Friday, June 02, 2017

Berserk! (1967)

A 'Random Movie Trailer' to round out the week: Berserk! from 1967.  A Produced by notorious schlockster Herman Cohen, (he was the man behind such low budget classics as Konga, Craze, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and Horrors of the Black Museum, amongst many others), Beserk! is sort of a companion piece to his prehistoric ape man on the loose movie Trog.  Both star Joan Crawford who, incredibly, Cohen had managed to get under contract at the tail end of her career.  Whether it is any better than Trog - a truly abysmal film - I can't rightly say, having never seen Berserk! in its entirety.  It's film which, even during my seventies childhood when they'd show just about any film in the late night schedules, rarely, if ever, turned up on TV. 

What I can say, based on the trailer and other excerpts I've seen, is that appears to be typical of Cohen's UK made films: slick looking and packed with semi-star names, most of whom are quickly killed of for budgetary reasons.  (As always, Cohen favourite Michael Gough is on hand). They often feature bizarre and ingenious methods of killing people (which are also highly exploitable in trailers) and are effectively crime/horror hybrids, as the identity of a mysterious killer is sought.  Berserk! also falls into a curious sub genre of British horror movies: the circus-themed horror film.  Perhaps the most notable entry in this small group of films was 1960's Circus of Horrors, a remarkbly sadistic movie featuring Anton Diffring as an on-the-run plastic surgeon staffing his circus with criminals he has given new faces.  Berserk!, however, would seem closer to the Harry Allan Towers produced Circus of Fear, which was effectively a British attempt at a German 'Krimi' type of film. 

Berserk! is another of those films I keep meaning to try and track down and watch, but am always put off doing so because the quality of the other Cohen films I've seen.  Despite often featuring some top line talent on both sides of the camera (Freddie Francis, for instance, directed several movies for Cohen), they usually disappoint, offering garish thrills but never quite delivering.  To be sure, some of them are hugely entertaining in their utterly barmy way - Konga, Horrors of the Black Museum and Black Zoo, (all featuring magnificently insane performances from Micheal Gough), in particular, come to mind here - and they frequently offer a level sadistic cruelty rarely seen in British horror films of the period, but they never feel completely satisfying.  That said, I have some hopes that Berserk! might be a reasonably entertaining movie, being directed by Jim O'Connolly, a producer, director and writer with a small, but interesting, number of directorial credits, including the Ray Harryhausen cowboys-versus-dinosaur epic  Valley of the Gwangi and the utterly insane horror film Tower of Evil.   Now, that's another movie I really must get around to discussing here...



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