I’ve seen a lot of good B movies. This may be the first C movie I’ve seen, and though director Alan Randolph tries to give Terror Circus an artistic edge, it’s ultimately dull. Far more disturbing than terrifying. Why Code Red (it’s a studio and a version of Mountain Dew) decided that Terror Circus deserved a Blu ray release, is beyond me, but I’m confident that there will still be a few available come Christmas shopping time.
When three young ladies (Manuela Theiss, Gyl Roland, and former Mousekateer Sherry Alberoni) make a pit stop at a small gas station in the middle of the dessert, they quickly draw the attention of the two male employees. With the intent of hitting on them, they tell them that the thermostat on the car needs to be replaced. They tell them they should stick around and join them at the circus. Was this a reference to the “Terror Circus”? We never really know. The girls decide to risk it and continue on their way to Vegas. The car does indeed overheat, and they are left trapped in the middle of nowhere.
The mysterious Andre (Andrew Prine) shows up and rescues them. Unfortunately, he leads them to his circus and somehow manages to get all three chained up. Though it appears that the chains could be lifted over their heads, that never happens. Our heroines now sit amongst numerous other female characters that have been held captive for months. Andre is a nut job who fancies himself a ringmaster and the girls his animals to be whipped and trained into doing tricks.
Andre spends his days tormenting his captives and keeping an eye on the surrounding area. He scans the terrain from his tower in search of others that he might add to his circus or those who might attempt to rescue the girls. As an example of Andres territorial antics, we see him somehow sneak up on two hunters and brutally kill them. The scene is awkward since it takes place in the desert. There is nothing for Andre to hide behind, and the hunters clearly hear him coming, but somehow don’t see him.
In a last-ditch effort to make this circus truly terrifying, we discover that it is in an area where nuclear testing has taken place, and thus there is a mutant living in a shed near Andre’s compound. Luckily, Andre keeps the shed secure with a stick.
The girls make feeble attempts to escape. The most memorable being when Andres leaves the keys behind, and they all start screaming at each other to get the keys and open the locks. Andre is a large nut burger, but he can hear. Though the girl’s manager Derek (legendary DJ Chuck Niles) is actively searching for the girls, the circus does not conclude with a happy ending thanks to the mutant from the shed.
The new release does include an interesting featurette. Born Again! Returning to Terror Circus: Interviews with associate producer Marvin Almeas, costume designer Allan A. Apone, actress Jennifer Ashley and special makeup/effects creators Byrd Holland and Douglas J. White. All involved tend to have fond memories of the production. Luckily, they excluded Andrew Prine from the piece. Unlike most of the cast, Prine went on to bigger and better things building a substantial career. Prine has been quoted as saying, “This is the only movie I ever regretted making.” I feel ya, Andy, I regret watching it.
Terror Circus receives Ron’s Rejection. This film is a mess. There is too much here that makes no sense. There are multiple ideas here, but none are fully explored or “fleshed” out. We never actually get to see a circus performance, nor do the two gas station attendants that mentioned the circus at the start of the movie. We all end up disappointed.