45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2008
Perhaps Hammer Films most under appreciated gem - probably due to the hack editing job 20th Century Fox did on the film for it's US release. Inarguably one of the ten best vampire films ever made, it is presented here with every graphic frame of horror and nudity intact. Until the US rights holder (presumably MGM) releases a version (and assuming they do it right) this import version from Brazil will please even the more discriminating horror film collectors. The 16x9 transfer is pleasing though sometimes a little dark. Remember (in spite of the graphic content that was ahead of it's time) this movie was released in 1971. This is as good as I have ever seen VAMPIRE CIRCUS look on video. The packaging and menu are in Portuguese but the disc - by default in fact - plays in English and without subtitles. If you have been looking for this film or are a fan of Hammer Horror - or horror/vampire films in general - you should add this treasure to your collection without hesitation.
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2010
Wanted to post a review letting other Hammer fans know that VC from Synapse is a great piece to add to the collection. I've only looked at the blu-ray so far, but the transfer is very, very good -- colorful, detailed, wonderfully done -- much better than the Spanish Carlton/Filmax transfer I've had for a while (beyond the obvious improvement to the HD format). The extras are fun too -- good background on Hammer and the movie itself from Ted Newsom, Phil Nutman, Joe Dante and Tim Lucas (as well as some David Prowse involvement). This also includes a second audio track of the music and sound effects. In regards to the movie itself, this is one of Hammer's best post-1970 films. VC reminds me of an adult fairy tale with good scares and interesting metaphorical themes (which really aren't far off from what the original fairy tales often included). Is it top-tier Hammer? No, but it is much better than some of their output from any era of Hammer. A great "last gasp" from a studio trying to find its way in a changing cinematic climate. Good Hammer film, great HD release from Synapse. Recommended!
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
VAMPIRE CIRCUS is another great early 70's title from Hammer Productions. Featuring a gangbusters cast and a solid story premise from screenwriter Judson Kinberg (based on the story by Wilbur Stark), it's one of the most hypnotic vampire tales you'll ever encounter.
In a small Serbian village, the townsfolk murder evil vampire Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) after it's discovered he has been killing local children with the help of the schoolmaster's wife (Domini Blythe). Several years later, a troupe of circus entertainers arrive in the village, and the cycle of horror starts once more. Out to avenge the death of Mitterhaus, his distant cousin Emil (Anthony Higgins) and a mysterious gypsy maiden (Adrienne Corri) have a score to settle. But why does it involve innocent Dora (Lynne Frederick)?
Shape-shifting vampires and colourful circus illusions make VAMPIRE CIRCUS one of the bright spots at a time when Hammer Studios was starting to struggle in it's attempts to maintain popularity. Anthony Higgins makes for one helluva sexy vampire; he's matched every step of the way by Adrienne Corri. Fans of the unappreciated Lynne Frederick (sadly more associated by being the last Mrs Peter Sellers than by her film work) will adore her as the virginal heroine Dora. A mop-haired John Moulder Brown, costumed in such a way that makes him resemble Roman Polanski circa. "The Fearless Vampire Killers", is an unlikely hero but pairs well with Ms Frederick.
If you love Hammer movies, you'll definitely like VAMPIRE CIRCUS. It's hard to find at the moment, but worth the effort.
37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Not sure what James is talking about...worst vampire movie ever made? Well he gives "Scorpion King 2" a five-star rating so I'll venture a guess he's too young to remember when movies didn't have to be special effects extravaganzas to be considered great entertainment.
Vampire Circus is as solid a horror thriller as you are likely to find and deserves it's reputation as one of the best and - up to this point - most obscure Hammer films. It is well thought out with interweaving plot lines. The characters are believable and well portrayed. I won't lay out the story as it's already been done here. It manages to be an intelligent film (you actually have to pay attention to follow the story) without sacrificing graphic, horrific elements. Definitely not for kiddies...apparently like James! (Just kidding, Dude!)
This review is based solely on the film itself as I haven't seen the Synapse disc yet.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"Vampire Circus" is a non-stop, action packed film from Hammer Productions. This gothic horror masterpiece has a high body count, complex plot, plenty of gore, and a dash of nudity. Count Mitterhaus, a vampire, vows revenge when the villagers of Schtettle stake him for murdering their children. Fifteen years later, a mysterious plague strikes the village which is quarantined. Somehow, the "Circus of Nights" is able to make it through the barricades. This circus consists of some very diabolical vampires, relatives of Mitterhaus, who have a total disregard for human life, even the lives of the humans who aid them. Furthermore, these are no ordinary vampires; they are shape shifters with the power to morph into bats, black panthers, etc.
