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Strong contender for the most underrated vampire movie of all time!
Infofreak20 September 2002
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.
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A freaky and unique Vampire film
spacemonkey_fg10 June 2005
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 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
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Great Vampire Flick!
grantch10 April 2004
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!
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Extremely creepy and vastly underrated Hammer film
Coventry16 August 2004
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 before… 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 characters.

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!
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One of the best vampire movies of all time
evilskip29 September 1999
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...
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Interesting, unusual vampire flick.
hu67527 November 2007
An small village somewhere in Europe, where the villagers can't leave their small town. Because of the recent plague, then an mysterious group of circus people (Lead by Adrienne Corri) are coming to this village to bring happiness and joy to make them forgot the plague. But they are there to bring misery and murder instead. Since this carnival people are actually vampires (even the animals are vampires and could transforms to human begins!) getting their revenge of their master Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) got staked in the heart 15 years ago. Which their master, they were killed by the villagers and now this vampires are trying to kill all the woman and children. So, their master could comeback to life.

Directed by Robert Young (Splitting Heirs) made an fascinating vampire horror movie, despite its poor production values. But this movie has some light erotic moments and some arresting scenes as well. It is also amusing Tongue in Cheek as well. But the British cast are good here and actually well written also. But i felt, there's something missing in the movie. But it's satisfying enough and die-hard fans of the famous "Hammer" production will enjoy this. David Prowse, who plays "The Strongman" in the movie. Prowse is best known for playing "Darth Vader" in the suit in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. (*** ½/*****).
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Mitterhaus looks (disurbingly) more human than Undead
drdm12341 January 2005
Warning: 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!
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much blood and nudity
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.
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Good and original vampire movie from Hammer Film Productions and Rank Organisation
ma-cortes20 March 2012
In Nineteenth Century Europe , at a Servian little town called Schtettle and surroundings have been committed several murders and neighbours think the guilty seems to be the count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) . When professor Albert Muller (Laurence Payne) watches how his wife Anna and daughter go into a castle , townsfolk (Thorley Walters , among others) enter to rescue them . They get to kill the sinister vampire count but he promises a grisly curse . Fifteen years later the bloodsucker's curse is carried out on descendants (John Moulder-Brown , Lynne Frederick) . Schtettle (same place from 'Twins of evil') people are dieing for strange illness and the place is quarantined . A village is at first relieved when a circus breaks through the quarantine to take the local's minds off the plague . Only the ¨Circus of nights¨ (Adrienne Corri , Anthony Corlan , David Prowse) passes the limits to bring happiness and joy . The circus appears in the isolated location , but early instead of bringing fun and amusement , the circus brings only misery , mutilation and death . ¨The circus has various animals and attractions as 'Hall of Mirrors', and 'Mirror of life' . It seems all the members are bloodsuckers who have the unique ability to become themselves into animals . They intend to take vendetta on the village , whose inhabitants murdered their ancestor several years formerly .

This vampire film contains thrills , chills , suspense , creepy events and is quite entertaining . From important production companies as ¨Rank¨ and ¨Hammer Films¨ that took two plots , one about an eerie circus and the other about bloodsucker depredations and cobbled them together enough well . There are some fine scenes , as the dancing of the panther woman and and other fantastic ones as the deeds in a Hall of Mirrors . Enjoyable performance for all casting , Adrienne Corri as a circus ringmaster , she subsequently worked in 'Clockwork orange' ; Anthony Corlan as a panther man , he has a long career as Anthony Higgings ; Thorley Walters , a Hammer usual ; Lynne Frederick who married and inherited to Peter Sellers , though she died early ; David Prowse as a strongman , he posteriorly became famous as Darth Vader's Star Wars . Colorful cinematography by Grant , made at Pinewood studios , Shepperton , London , England . Creepy and frightening musical score by David Whitaker .

The motion picture produced by Michael Carreras is well directed by Robert W. Young who has a mediocre career with average titles as ¨Hostage¨ , ¨Scandalous ¨, The world is full of married men¨ ; however ¨Vampire circus¨ is a good yarn and results to be his best film . Hammer film buffs will no doubt recognise this film is one of the best of the Terror House .
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Good-bye Ma, I'm off to join the circus!
JoeB1311 January 2014
This is part of Hammer Films later output, when they finally figured out they could put nudity in their movies instead of just implied sexuality What you have is sort of a confused mess of a story where a bunch of villagers kill off their Vampire Count, who swears revenge before they blow up his castle. His human mistress goes off to find his cousin, and for some reason, she gave birth to two vampire twins who are fully grown 15 years later. (One of them played by Doctor Who's Lalla Ward.) So apparently, these villagers don't think anything is strange about a circus showing up and people mysteriously disappearing or dying in their midst.

