“The Circus of Nights — a hundred delights!”
When Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) is killed by the villagers of Stetel, he vows to seek revenge. Fifteen years later, a circus of vampires arrives in town and starts killing off the villagers one by one, in an attempt to raise Mitterhaus from the dead.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Carnivals and Circuses
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, the storyline of this “very unusual Hammer horror film set in 19-century Serbia” is hard to follow at times (the “story gets confusing”), but contains countless “artistic flourishes” by director Robert Young, some nifty special effects, and an effective portrayal of small-town life threatened by “outsiders”. Because the transient, freak-filled nature of circuses makes them inherently creepy, the idea of a circus composed of vengeful vampires makes sense in a weird way — indeed, Richard Scheib’s reference to the equally supernatural Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) is an apt one. As Peary writes, the “great use of religious symbolism and visuals… make us question whether we’re witnessing reality or have entered a dream state.”
Note: Fans of Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End will no doubt enjoy seeing the film’s teenage star (John Moulder-Brown) in a radically different role as the town’s young hero.
- Nifty make-up and special effects
No, but it’s recommended.
2 thoughts on “Vampire Circus (1972)”
A must – considering how many pedestrian vampire films are flying around, it’s best to single out the unique ones, and no doubt you’ll agree this one’s unique. As noted, “the idea of a circus composed of vengeful vampires makes sense in a weird way” – it makes a ton of sense, and that’s why ffs should find this of interest.
I wouldn’t say the film is confusing – any more than the average vampire film can be a bit confusing, esp. if the rules change, as the rules in vampire films are apt to do. (By the way, the rules here also include vampires making love without fangs if they wish. As well, the rules also refrain from excluding children as victims; a particularly disturbing element here.)
There are quite a few unusual and memorable touches to be found (i.e., the twins!) – but there is also the odd, unintentionally funny moment, and occasionally one will really have to suspend disbelief (i.e., when the circus people perform certain acts, you’ll have to forget the fact that the townsfolk would actually have to be completely mentally challenged to keep from freaking out over what they see).
That said, this is rather rousing stuff and the last 15 minutes get particularly hectic.
[Watched via Netflix IW.]
A dreamy, erotic, stylish vampire epic with some nice twists on the genre. David Whitaker’s score is a big plus and it has a nice sense of it’s own melodrama and a fairytale quality that’s memorable. One of the better latter day Hammer Horrors.