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Not sure why 'Vampire Circus' isn't mentioned when people talk about the best Hammer movies, because it certainly deserves to be. As usual the studio manages to create a lot of period atmosphere and chills on, one assumes, not a very large budget, and like most of their movies the acting is uniformly good. The story concerns a village being attacked by a mysterious lethal plague which may or may not be connected with a dark episode in the small communities past concerning an evil Count who once terrorized all and sundry. The village is cut off from the outside world, and while they anxiously await some outside medical attention, a strange traveling circus arrives. The villagers leap upon anything to tale their minds off their awful predicament, but as you can tell from the title, the circus folk aren't exactly what they appear to be and have secret plans of justice and revenge. The performers themselves are much more interesting and sensual than the uptight villagers, and this creates an unusual tension in the viewer compared to many vampire movies, where good vs. evil is black and white with no troubling ambiguities. This is a very unusual twist on the familiar subject matter, and in my opinion one of the most underrated and overlooked vampire movies ever made. Trainspotters note: the supporting cast includes David 'Darth Vader' Prowse as the circus strongman, and Lalla Ward (who replaced Mary Tamm as Romana in 'Dr Who') as a pretty sexy vampire.
Title: Vampire Circus
Director: Robert Young
Cast: Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, Anthony Higgins
Vampire Circus is one of those hard to find, elusive Hammer Vampire flicks. I had been looking for it for the longest time having heard nothing but good things about this uncommon vampire movie. I finally got my hands on it and I feel that I have somehow found the holy grail or something.
It starts out like many vampire flicks. The towns people storming the castle of a vampire who has been feeding on the towns young women and children. They decide to take justice into their own hands and rid the world of Count Mitterhouse.
When I say that this movie starts out like many other vampire flicks, I don't mean that in a bad way. This opening is a very fast paced one, filled with lots of confrontations...somehow you get the feeling that you are walking in on the ending of the film. Count Mitterhouse is a very vicious vampire, he seems almost more fierce then Lee's Dracula in many scenes. Great way to open a movie! In the first 12 minutes you get a couple of towns folk slaughtered full frontal nudity and a little girl killed by Mitterhouse. But when the towns people finally do get to kill him, he says he will one day come to life again and just before he dies he curses the town with a plague.
Fast forward fifteen years later...and people are dying from a horrible curse, the town is quarantined and no one is allowed to leave. If you do try to leave the town...you get shot down! Anyhows in comes the "Circus of Night" a circus that the towns people welcome with open arms...something to take their minds away from all the death that the plague has brought upon them. The "circus of night" has their own little plan under their sleeves but that is for you to find out when you see the movie.
Well people thats the set up for what was surely one of the strangest vampire flicks I have ever seen. I mean...come on....vampires and a weird circus in the same movie, how can you go wrong with a mix like that? Does the movie manage to be interesting after a fast paced action packed opening sequence like that? It sure does.
Like many films with the circus/carnival setting one of the main attractions on this movie were the circus performers. This "circus of night" is filled with your usual circus folk. The Strong Man, The Twins Who turn into bats, The Midget Clown and The Panther who turns into a man, The Body Paint Dancers, Um...OK, maybe they are not your usual circus folk, but they sure do make for an interesting and freaky film. All the characters in the circus are very intriguing simply because of their freakishness, they are certainly more likable then the towns folk.
This Hammer production has more boob shots then usual. The nudity was very abundant in Vampire Circus. Another really cool thing about the flick: the vampires have huuuge fangs. I mean when they open their mouths you get to wondering how they are ever going to close them again with fangs that big. Cool image.
The movie is accompanied by a feeling of surrealism. Be on the lookout for some really freaky performances during the show. Specially those scenes involving "The Mirror of Life". Also those scenes with the naked/body paint/dancing lady. Add to this that the ring master is a midget clown and you have a night of weird bizarro cinema assured. Oh, and it also has one of the coolest and most original vampire death scenes I have seen! Not gonna spoil it for you guys but be on the look out for that.