So some nudity, some gore, some nice Hammer stylistic visuals, but lacking the gravitas that Cushing and Christopher Lee usually brought to these things.
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Look Beyond The Poor Production Values ...
Theo Robertson13 August 2004
... 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
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Great little Hammer entry that gets overlooked.
chuck-2199 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Well, it had been awhile since I last saw this and it needed a fresh view (especially since the last time was on edited television about 30 years ago).

Only four minutes into the flick and we've got "boobies". I knew that I would be entertained on some level after that. My problem with early 70s Hammer though, is that there is a distinct lack of the "wooly mammoth". I'm always finding myself trying to physically lower the cameraman's hand to bless us with a pre LadyBic shot. Ah well. At least we get a whipping/beating of a scantily clad gal and even a quick snip of the whip over a midget clown's buns.

The plot in a nutshell involves an evil Count (who happens to be a vampire, of course) who gets killed off in the beginning by our locals (but not before cursing them with the premature deaths of their children). We then join the town 15 years on where they're suffering: 1)a plague, 2)shooters on the border quarantining them and 3)a circus entering into town that might have something to do with the title. This place makes "Village of the Damned" look like Disney World.

Anyhow, in this circus, we get a clown midget, a naked tigerwoman dancing erotically with a panther guy and a strongman that looks suspiciously like Darth Vader without the costume. Must be because it is Darth Vader (David Prowse) who once again gets to carry a guy here just like he did the year prior in "A Clockwork Orange". Guess he gave it up after this since I don't recall Darth ever doing so.

Anyway, I'll give away no more and give this one a thumbs up equating to a 6.7/10. It's lots of fun and even has a pretty good bit of gore here and there (to go along with the boobies, of course).
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One of the last of the Hammer classics
Harpoon92431 December 2013
I first saw this movie years ago in a chopped-up edited for television form, although I was recently able to see it in what looks like its complete version.

I remember distinctly that Vampire Circus got terrible reviews in the 1970s. Our TV Guide rated it at ZERO stars, but time seems to have softened that harsh criticism, and it's now regarded as a semi-classic.

It's got the great look and feel of classic Hammer horror, and it gets by without Lee, Cushing and the rest. David Prowse makes an appearance as the strongman, one of the few times you see him not heavily made up. For what it's worth, the script is actually a little better than some other more highly regarded horror films.

While it's not the best thing Hammer ever produced, you'll want to see it at least once if you're a fan of those movies.
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One of the best of the Hammer vampire films
preppy-311 October 2008
Vampire Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) is killed by a group of villagers. With his dying breath he curses the village and the men who killed him. Fifteen years later a very strange circus pulls into town led by a gypsy woman (Adrienne Corri). What nobody knows is that the circus is made up of vampires ready to avenge Mitterhaus. Also the vampires can switch from humans to animals! I've been waiting years to see this uncut. The version released in the US is 5 minutes shorter than the British one (it was cut to get a PG). I saw it originally on TV where it was cut even more and the film was virtually incomprehensible. Finally I got a Porteguese DVD of it. The print is pristine, the color is strong and there's plenty of nudity and violence. This only runs 82 minutes but there is no way this is a censored version. My guess is that the film was speeded up slightly. Finally in 2010 an uncut version was released in the US in DVD and Blu-Ray. The transfers are OK if a little too dark.

