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Monica Rivers is the owner and ringmaster of a traveling circus, and she'll stop at nothing to draw bigger audiences. When a series of mysterious murders begins to occur and some of her performers die gruesomely, her profits soar. She hires high-wire walker Frank Hawkins, impressed by the handsome and muscular young man. They begin an affair which arouses her previous lover Durando's jealousy. When Durando is found dead shortly afterward, the other performers begin to take alarm, as a mysterious killer is obviously loose in their midst. Many suspect Monica herself of the killings, especially Matilda, who has set her sights on Monica's new lover. At this point, Monica's unruly, sixteen-year-old daughter Angela is expelled from school for being incorrigible, and Monica is forced to take her into the circus, allowing her to become the partner of knife-thrower Gustavo. Meanwhile, the dead bodies continue to pile up...Written by
Sharp eyes will notice that as Superintendent Brooks is talking to Commissioner Dalby after one of the mysterious deaths, they pass an ad that says "Come Alive! With Pepsi". Joan Crawford was the widow of Alfred Steele, who had been CEO of the Pepsi-Cola Company, and at the time of filming, Crawford was still on the Board of Directors. Product placement of Pepsi can be seen in at least one other Crawford film of this era, Strait-Jacket (1964). See more »
Although the film takes place at The Great Rivers Circus, all the elephants' headdresses bear the initials "BS" - for Billy Smart's Circus, the real circus they performed in. See more »
Now most people say this is a ridiculous and pretentious piece of clap-trap but they're wrong. This is considerably better than most crappy '80s period movies i've seen. Joan Crawford plays Monica Rivers, a sexy owner of The Great Rivers Circus who wastes no time in taking advantage of the publicity brought in by a string of murders - two of which happen during a performance - and falls under suspicion, all thanks to the loud-mouth Matilda (Diana Dors). She seems to fall apart with each tragedy and soon everyone - including her daughter (Judy Geeson), the cool-dude tightrope walker (Ty Harding) and the pompous manager (Michael Gough) - wonders if she's gone 'BERSERK'. Despite a few airy-fairy conversations and ludicrous puns, BERSERK is definitely a cult classic and should be seen if you've never been to a circus. It makes good use of suspense and you don't know who is getting it next.
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