As you can see, I don't have a great many bad things to say about this one. Maybe they screwed around with the vampire mythos a little too much, I mean a were-panther/vampire dude? Maybe that was a little too much. But I guess it just adds to the bizarre feeling this movie has.
Also some of the acting wasn't so good, mainly from the young guy who plays the son of the doctor in the film. He delivers his lines with a lot of overacting. But thats just a minor flaw, it was an all around good Hammer flick.
So, in conclusion. I'm glad I finally got to see Vampire Circus its a film that was fun because its weird freaky carnival feel and its likable villains. Too bad this film is often times ignored and doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Why release films like "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" which are just plain hurtful to look at, and then just completely ignore a gem like this? Sadly this film isn't even available in the United States.
It certainly is one of the most unique vampire films to come out of Hammers House of Horror, and one that any Vampire/Hammer lover should not miss.
Rating: 4 out of 5
People are always mentioning the Dracula series when talking about Hammer's
best Vampire flicks and, every once and a while, `The Vampire Lovers' and
`Twins of Evil' are named. But I never heard anyone praising Vampire Circus
And yet this is one of the greatest vampire movies I've seen so far.
A very structured and ingenious story with frightening characters, nasty
gore and constant action. The most fantastic aspects about this film are the
genuine strangeness and fairytale-like atmosphere. Yet, the solid
tension-level of this film depends on a simple principle: circus people are
eerie, and the idea of a travelling bunch of circus freaks is ominous. The
legendary director Tod Browning already knew this back in 1932 and the
overlooked chiller `Circus of Horrors' also follows this principle closely.
Personally, I get a lot more uncomfortable at the sight of a painted-face
midget than when seeing aliens, bogeymen or whatever other overblown horror
Vampire Circus is terrifically set in 19th century Serbia. 15 years after the townsfolk of a little community killed an evil count, they live in complete misery. The Plague has isolated them from the rest of the world and they live under the believe they're cursed. A travelling circus finally seems to bring some diversity into the lives of the poor townspeople with their amusing tricks of changing into nightly animals back and forth. But, there seems to be an horrific connection between the eerie circus and the destroyed count Most members of the circus are vampires too, coming to avenge the Count's death and to make him rise from his tomb. For once in your life, look beyond the poor production values! Vampire circus looks laughable and cheesy, but it really does have a compelling story to tell. A story with all the necessary horror ingredients: tension, gore (surprisingly much), great music, good-looking girls and even a bit of nudity. The more Hammer movies I see, the more I think this production company rules!! Even their most underrated ones, like it's definitely the case for Vampire Circus, must be seen by every horror fan. Highly recommended!
A small village uprises against Count Mitterhouse, their vampiric lord. He
vows a curse upon the town as he is being destroyed.Years later the town is
struck by an outbreak of disease.
Among this horror a travelling circus comes to town. As we slowly find out most of the circus performers are vampires.Some of the animals are vampiric humans! They begin to wreak vengeance upon the village slaughtering indiscriminately.
There is a rousing finish to this as vampires and villagers square off to do battle.Who will survive?
I was lucky enough to see an uncut foreign laserdisk of this film.Plot confusion stemming from the cut video is cleared up. The colors are lush.The direction is tight and there really isn't a wasted moment in this classic.The acting is top notch as well.This is even better than Horror Of Dracula in my opinion.
Sadly this is only available on laserdisk in the USA at this time. Hopefully Anchor Bay will release a complete version of this film to the video market.All you can do is wait...
