Theme Song: The original music in Terror on Tour was performed by The Names, a group from Rockford, Illinois. The band members also act in the movie as the fictional rock group The Clowns. A soundtrack for Terror on Tour was never released, but lucky for you I’m a fan of obscure Midwestern late-70s power-pop and I own the only 7” The Names ever released.
“Why Can’t It Be” is the best song from that 7”. The Names were one of around a dozen bands from Rockford and surrounding areas of Illinois that were riding on the wave of success that Cheap Trick helmed. The best of these bands is Zion, Illinois’ very own Shoes. You should buy their album Black Vinyl Shoes. Back to The Names as The Clowns:
There are no song titles listed in the closing credits, but this is a song from the film. It’s more of an acoustic number that we’ll call “Lisa.”
Here’s another song from the movie that definitely shows the Cheap Trick influence. We’ll call this song “Let it Rain.”
Interesting Dated References: Shouting out, “I need a joint!,” until someone brings you a joint; The early-to-mid 80s brief albeit prolific sub-genre of Rock-n-Roll/Heavy Metal-themed horror movies (Black Roses, Hard Rock Zombies, Thor-starring Rock-n-roll Nightmare, and the Betamax Rundown hallmark Rocktober Blood).
Best Line: Said by half naked woman — “That cocaine made me really horny!”
Social Context: I’m sure the writer of Terror on Tour envisioned he was creating some type of statement about violence and sexism in music and how those themes can create actual violence, but then the film crew forgot to bring their lighting.
Summary: The movie opens with The Names/The Clowns performing inside what appears to be a very dark high school gymnasium, and the band is wearing red-accented black leotards, big puffy afro wigs, and white face paint. Part of their act entails tearing the limbs off blouse-wearing female mannequins. Part of their act also entails tearing the blouses off blouse-wearing female humans.
Meanwhile backstage, a couple of roadies talk about Quaaludes, groupies, and dope. The lead roadie dresses up like one of The Clowns in an attempt to capitalize on potential post-show spillover pussy. And then some female drug dealer gets murdered in a back alley.
Apparently The Clowns only play this sole venue because after the show they sit around with their manager and discuss how they are going to have another show there the following evening. Then a snooping venue owner wanders around and discovers the corpse and suddenly the cops are conducting an investigation at the venue.
Later at home, the band plays bumper pool and orders a pizza. Considering what a sordid picture the roadies were painting with their talk of ‘ludes and chicks, the actual band members live like middle school boys having a sleepover. And speaking of bumper pool, can some of you annoying retro-obsessed dildos bring it back? My parents’ friends used to have a table and it easily distracted us kids for hours while they sat upstairs and probably did drugs. I loved bumper pool and it’s deserving of a comeback.
The next day the band manager (played by Larry Thomas, otherwise know as the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi”) fields phone calls about the murder.
Later that night we go back to the concert venue where there’s a large party taking place. Instead of playing music, the band members just stand around and talk to drunk people.
Almost right away, women who like to show their breasts in dimly-lit situations begin to get murdered in even more dimly-lit situations. These situations entail the women waiting in various rooms for one of the band members to show up in their clown makeup so they can make love to them like nascent Juggalettes.
The next day the cops come and question the band and their manager some more. The band members get cocky and claim they “have the world by the short hairs.” Later at the venue (because they are playing the same venue yet again), the band members really let their northern Illinois accents fly as they talk about “the cehps” (READ: “the cops”) over and over.
How is this outfit intimidating in any way? It’s a man’s ballet dancer leotard with that huge opening at the top so your chest hair will show. And then add to that a papier-mâché mask in the style of The Phantom of the Opera, but sporting a huge afro-wig. I understand there may have been budget constraints with Terror On Tour, but they could have tried a bit harder. These outfits look almost exactly like Doctor Rockso from Metalocalypse. Perhaps the creators of Metalocalypse are paying a tribute to Terror on Tour?
So the cehps send in an undercover groupie to try to catch the killer. She runs around in the corridors of the high school gymnasium/concert venue, finding various dead girls. All this action is intercut with scenes of dimly-lit women with bare breasts being stabbed by someone dressed as one of The Clowns.
The entire time the band continues to play on stage. Eventually the undercover groupie finds the deceased corpse of one of the cehps and begs the corpse “not to die.” She then finds the manager (Soup Nazi), who reveals himself to be the killer, and he rants about women and whores but fails to say anything compelling.
He stabs a helpful roadie who then crawls onto the stage and dies, and then the Soup Nazi runs onto the stage and screams “stop!” because he is wearing a leotard. We end on a freeze frame of his face.
Look, I know this is a little lacking in editorial content, but there’s not a lot here to talk about. The reveal that the manager was doing the killings isn’t much of a reveal because the story isn’t very engaging. The Names probably saw this as a good opportunity to get their music out there, but I don’t think they foresaw all the heavy lifting that comes with having to actually act. They’re natural when chatting with each other, but when called on to deliver key lines,
things fall a little flat. Terror on Tour was directed by Don Edmonds, who previously had done such well-regarded (and well-lit) classics as Ilsa: She-wolf of The SS and
Also of note: Buck Flower (character actor previously seen on The Betamax Rundown in The Alpha Incident and The Dark Ride is listed as a Production Manager in the credits. His daughter Verkina Flower is also listed in the credits as “Well Endowed Woman” but due to the poor lighting, I can’t tell which one she is.
Poster and Box Art: The U.S. video box for Terror on Tour is good from an illustration standpoint, but considering the content of the movie, you’d think they’d have gone a little more violent. As it stands, it looks like it could be a children’s cartoon about a band consisting of clowns.
This Italian video box amps up the violence a bit and was probably done in the mid-to-late 80s, well after the original cover was done.
Availability: Used VHS on Amazon and eBay.