Sunday, August 3, 2014

Circus of Horrors (1960)

Director: Sidney Hayers

Writer: George Baxt

Composers: Muir Mathieson, Franz Reizenstein

Starring: Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, Donald Pleasence, Jane Hylton, Kennth Griffith, Conrad Phillips, Jack Gwillim, Vanda Hudson, Yvonne Romain, Colette Wilde, William Mervyn, John Merivale, Peter Swanwick, Carla Challoner, Kenny Baker, Walter Gotell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Spectacular Towering Terror! One man's lust...made men into beasts, stripped women of their souls!

Plot: 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.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Good circus horror/thriller.  Diffring is a little less stiff than usual and does a fine job as the sinister Dr. Schuler.  The rest of the cast does a great job, too.  Of course it helps that they're British 'cause, you know, they invented acting and they're damn good at it.  Had this been made here in the States it wouldn't have been is good, I'm sure.  There are some good suspense scenes, too, which I didn't expect.  It's one of director Hayers' first films and it would only be a couple more years before he helmed the excellent BURN, WITCH, BURN (1962).  I was really excited about Donald Pleasance in this but his role is all too brief.  I love that guy.  If you're paying attention you'll see Walter Gotell sitting prominently in the crowd and Kenny Baker performing in the circus.  The production values are excellent and they make great use out of the circus set.  I'm really impressed.  I'd probably watch it again if there weren't thousands of movies that I'd like to give a shot first.  So far it's the best circus horror movie I've seen and I should know, I've seen two.  The Anchor Bay DVD offers a gorgeous widescreen print.  The menus look fantastic, too, not that that means anything.  Sadly the only extras are a trailer, TV spots, still gallery (sadly it's just images from the film), posters and advertising and a text Anton Diffring bio.  The advertising images are excellent and is the best extra on the disc.  It includes stuff like the usual movie posters from around the world but also promotion materials, books and the comic book, the sheet music for "Look For a Star", lobby cards and more.  They made specially printed balloons for this thing.  I want one!

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