... And you'll find a pretty good story in there
It's interesting to note that just about everyone on this page enjoyed VAMPIRE CIRCUS . I can take or leave horror movies especially ones involving vampires because they're self limiting , ( I mean how scary is a person with false teeth ? ) and for much of this movie we're treated to some substandard production values typical of Hammer studios in the early 1970s , the circus arena is supposed to be in the open air but is obviously filmed on an interior film set , the editing and special effects are really poor , there's a sequence with villagers being thrashed to death with a rug ( Well that's what it looked like to me ) while the cast are very uneven with John Moulder-Brown as Anton being just about the most unlikely hero I've ever seen in a horror movie . Oh and there's plenty of scenes with people with false teeth like those ones you buy at a joke shop
But... ...despite all this VAMPIRE CIRCUS is a very entertaining horror movie . I don't know if it's because I've seen too many smart ass post modernist American horror flicks recently but a story featuring a Central European village being cut off from the outside world because of plague and its inhabitants being killed one by one by a bunch of vengeful vampires appeals to me more than a self referrential story set in 21st century America . In fact many of the killings are paedophillic murders so this gives the movie a disturbingly adult strength in what could easily be dismissed as a silly movie
I gave in to my desire to resee Twins of Evil and check out Vampire Circus & Countess Dracula which I had never seen and ordered the "Hammer Vampire Collection" from UK. (If you're considering purchase, the discs are coded Region 2, so you can't play them on a lot of USA-sold DVD players. I watch Region 2 on my computer.) I loved Twins of Evil but the real winner was Vampire Circus, an intelligent and fun treatment of a curse upon a village which had the temerity to call an abrupt halt to the fun of the local feudal lord. It's suspenseful and fast moving. I agree with previous commenters that the villagers are so pompous that they earned their fates. Unlike most other posters, I welcomed the opportunity to see John Moulder-Brown in a (for me) new movie, albeit 32 years old. VC is beautifully photographed and the special effects are terrific. Clearly the folks at Hammer Studios did not need computers to create stunning visual images. If you can view Region 2 discs, go for it! You'll get a great thrill out of VC, probably their best vampire flick after Taste the Blood of Dracula!
One of the much better Hammer movies, this keeps going really well until right before the end, when there is a rather lame chase/fight that looked as if it came out of the school playground. However, this starts in startling form with much blood and nudity, to say nothing of an even more startling child abduction/murder. An isolated village is suffering both from the plague and from 'sins of the fathers'. Basically a vampire is p***ed off that he was 'killed' and swears revenge. This is effected largely with the use of a visiting circus and gives the film a tremendous boost. People and animals turn into each other and a dance by the tiger/lady is, as they say, worth the price of admission alone. Super well paced sexy, bloody horror, complete with campy performance from, you know who, before he played Darth Vader.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This eminently watchable Hammer movie has barely a dull moment. that's different from the other films in the genre in more ways than one : (1) Unlike most other well-known bloodsuckers of the films who invariably 'turn' their young female victims regardless of whether they have seduced them or not(notably Dracula and Mircalla), Count Mitterhaus, the lead vampire does not get his cravings for 'blood and the flesh' mixed which is probably why he preys exclusively on young children. He,in fact, puts off feasting on the child's blood till he has finished having passionate sex with pretty Anna("one lust feeds the other"---his own words !).Of course, he might have his reasons --- one suspects he has been using Anna as a kind of 'female Renfield'. Apart from sleeping with him, she was to lure the unsuspecting children to the castle of her vampire lover. Sounds very human though definitely evil.One wonders if he has other plans for her in case she failed in her duty though... (2) While the other 'chief' vampires exude an aura of power and dangerous attractiveness ,Mitterhaus is rather plain, if not downright ugly. He clearly lacks the looks or the roguish charms to be attractive to women. It, therefore is a mystery why Anna fell for him and did his bidding--- he must have cast a spell on her using his supernatural powers or has impressed her with his sexual prowess or, both. He even fights the assorted villagers with a sword and a knife ---- that too makes him look more human than undead. His cousin,Emil is, however, a more true-to-type vampire. (3)The vampires have traditionally been assumed to be able to change into bats, wolves or rats, but the shape-shifters here seem to turn into almost any animal including a black panther which prowls the countryside at times. This adds an exotic touch. (4)Apart from the Count's tomb, graveyards or coffins are conspicuous by their absence. (5)Mitterhaus, in his dying breath, asks Anna to inform Emil of his death. Vampires, as a rule(as seen in the movies), use human agents only to contact other humans to get things done in the daytime without arousing anyone's suspicion. (6)Though the usual mix of bloodsucking and eroticism is there(sex was made an integral part of vampire flicks by the horror film-makers from the Continent and everyone else had to fall in line) the highly steamy sequences pass off quickly enough to keep up with the frenetic pace of the story. All things considered, a superbly entertaining film with some interesting points that gets better with subsequent viewing!