This is easily one of the best and most unusual Hammer vampire films ever. The scenes of humans changing to animals (and vice versa) are done very well. No elaborate special effects are used but it still works. The violence in this one is strong--people's throats are torn open and blood is pouring out left and right. The sequence where hero John Moulder-Brown and girlfriend Lynne Frederick face two vampires in a chapel is a highlight. Also the opening and closing sequences are fast-moving and full of extreme violence. The movie moves quickly too. There are gaps in the plot but I attribute this to the director not finishing the film in time and Hammer had to just patch together what they had. The acting is good all around but standouts are Corri, Tayman and Anthony Higgins as Emil. Also watch for the future Darth Vadar (David Prowse) as the strongman. He has his shirt off the entire time and doesn't have one line of dialogue! This is basically a good strong vampire film with good acting, strong violence and somewhat explicit sex (all the nudity is female). . I give it an 8.
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Very enjoyable horror film from Hammer.
HumanoidOfFlesh9 June 2005
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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Uncompromising Hammer horror with fairy tale qualities
Libretio9 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Mono

Many years after a dying vampire (Robert Tayman) placed a curse on the inhabitants of a small European village, a terrible plague descends on the area, quickly followed by a travelling circus which turns out to be a hotbed of vengeful vampires.

Though the production was shut down before fledgling director Robert Young (THE WORLD IS FULL OF MARRIED MEN) could shoot all the footage he needed, this exemplary horror film retains a fairy tale quality unlike anything produced by Hammer before or since. Uncompromising in terms of nudity and violence, Judson Kinberg's script adds an element of Magick to the predictable Gothic trappings, allowing the vampires to deceive and seduce their unsuspecting victims, and resulting in a series of extremely powerful sequences - including the murder of two young boys (Barnaby and Roderick Shaw) by an incestuous vampire couple (Robin Sachs and Lalla Ward) who draw them into a magic mirror, a scene which is both beautiful and corrupt, all at the same time. A largely unfamiliar cast - including attractive newcomers John Moulder-Brown (THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED) and Lynne Frederick (SCHIZO) - becomes caught up in the climactic orgy of death and destruction, and the film ends with a bizarre decapitation that closes proceedings on a visual high. A minor classic, worth seeing.
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Very entertaining and surprisingly original as well.
Boba_Fett11381 October 2006
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.

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Funny Vampire Movie From Hammer
claudio_carvalho26 July 2005
When the population of a small village decides to invade the castle of the Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman), who is a vampire that is killing the local children, the villagers and their families are cursed by him. His mistress escapes to the rage of the locals, hides the count's body in a cave and fifteen years later, she returns with a circus owned by the count's cousin and also vampire Emil (Anthony Higgings), to fulfill the count's prophecy and bring him back to life.

"Vampire Circus" is a very reasonable vampire movie from Hammer. There are some nudity, the story is not bad, but John Moulder-Brown and Anthony Higgings are horrible and almost spoil the film. These two ham actors make many situations very funny with their movements, grimaces and expressions. Anyway, I am a fan of Hammer studios and I liked this very low-budget movie, which does not spare the children or other lead characters. There are also some attractive erotic scenes, such as the dance of the tiger-woman, or the initial scene of Count Mitterhaus and his lover in bed. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "O Circo dos Vapiros"("The Vampires Circus")
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Lalla Ward bares something rather interesting...
The_Secretive_Bus1 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Oh well. That was... erm, fun? Though there's not much that's terribly bad about it, there's nothing to raise it above serviceable either.

This is firmly one of those "vampires as lustful sensuous types" sort of films, though most of this is confined to the first 20 or so minutes, which grants us several scenes of rampant vampire sex. Sort of. Well, all right, the beginning has the main vampire Count (who looks disturbingly like a cross between Chris de Burgh and David Essex) rolling about (always seen from the waist up, however) with a nude woman, kissing her here, there and everywhere via cunning mix-n'-fade shots. Their little bit of nookey is however interrupted by the descending of flaming-torch wielding villagers, led by a schoolmaster played by Laurence Payne (looking strangely attractive here though I can't put my finger on why, and probably have no wish to). After the Count dispatches most of them in a vaguely gory manner, he gets staked before he can lay his murderous hands on Thorley Walters (hurrah!) There then follows a "Burn the castle!" bit and a scene where the woman he was having it away with (who's also the schoolmaster's wife - you getting all this?) is whipped and runs back into the castle to hide in a crypt to weep over the body of the vampire Count, who vows that all the children shall die to grant him life, or somesuch bobbins. And all of this is within the first twelve minutes - and then we actually see the opening credits.

