"The Clowns are a rock group on their way up the ladder of success. In their macabre makeup it is impossible to distinguish one from the other. Their incredible stage performance center around sadistic, mutilating theatrics and eventually real murders begin. The police are called in and consider the band members prime suspects until they realize the killings are occurring during their performances.
The search for the murderer begins ... and ends with the audience chanting, Kill, Kill, Kill!"
As far as early 80's cheese heaven premises go they don't come much more sure-fire than this: a KISS-esque shock rock group, the Clowns - who dress in black lycra, with faces painted half-clown and half-skull, and who indulge in faux onstage mutilation theatrics (ala Alice Cooper), singing lyrics like:"We'll cut you into little pieces and send you home in a box!" - find themselves suspects numero-uno as groupies really do begin to drop like fies. Add to this the fact that it's made by a veritible who's-who of early 80's trash cinema it's a shame, then, it doesn't quite live up to its full potential.
The group, who have only taken to these shock tactics to make some money and wish they could get back to some real songwriting, find themselves surrounded by a right bunch of reprobates: a sleazy manager, an even sleazier fat greaseball theatre manager (played by Sandy Cobe, real-life producer of such this and other early 80's slasher trash classics, such TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT and HOME SWEET HOME), a dysfunctional entourage who like to dress as the band ("...to get near the chicks"), and a veritable bevvy of loose ladies who, when their T-shirts aren't wet, seem to have a great deal of trouble keeping them on.
During the band's tour, on their first night in a ramshackle theatre, the band's dope dealer - a droopy eyed blonde in a Clown's T-shirt, is stabbed in the gut with a huge butchers knife outside the stage door by someone dressed as one of the band. Meanwhile the band's manager decides he needs to keep the band entertained and suggests holding a party, "...loose women, drugs, booze ... you know the scene."; the band, however, bitch and gripe and make the de-riguer self-referential comment (yeah, they were at it even back then), "We're all in this together - and we're not getting out alive!". The discovery of the body puts a slight dampner on things (well, for, like, five minutes), and the police are called in, "Some crazy has really bought this group's act!", ponders a detective before wondering aloud, "These guys sure know how to murder a girl onstage, I wonder if any of them are tired of make believe?"
Naturally, the party goes ahead and the old theatre is filled with 24 hour party people, snorting drugs and swilling booze like there's no tomorrow. The group, indistinguishable in their costumes, are swarmed around by groupies, giving rise to some seriously cheesy dialogue such as: "I think I love you, have we met before?", "Only in your dreams." Away from the party the band members make use of a (stage) blood splattered basement room which houses only a bed and a noose hanging from the cieling, it's where they entertain the laydeez (who says romance is dead?) - and it's here that the cheesy dialogue continues unabated: "Ooh, that cocaine made me really horny!", squeals one; a band member asks, of his latest conquest-to-be, "How long do we have?", "Hmmm, about eight and a half inches - no, make that nine!", she purrs. It comes as no great surprise, then, that as the blouses fly, the knives come out (giving rise to even more cheesy dialogue as one the groupies slurs to the diguised killer, "Ooh, is there anything I can do for you?", to which comes the reply, "Yes, die!").
The discovery of three bodies, dumped uncerimonoiusly in the theatre toilet cubicles, makes the police decide that they have to do something drastic (yeah, like investigate a little!). They draft in an ex-junkie con who, in return for her freedom, agrees to pose as an excitable groupie; so, armed with a backstage pass and a flirtatious manner she goes to root out her man.
TERROR ON TOUR is a low rent slasher opus, to be sure - from Don Edmunds,
the director of sleaze classic ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS, no less (not
to mention James W Roberson, director of the fantastic SUPERSTITION,
here director of cinemaphotography) - which takes a good idea but, unfortunately,
doesn't do very much with it. Edmunds could have got some serious mileage out
of the fact that any of the many 'clowns' wandering the backstage area could
be the killer, but, apart from a brief few scenes where, whilst been chased, the police insider clumps down a darkened corridor in high heeled disco shoes (I know some girls like
to appear stylish at all times but there are limits!), it's resolutely thrill
free. Actually, for much of its running time it's pretty dull; not helped by
the fact that the majority of the cast sound bored and muffled (bad sound).
The cheesy flashes certainly help, and a resolutely sleazy grind-house ambience
is certainly of it's time (dig that funky sub-porno background musak!), but,
despite a few sidewinders near the end (including the killer's typically ironic
explanation for his motive, in such an unapoligetically sleazy movie: "I had to kill them - they had no moral
values at all!", it fails to really rock as an especially effective
female:6 / male:2
1) Female stabbed in stomach
2) Female stabbed to death
3) Female has throat slit
4) Female stabbed in chest
5) Female stabbed to death
6) Male stabbed in gut
7) Female stabbed in stomach
8) Male stabbed in back