This is of course not the only vampire movie made by the Hammer
studios. Countless versions of the famous Bram Stoker novel were made
by the Hammer studios, with almost always Peter Cushing and/or
Cristopher Lee as count Dracula. in the role of Van Helsing. This movie
however chooses a totally different approach. Instead of mostly relying
on elements from the Bram Stoker novel, the movie creates a totally
different and original story on its own. The end result can be
described as a mix between the 1932 movie "Freaks" and other earlier
vampire movies from the Hammer studios.
The story of this movie is original but above all well written. It's solid and it has some really interesting elements in it. The concept of a high powerful vampire taking revenge on the villagers and their families, through a group of circus vampires and other freaks, who killed him works very compelling, as simple as the story might sound.
The movie has a great atmosphere, that is mostly a mysterious one. This is mainly thanks to the circus folks, who consist out of a wide variety of odd persons of which some have supernatural powers. Every character is unique, mysterious and scary on its own. It gives the movie a creepy atmosphere as well, that certainly is better and more realistic than in most other Hammer studio productions is the case.
But also the 'normal' persons of the movie are interesting and well written. The movie follows quite some characters, who all have their own motivations and personality.
The movie is also well cast, which definitely helps the movie. Robert Tayman is a good and mysterious charismatic vampire count. Especially the circus folks are well cast, with David Prowse as the strongman. Skip Martin as the really creepy dwarf and Lalla Ward as one of the mysterious but sensual murderous twins.
Because of the originality of the story, the movie always remains a surprising one. It doesn't ever get predictable, mainly also because the story is pretty straightforward. Lost of innocent people, like children, are getting killed in a brutal way. The movie also features quite some gory sequences for Hammer standards and some of the usual nudity. Yes, it really is the originality and unpredictability of the story that makes this movie such a great and compelling one.
But yet the movie also always remains entertaining to watch. Guess you have to be a fan, or a person who is familiar with the genre, to really see the entertainment value in this but every person would agree that this is an enjoyable movie to watch, since it obviously is not a 'heavy'- or one to take very serious.
An underrated highly original vampire movie that is a must-see for the fans.
In a long pre-credits sequence,the men of Stettel finally summon up the courage to oppose Count MItterhouse.The vampire has gone too far this time,taking schoolteacher Mueller's wife as his lover and,with her help,luring little Jenny Shult to her death.The townsfolk storm Mitterhouse's castle and stake him.The Count swears revenge:"None of you will live.The town of Stettel will die.Your children will die to give me back my life."Fifteen years later,Stettel is afflicted by plague and cordoned off from the rest of the world.The mysterious "Circus of Nights" arrives in town,come to "steal the pennies from dead men's eyes".Having somehow got through the roadblocks,the circus seems to the townsfolk a welcome distraction from their plight.What they don't realize is that this is the Vampire Circus,come to avenge the Count..."Vampire Circus" is one of the strangest and most erotic vampire flicks from Hammer.The film is well-acted and surprisingly sensual.There is a good amount of blood,so I was pleased.The 'circus' theme was well used;the acrobats and dancers were superb,and the clown was pretty creepy.Give this one a look.8 out of 10.
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