Though this might seem all rather pacey and interesting, it isn't really for the duration. Unlike "Twins of Evil" and "Hands of the Ripper", most of the characters are sketchy at best, and acting talent lies in but a handful of them. The premise is a bit ho-hum - vampires try to revive dead lord whilst entertaining populace with a creepy circus - and there's far too much to-ing and fro-ing, with characters running off to do this and that, then arriving back where they were not much better off than they were before (the village doctor decides he should leave to find a cure for the "illness" that is spreading amongst the villagers, asks the mayor for a signed document to let him get past the roadblock, and then forgets about it anyway and decides to ride off and get shot at). The circus acts themselves get a bit wearying after a while, and there's a very odd bit where a man with a whip dances with a naked woman covered in paint, who looks like a lizard tiger... thing, in a way which is curiously erotic, unsettling, and silly all at the same time. The villagers are also a rather thick lot; despite being terrified of vampire legends and the "events that happened fifteen years ago," they happily watch various acrobats flinging themselves through the air, turning into bats, and don't get suspicious at all. And a panther turns into a man with an Alan Davies wig. Hmmm.

Whilst all this malarkey goes on, several bodies are found in the woods, lacerated beyond recognition. Cue the following dialogue: "It must have been the men at the road blocks!" Yes... the men... with their rifles... of course...

"It was those jungle animals from the circus!" "But they're all caged, it couldn't have been them!" Somebody give the boy a slap...

There's a fair bit of violence, including a rather graphic bit where a bloke gets shot in the chest and his back blows out rather nauseatingly. And most of the young women take their tops off at some stage with the unfortunate exception of Ms. Lalla Ward, appearing here as a vampire twin (a twin of evil, you might say, ha ha), baring her fangs (hence my cunning summary title - ho ho ho) in what was her first professional acting role after leaving drama school. Despite wearing a terrible dancers costume for much of it, she still looks rather attractive (especially when doing her vampire bit), though sounds oddly dubbed (though she isn't), her voice nothing like the sharp tones of Romana of "Doctor Who" a few years later.

The film runs around in circles for a while, and then ends rather predictably. I can't say too much more as there are some twists to be found and a few rather shocking, yet hilarious, death scenes. However, overall I didn't really enjoy it all that much, and have probably made it seem more interesting than it really is. Still, it has various "Doctor Who" actors (three cast members from "The Leisure Hive" alone, including Lalla Ward) and Dave Prowse as a strongman, so, um... er...

Oh, and there's one bit that really puts the icing on the cake and makes it an all-round bad 'un, though I'll leave a spoiler space, so beware...



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lesser-seen Hammer vampire flick is OK, deserves wider release, but is nothing too special
FieCrier16 February 2005
A woman leads a child into a vampire's home, and her husband rallies the villagers to finally do something about the vampire. They kills the vampire Count, but the vampire swears revenge.

Years later, vampires are mostly forgotten as the village deals with a disease that has them shut off from the rest of the world by roadblocks that shoot at anyone trying to come in or out. A circus arrives "to take the coins from dead men's eyes." "The Circus of Nights! A hundred delights!" shouts the barker/clown little person.

In the circus are male/female psychic twin vampire tumblers who turn into bats in their act (which curiously doesn't revive the villagers' concerns about vampires), a vampire tumbler who can turn into a panther who is the Count's cousin, a gypsy woman, a mute strongman, the little person, a tiger, a monkey, and perhaps a couple others. One act involves a nude bald woman in feline body paint, an odd act for the mixed company with children in this period piece, I thought. There's also a mysterious tent called "The Mirror of Life." Not everyone in the circus is a vampire, but the humans are under the vampires' control. The villagers, of course, don't realize that there are vampires, but we the audience know since the Count mentioned it.

Some people try to leave the town to get medical help, others try to flee but now have the vampires to contend with along with the roadblocks. The vampires prey on the villagers and try to revive the count.

This is a fairly good vampire movie, typical Hammer fare with some nudity, blood and gore, nice colorful sets, and good acting. Nevertheless, it didn't really capture me, perhaps because the story was just too simple and predictable.
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...And the winner for most gratuitous nudity of 1972 goes to...
MartinHafer27 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
By about 1970, the fortunes of Hammer Studios were bleak. Despite a long string of cool horror films, the studio was deeply in debt and appeared ready to fold unless something happened..and fast. So what did they do to try to prevent the inevitable? They sexed up the films! As a result, the previously gory but innocent films were soon peppered with lots of very gratuitous nudity in the hope that these nudie monster films would attract a wider audience. In actuality, my assumption is that it did the opposite and the studio closed its doors soon after this change. Perhaps they should have just considered diversifying into some other genres. Regardless, it's all academic now. I mentioned all this because "Vampire Circus" is one of the best examples of this new Hammer film--one with lots of boobies and a distinctly adult flair. So despite this is it worth seeing? Read on...

