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Circus of Horrors (1960)

 -  Horror | Drama  -  April 1960 (UK)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 966 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 29 critic

In 1947 England, a plastic surgeon must beat a hasty retreat to France when one of his patients has ghastly problems with her surgery. Once there, he operates on a circus owner's daughter, ... See full summary »

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Title: Circus of Horrors (1960)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Anton Diffring ...
Dr. Schuler
Erika Remberg ...
Elissa Caro
Yvonne Monlaur ...
Nicole Vanet
...
Vanet
Jane Hylton ...
Angela
Kenneth Griffith ...
Martin
Conrad Phillips ...
Insp. Arthur Ames
...
Supt. Andrews
Vanda Hudson ...
Magda von Meck
Yvonne Romain ...
Melina
Colette Wilde ...
Evelyn Morley Finsbury
William Mervyn ...
Doctor Morley
John Merivale ...
Edward Finsbury
Peter Swanwick ...
German Police Inspector Knopf
Carla Challoner ...
Nicole (as a Child)
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Storyline

In 1947 England, a plastic surgeon must beat a hasty retreat to France when one of his patients has ghastly problems with her surgery. Once there, he operates on a circus owner's daughter, deformed by bombs from the war. Later he becomes the owner of the circus, and continues transforming disfigured women into the beautiful stars of his show. The police and a nosy reporter (as well as Scotland Yard) become interested when the women who want out of the circus begin dying in freak accidents, and they begin suspecting the good doctor is responsible. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

For ever stranger thrills...he turned the greatest show on earth into a... See more »

Genres:

Horror | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

April 1960 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Phantom of the Circus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The clowns are dressed as Keystone Cops in one of the scenes. See more »

Goofs

Although, at the climax, the circus is known as 'Shuler's Circus' and is clearly labeled as such on exterior shots, the ring is clearly marked round its edge with the repeated initials 'B S'. The 'B S' presumably stands for Billy Smart of Billy Smart's Circus who provided the big top location. See more »

Quotes

Elissa Caro: Your face...
Elissa Caro: I know it's as ugly as sin but the body's ok so I make out.
Elissa Caro: You can be beautiful if you would trust me.
Elissa Caro: Trust you, a perfect stranger.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

The Washington Post
(uncredited)
Music by John Philip Sousa
Arranged by Muir Mathieson
Played during the equestrian act
Also played during the parade before the final show
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Horrifying, brutal and effective
9 July 2004 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

After the fantastic opening sequence in which a young woman smashes all the mirrors in her room before revealing herself to have horrible facial scars, you just know you're in for a treat, and this movie certainly doesn't disappoint!

The story follows Doctor Rossiter, a plastic surgeon that finds he has to flee England after an operation on a young woman went horribly wrong. He then goes to, as the film says, 'somewhere in France', where, after certain events transpire, he becomes the owner of a French circus. He uses this circus as a cover so he can use his anxious hands to operate on disfigured women so he can put them into his circus show as beautiful performers. He dubs the circus "the circus of beauty", but after several of his performers die in horrible "accidents", it later becomes the "The Jinx Circus", and attracts attention from the local police authorities…

Anton Diffring looks suitably evil as the plastic surgeon that uses his skills to change the faces of women with scars to make them beautiful performers in his circus. His character is portrayed as being malevolent and inhumane throughout the film, as all he cares for is himself and his work, which is shown best by the way he treats the love given to him by his associate's sister, which makes it hard for the audience to feel anything at all for him. Even when he displays human emotion by falling in love with one of patients, his character is still shown in a bad light and we are still made to hate him. This, however, is a definite asset to the movie as it makes the audience feel contempt for the man, and that pays off immensely towards the ending, which is rich with poetic justice. Had the character have had a prevalent human element, this ending would not have worked nearly as well.

The plotting throughout the film is thrilling and suspenseful, certain scenes in particular such as the sequence where the young girl has her bandages removed and the knife throwing scenes are positively nail biting. The film captures the imagination and keeps the viewer fully entertained throughout it's running time without getting boring for a second. The film also manages to do a thing that few films really manage, and that is that it's actually quite horrifying. The scars shown on the faces of his victims are horrible, but only horrible enough so they're still believable. Had the film gone over the top in the make up department, it could have lead to the scars looking silly and therefore unbelievable, but it's all spot on. One of my favourite things about this movie is the act done by the 'death defying woman of the air', Elissa Caro; the act in itself is impressive, but when blended with a pop song and cheers from the audience it gives it a haunting and atmospheric feel and the outcome of that is really quite beautiful.

Circus of Horrors is without a doubt one of the finest British horror films ever made, and therefore it is definitely recommended viewing.


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