TERROR ON TOUR is about a band called The Clowns, who wear makeup kind of like Kiss, as well as black leotards, red capes, afro wigs with two white stripes, and sometimes Phantom of the Opera type half-masks. This is important because someone is going around doing the murders and we don’t know if it’s a lookalike or a band member and which band member or which lookalike.
The movie contains “original music by The Names,” who I have determined to be the one from Rockford, Illinois, not the one from Brussels. And I believe they are playing the band in the movie, which is why (just like Easy Action as Solid Gold in BLOOD TRACKS) they don’t really do that much acting. Instead the story focuses on these two guys in the green room, roadies or something. One guy likes to put on makeup so he can trick groupies into thinking he’s in the band (approved by the band), and his main job seems to be buying drugs for the other guy.
The title is slightly misleading because although I guess they’re technically on tour we only see them in one town, one venue, where they’re playing shows on multiple nights and also having parties. The police are suspicious of the band and their shindigs even before they find a dead lady in the alley, yet they have no security and only a couple suit wearing cops including Lieutenant Lambert (John Green, DEMENTED) occasionally standing in a quiet part of the building looking at documents and stuff.
The police are not wrong to be suspicious of The Clowns. Misogyny is part of the band’s lifestyle. They always have sexy female dancers in striped jumpers and a mannequin dressed identically which they decapitate as part of the act. The makeup guy is doing that makeup trick to try to get laid under false pretensese. The drug guy rips off a female drug dealer and tricks her into waiting outside in the cold. The band members trade off groupies. They have a room in the venue that’s like a sex dungeon with fake blood smeared on the wall. That the victims are groupies and a drug dealer/prostitute (wearing a Clowns t-shirt) implies an attitude at least on the part of the killer that the lives of such people are not valuable, or not valued by society enough for their killers to be sought. The motive does end up being a judgmental “these people are sinners” type of thing, and there’s some discussions questioning why the fans like seeing their fake violence. There’s a letter (awkwardly read out loud) from a religious mother talking about temptation and Satan, and that might encourage murder. In this movie, both rock ‘n roll and its opposing forces are kinda evil.
But you can understand why people would have fun at the shows. I mean, they have capes. They have black lips. It’s crazy.
They do not have particularly cool t-shirts, but I guess some people respect minimalism. Is it fair to say that Clowns fans were the original juggalos? I don’t know.
The closest thing to a likable character is “that cute little thing [Lambert] busted a while back” (Lindy Leah?) who he puts undercover as a groupie. She’s clearly forced into it and calls Lambert a bastard, but then there’s a weird moment where he tells her to take care of herself and she asks “What’s this, a cop with a heart?” and as she’s leaving she says “Hey Lambert, if I miss send me a dozen red roses. Long stemmed.”
“Hopefully not over a pine box,” he says.
It’s probly just a gesture of friendship between these two sort-of-enemies, but the big smile she has makes it seem like maybe she’s maybe trying to signal interest in him? Anyway, it’s never followed up on.
Director/stunt coordinator Don Edmonds also did ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS, ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS and BARE KNUCKLES, and co-wrote THE NIGHT STALKER. Most surprisingly legit credit: co-producer on TRUE ROMANCE. All of this surprises me because this doesn’t seem like the work of someone who has made other movies you’ve heard of before. Less surprisingly he was a character actor with many bit parts, including “Elderly Man” in 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE and three different detective characters across eight episodes of Hunter.
In related news, I’m not sure “not well known rock band themed horror only on VHS” was the best theme for this year. But you can’t know until you try.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.