The film begins with a long-haired and hip looking male vampire killing a child as his naked girlfriend watches and enjoys the bloodshed. Soon, however, villagers attack and the vampire has his heart pierced with the 'ol wooden stake. The nasty girlfriend remains alive and the dying vampire gives her some instructions and his heart-broken love runs off in response to his request. My question is this....WHY, if she loved him so, didn't she just pull the stake out and bring him back to life?!?! I mean, I've seen this in several other vampire movies...and you'd think she'd give it a try!! However, violating previous vampire movie lore is certainly NOT unusual--and it happens all the time (such as sparkly daytime vampires who drink animal blood in "Twilight").

In the next scene, a traveling circus troop arrives in same small town. After you see them perform the naked green tiger dance (in which an almost completely naked green-painted skull-capped lady performs simulated sex acts on her male partner), you wonder why it wasn't titled "Vampire Sex Circus"! In fact, the whole monster and vampire angle of this film seems almost irrelevant to the circus and the film in its time was probably seen as a soft-core porno film (though by today's standards it's somewhat tame). I am not a total prude, but just felt the horror aspect was all but forgotten. Soon after, bad things naturally start to occur--with the villagers turning up dead--sometimes after having been torn apart by animals--complete with lots of red paint and some cheap looking corpses and mixed body parts. Apparently the old dead vampire is ticked and cousin and his company of sick friends are helping him exact his revenge.

So what's the verdict? Is it worth seeing? Well, if you don't want to see a lot of skin, you should definitely skip this one. As for the rest, it certainly is not as good as the earlier Hammer films and seemed a bit disjoint. It's not a terrible film--just not among their better ones. It definitely falls in the category of "see this one if you've already seen the rest"! I have a few last observations. Perhaps the vampire boss was over-compensating in this film as his fangs were the longest I can recall having seen--even longer than Nosferatu's long buck-teeth. I guess this emphasis on length makes sense in a porno sort of film!! Also, the very young looking Dora was played by Lynne Frederick--last wife of Peter Sellers and later wife of David Frost. She had a rather brief film career and died very young due to substance abuse. Sad.
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A wonderful departure from the usual Hammer vampire film
bensonmum24 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The 1970s are almost universally regarded as the weakest period in Hammer Films' history. Yet as I sit and think about Hammer's output in their last few years, I'm amazed at how many of the movies I genuinely enjoy. Twins of Evil, Blood from the Mummy's Tomb, Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Dracula A.D 1972 (I know I may be alone in rating this one as highly as I do), Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell – all made in the 70s and all solidly entertaining films. Add to that list Vampire Circus. In fact, it might be the best of the bunch.

In a small 19th century Serbian village, Stetl, the locals finally find the courage and band together to put an end to the blood thirsty rule of Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman). Count Mitterhaus, you see, was a vampire (But in a Hammer film, isn't every Count a vampire?). As the stake is driven through the heart and the light is fading, he puts a curse on the village and vows to return and seek his revenge. Fifteen years later, with Stetl beset by a plague so bad that other nearby villages have set-up armed roadblocks to keep the people in, it seems that the Count's curse has come to pass. Just when things look their bleakest, the Circus of Nights comes to town. Looking for a relief from their despair, the townspeople are delighted to have this diversion in their midst and welcome the newcomers. Clowns, dancers, animals, and a strongman - the circus is a success. But when some of the town's locals, including the children, turn up with dead, the circus performers are immediately blamed. Are these innocent circus folk or are they something more sinister with another purpose altogether – like resurrecting the body of Count Mitterhaus?

