Danny O'Brien (Chuck Norris) is a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, and he has been tracking this serial killer, Simon Moon aka The Terror (Jack O'Halloran) for some months as the number of women the monster has murdered has reached well into double figures. O'Brien and his partner have worked out that he may be living at this fairground by the beach, and enter an old, abandoned building there to investigate. On opening a trapdoor, O'Brien is horrified to see some bodies lying inside, and on opening another, he is face to face with The Terror...
But it's only a dream in this, one of the last films Norris made for Cannon at the point where the money was running out and the writing, if not on the wall for Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, was certainly about to be penned. This has meant Hero and the Terror has somewhat sunk with very few ripples even in the career of the karate kicking star, which was unfortunate for although those expecting some of Norris's usual ass-kicking exploits would be let down to an extent, those wanting to see him try something a little different might be more intrigued. Here, Chuck tried his hand at acting.
That may be enough to make you shudder at the very thought of a thespian lightweight like him trying to convey things like emotions, but although he wasn't set on winning any Oscars, he surprisingly acquitted himself rather well as a more sensitive character than he was accustomed to. Here O'Brien is plagued with terrifying nightmares about his takedown of Moon, but thinks he can move on seeing as how his psychologist girlfriend is now pregnant and he can settle down with her. She was Kay, played by Brynn Thayer in an unexpectedly good performance for this sort of movie, and the scenes she shared with Norris raised his acting game noticeably.
In fact so much attention was offered to Danny and Kay's relationship that you think, OK, I know where this is going, The Terror will scoop her up in one paw and take her to the top of the nearest tall building before the film is over. You'd be wrong about that, however, those character scenes were just that, scenes to deepen the personalities between the partners, as they were intended to illustrate to O'Brien, and us for that matter, just how much he has to lose should the villain get his way. The script was written by ex-actor Michael Blodgett, best known for appearing in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and his most recognisable script would have been the one for Turner & Hooch.
Blodgett was evidently sympathetic to the cast in what they would like to be trying, fine, there was one clichéd Chuck Norris scene where he got to try out his moves on a bunch of smugglers at the docks, but even that had an amusing joke about toast to buoy it along. The bulk of the thriller aspect was actually more of a horror about a seemingly unstoppable serial killer who hides away Phantom of the Opera style in a lavish, newly re-opened cinema and only emerges from grilles in the walls to snap the neck of a solitary woman, then take the body back to a hidden room for his collection. It was interesting that O'Halloran made for a stronger bad guy than you might have anticipated considering he was your basic, mute, man mountain of a psychopath, and that was down to everyone else in the plot being really scared of him, including Danny, the police, the media and the office of the Mayor (Ron O'Neal). Fair enough, this was never going to break boundaries, but it was better than it had a right to be. Music by David Michael Frank.