporary critical responses and full film credits
UK premiere on Blu-ray
Limited Edition of 3,000 copies


Blu-ray Release Date:
December 10th, 2018
Standard Blu-ray Case inside cardboard sleeve

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Indicator present the Grand(Dame) Guignol exploitation classic Berserk to a new, stacked Blu-ray package. It's on a dual-layered Blu-ray in 1080P with a max'ed out bitrate. It has consistent grain and a very film-like image. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks solid in-motion - at Indicator's usual lofty standard. Not a pixel out of place. 

The film is presented in its original mono via a linear PCM audio track in the original English language. There are circus and murder related effects that come through authentically flat carrying some depth.
 The score is by John Scott who, in his career, had composed for restored silents like the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as Ted Kotcheff's classic Wake in Fright, Cop-Out, and Cult Camp Classics like 1970's Trog, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, The People That Time Forgot Symptoms, The Final Countdown and many more as well as It Might Be Me in Berserk performed by Circus ensemble. The audio quality is decent and dialogue is clear and audible. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on this Region FREE Blu-ray.

Indicator add a fun audio commentary with film historians Lee Gambin and Eloise Ross expanding on the film's reputation detailing Crawford and others. It certainly raises the value of the package. There is also a BFI, audio only, interview with Joan Crawford from 1956 running almost 14-minutes. I enjoyed Pamela Hutchinson on Joan Crawford a new 1/4 hour take on the star of Berserk. We get the always informative Jonathan Rigby on 'Berserk' which is a new appreciation by the author of American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema running over 1/2 hour. Didier Chatelain on Herman Cohen is a new 14-minuten interview with producer Cohen's assistant and business partner. More on the technical is 'Focus Puller' Jim Alloway on Berserk for another 14-minutes. There are two pieces with, Dr. Who, Tom Baker's Beyond Belief!; a VHS Introduction and 21-minutes of superfluous Beyond Belief! Outtakes from 1997. Last are an original theatrical trailer and image gallery with on-set and promotional photography and the package contains a limited edition exclusive booklet containing a new essay by Josephine Botting, archival interviews, historic articles, an overview of contemporary critical responses and full film credits. It is limited to 3,000 copies.

Famous for its
Grand 'Dame' Guignol status Berserk is not the height of cinema but has a strange camp flavor that is widely appealing with its exploitation elements.  The Blu-ray transfer is perfect and there are a wealth of extras including the commentary. An amusing horror popcorn'er that we can endorse to those keen on this obscure Hagsploitation genre.

Gary Tooze

 


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Distribution Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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