From the very opening scene where the little girl is led in what seems to be the most innocent manner into a nearby castle only to meet her fate at the hands of the blood-thirsty Count, Vampire Circus gets off to a great start and never really lets up. That opening scene sets the tone of much of what's to come. Honestly, I just loved it. While it starts out innocently enough, it features a rather startling and unexpected conclusion. Robery Tayman's Count Mitterhaus may just be the most fiendish, savage vampire to appear in a Hammer film - and that includes the work of Christopher Lee. Not even the children are safe in Vampire Circus. For example, even though we don't see it, it's implied that a whole school of children are ripped to shreds by Emil's (Anthony Higgins) black panther persona. There's probably as much claret spilled, necks ripped open, and limbs taken off in Vampire Circus as any Hammer film I can think of. But it's not all graphic violence. There's some real atmosphere at work here as well. The whole movie has a creepy sort of vibe to it that really works. The circus is just odd enough to be eerie without going overboard. And I love the liberties Hammer took in Vampire Circus with the traditional vampire lore. Circus performers turning form animal into vampire, humans and vampires living (and loving) together, etc. make Vampire Circus a unique experience. The acting is, for the most part, as good as you'll find in any Hammer film. Even though you won't find any of the big name Hammer stars, Tayman, Higgins, Adrienne Corri, and several others give outstanding performances. Finally, though I've seen some reviewers dismiss the "amateurish" special effects, they really worked quite well for me. Emil's transformation to panther or the twins flying transformations into bats are amazingly well done.

I realize it's not all perfect (I didn't care for Thorley Walters' performance, John Moulder-Brown seemed way too young, and too many scenes were too obviously filmed in a studio), but this is one of my Hammer favorites. Vampire Circus is a real treat.
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Easily Hammer's best vampire film that's sadly all to often overlooked.
poolandrews26 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Vampire Circus is set in a small Eastern Europeon town called Stettel in the early 19th century. The film opens with a shot of the local schoolmaster Professor Albert Meuller (Laurence Payne) sitting on a fallen tree reading a book. His beautiful, and I'm not kidding, wife Anna (Domini Blythe) is playing with a young girl named Jenny Schilt (Jane Darby). They both disappear into the woods. Albert runs after them. Anna leads Jenny to Count Mitterhouse's (Robert Tayman) Castle. Mitterhouse is a vampire who kills Jenny and has sex with Anna. Meanwhile, Albert has since gone back to Stettel and rounded up a posse of torch wielding townspeople, taking charge of the situation is the Burgermeister (Thorley Walters), a man named Hauser (Robin Hunter) and Jenny's Father (John Bown). Together the townspeople storm Mitterhouse's Castle and find Jenny's body with vampire bite marks on her neck. Many lives are lost before Mitterhouse is staked through he heart. Dying, Mitterhouse puts a curse on the town, he says "none of you will live, the town of Stettel will die, your children will die to give me back my life." Anna is dragged outside and given a good beating by the townspeople, until her husband Albert stops them and lets her run off into the woods. Anna goes back to the Castle and drags Mitterhouse's body down into a crypt underneath. With his last dying breath Mitterhouse tells Anna to seek out the 'Circus of Nights' and Emil (Anthony Higgins) will know what to do. Back up top the townspeople set Mitterhouse's Castle on fire. It's now 15 years later, the opening credits have rolled and Mitterhouse's Castle is in total ruins. The town of Stettel is infected with a plague, no one is safe. The surrounding town's have set up roadblocks to prevent the plague spreading any further and anyone trying to leave Stettel will be shot on sight. A Dr. Kersh (Richard Owens) says that if he can make it to the capital he can run proper tests and bring back medicines. The Burgermeister, Hauser, Albert and Schilt are unconvinced and claim it's Mitterhouse's curse, but eventually decide they have no choice. Then they hear a circus rolling into town consisting of a gypsy woman (Adrienne Corri) and her two twins Heinrich (Robin Sachs) and a rather fine looking young lady known as Helga (Lalla Ward), ladies man Emil complete with designer stubble and bright pink shirt, a dwarf called Micheal (Skip Martin), a mute strongman (David Prowse) and a couple of dancers (Milovan and Serena). With the help of his son Anton (John Moulder-Brown) Dr. Kersh makes it past the roadblock safely. Soon after the circus arrives in town Hauser's two young boys, Jon (Roderick Shaw) and Gustav (Barnaby Shaw) are found dead with vampire bite marks on their necks. Next the Burgermeister's daughter Rosa (Christina Paul) is taken and killed. With only Albert's daughter Dora (Lynee Frederick) left, Anton takes it upon himself to protect her and prevent Mitterhouse's curse from being completed. But half the circus are vampire friends of Count Mitterhouse and are determined to fulfil his curse and revive him, and will Dr. Kersh be able to find a cure for the plague and make it back to Stettel while there are still some people left standing? Will Count Mitterhouse come back from the dead? And just exactly who is the mysteriously familiar gypsy woman? Directed by Robert Young this has to be Hammer's best vampire film. The script by Judson Kinberg moves along like a rocket, is never dull or boring and is both entertaining and interesting. This film doesn't feature any of the regular leading stars from most of Hammer's output and all the better for it I say. The acting is OK and all the young ladies in this are real lookers, if you know what I mean. There is a plentiful supply of both sex and gore, something lacking from a lot of Hammer films in my opinion. There are slit throats, decapitations, mutilated torn apart bodies, stakes through hearts and the obligatory bitten necks which leads me to my favourite image from the film. The frankly gorgeous Lalla Ward, well she was gorgeous when she made this all those years ago I'm not too sure how she looks these days, bites someone on the neck. We then get the victims point-of-view shot looking up at Lalla as she moves back, her fangs and mouth covered in blood, it's a shot that only lasts a few seconds but a really cool one all the same, and probably worth mentioning. If I was ever going to be bitten by a vampire I'd want her to look how Lalla Ward does in this scene. The circus itself is a little bit on the lame side, with only three animals. The production design, sets and costumes are all great as you would expect, the film looks very good overall and has a nice atmosphere to it. I really liked this film, it's much better than the Dracula films Hammer was churning out at about the same sort of time. Rcommended to Hammer fans, horror fans and generally anyone as it's pretty good fun and moves along at a nice pace. Definitately one of Hammer's finest.
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It's the original Bloodiest Show on Earth.
Hey_Sweden18 February 2018
"Vampire Circus" tells the story of a village plagued by the curse of a vampire. As the residents are doing away with the evil Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman), he swears that he will "live" again to savage their children. 15 years later, a circus comes to town while a plague of a different sort is ravaging the countryside. It's all connected, of course: most of the performers in this circus are vampires themselves. While the disease spreads, some foolish villagers try to flee, but it's all for nothing. No, these people are going to pay the price.

