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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
Producer Herman Cohen reportedly wanted to cast Joan Crawford's oldest adopted child Christina in the role eventually played by Judy Geeson, thus having the film's mother and daughter characters played by actors related in real life. Mommie Dearest herself vetoed the idea, declaring it "cheap stunt casting." See more »
Despite each show taking place in a different location, some of the same audience members are shown more than once. See more »
[after Matilda is thrown out of Frank's trailer]
Matilda, darling, you should be careful about leaving like that; you'll damage your brain.
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I recently saw this on the 'Big Screen' and laughed all the way through the film. This is not a film to be taken seriously.
From the highly improbable yet shocking title credit, you know it will be an overacted, campy, ride. I mean, how many times do you see emergency personnel put someone on a stretcher face down to carry them out?!? The few murders are delightfully over the top and the dialogue is bitchy and knowing. It tries to be 'hard boiled" and fails miserably!
Yes, there are several scenes that are too long and/or pointless. We are shown entire circus acts of parading elephants and prancing poodle--even a bizarre musical number from out of nowhere. These scenes slow down an otherwise fun, campy film--although, they do add a sort of 'out-of-touch' surrealness to the film.
At the end, when the killer is reveal and the killer screeches that they had to "kill, kill, kill!" the audience in the theater roared with laughter.
This is film that should be seen with friends, preferable those that enjoy over the top acting, campy dialogue and inventive (if very improbable) murders!
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