While it does suffer from a story (by Judson Kinberg) that isn't always terribly coherent or well thought out, "Vampire Circus" is still engaging horror-fantasy from those fine people at Hammer. It does benefit from absolutely intoxicating atmosphere, grandiose music (by David Whitaker), and a merciless body count that includes a number of kids. Its characters are decently defined, whether they are heroes like young Anton (John Moulder-Brown), or completely vile like the Count and his minions (such as Emil (Anthony Higgins) and the malevolent midget clown Michael (Skip Martin)). The special effects are occasionally dodgy, and some of the gore is hilariously tacky, but in general the makeup (by Jill Carpenter) is pretty good, especially on a female performer painted like a tiger.

Once again, Hammer assembles an elegant British cast that plays the material for everything that it's worth. Actors such as Adrienne Corri (as the Gypsy Woman who presides over the circus), Martin, Tayman, and Higgins are clearly relishing their villainous roles. Moulder-Brown is a likeable young hero, and Thorley Walters (as the Burgermeister), Laurence Payne (as Mueller the schoolteacher), Richard Owens (as the brave Dr. Kersh), and Robin Hunter (as Hauser) are all excellent. Lynne Frederick is positively ravishing in the role of Dora. David "Darth Vader" Prowse shows off his incredible physique as the circus' silent strongman.

Showcasing the kind of sex appeal and gore that would mark later entries in Hammers' filmography, "Vampire Circus" isn't a great shocker, but it certainly is fun.

Seven out of 10.
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Vampire Circus
a_baron17 November 2017
"Vampire Circus" has received generally high reviews, but it is really nothing more than a run-of-the-mill horror flick on a subject that has been done to undeath. Having said that, it is worth watching. It begins with a young virgin being lured away by a servant of the undead. Virgin as in too young to even mention the word sex. Once inside the castle, her fate is sealed, but one of the villagers manages with some difficulty to recruit a posse to storm the castle and kill the wicked count. No, not that count.

With his undying breath he curses them all and vows he will return. Fast forward fifteen years, and the circus comes to town. There is a bit more to it than that, but not a lot more. We see the usual themes: mirrors in which the undead don't reflect, crucifixes, skeptics, and a bit of cleavage for those who are more interested in live women than dead men.
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