The acting is superb from all the leads, including John Moulder-Brown of "The House That Screamed," Lynne Frederick of "Schizo," and David Prowse who is the circus strongman. Prowse was the man behind the mask of Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. The sets and costumes are elaborate and gorgeous. "Vampire Circus" is no low budget production; a lot of money was spent on bringing it to life.
The audio and video of this DVD from LW Editora Ltd., Brasil, are excellent. The quality is as good as any I've seen from Anchor Bay, Blue Underground, MGM, or Paramount. The menu is easy to operate; much easier than I had thought. This DVD of one of the greatest Hammer Productions is well worth the purchase. Who knows when or if it will ever be released in the United States. It is highly recommended for anyone who craves gothic and/or vampire horror, or collects films made by Hammer Productions.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Well, you've been reading about it for almost a year and now Synapse Films have delivered what they promised with their 100th release of Hammer Film's excellent Horror opus 'VAMPIRE CIRCUS'. I first saw it when it was released on a double bill with 'COUNTESS DRACULA' back in the early seventies and about 15 years ago, I got a VHS copy of a Japanese laser disc which was a bit faded. Throw away every copy of this film that you had. I have not taken the BLU-RAY jump as of yet so I viewed the DVD version and its incredible with beautiful rich colors exploding off the screen which probably looks better than its theatrical release. It is also uncut and in widescreen format to enjoy the wonderful images of Moray Grant's photography. It includes a great documentary on the making of the film and an enjoyable featurette on other circus horror films. Enough said, you've read about it and now click the add to cart button and enjoy Hammers most unusual, blood soaked rarity . Synapse is promising 'TWINS OF EVIL' and 'HANDS OF THE RIPPER' later this new year. Horror and Hammer fans have something to look forward to. Bravo, Synapse Films.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2011
Vampire Circus (1972) is an excellent Hammer horror film that mixes vampires and a circus. It stars Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, Anthony Higgins, and David Prowse (Darth Vader in Star Wars episodes IV, V, and VI).
Basically, the movie takes place in an Austrian village in the 19th century. A little girl is killed by a vampire, Count Mitterhaus. The villagers kill this vampire in revenge for killing the girl. Years later this village suffers from the ravages of the plague. Some fifteen years later, a circus comes to town which actually consists of vampires. That's all I want to say about the plot so I don't spoil everything for you. Watch to find out what happens.
This movie has lots of blood and gore, some full nudity, and some decent special effects for a low budget Hammer movie. The circus atmosphere and props are pretty decent, as are the costumes. The circus animals are amazing and appear to be well trained. Watch for the dancing tiger woman. She's a sight to see. This movie possesses a sort of dark fairy tale atmosphere mixed with pure circus horror. The movie has that classic low budget Hammer look and feel to it - somewhat cheaply made, but the cheapness is made up for with the story, attitude, and scariness.
This DVD package actually contains two DVDs - a regular DVD and a Blu-Ray DVD. The extras include a documentary called The Bloodiest Show On Earth: Making Vampire Circus, a featurette called Gallery Of Grotesqueries: A Brief History Of Circus Horrors, a featurette called Visiting The House Of Hammer: Britain's Legendary Horror Magazine, a motion comic book called Vampire Circus: Motion Comic Book, a still and poster gallery, and the theatrical trailer.
I recommend this movie because it's one of the better Hammer films and is a film that ranks pretty high on the all-time list of best vampire flicks in movie history, according to many fans.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
That target audience being the "old school"/ Hammer horror fan. No over utilized CGI-cartoon sorry excuse for special effects here, no this is the real deal.Sure the effects, at times, look kinda hokey.Yes, the pacing may seem a little slow with all that talking, compared to todays ear-drum destroying cacophany of explosions,screaming and grunting slang that passes for dialogue.But what you DO get is a pretty interesting twist on the vampire genre with this travelling troup of shape shifting blood suckers out for revenge . The film sure is "stronger" (some nudity and gore) than I had remembered,not a bad thing! I can heartily recommend this to ANY self respecting horror film fan. Sure beats some remake of a film that wasnt that good in the first place,starring whichever cutey-face happens to be the in-flavor this month...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
As a long time fan of Hammer Films, this was one of their few later movies that I missed the first time around (HANDS OF THE RIPPER was another). I guess it never came to a drive-in near me. After 1970 I only saw Hammer Films at the drive-ins which I now know was because they had lost their major American distributors and rarely played first run houses outside of the big cities. I never caught it on cable and after having heard about it for years I finally obtained an all region DVD copy from Asia which looked like it was copied from a worn drive-in print but at least I finally got to see it. It is truly unlike any other Hammer film from that time thanks to the long prelude, surreal circus settings, and the fact that many of the victims are children. Now Synapse Films, with this Blu ray/DVD combo release, has rectified the situation by presenting the film the way it originally appeared along with a ton of bonus features.
The first thing I noticed was the improved picture quality and color saturation which made for an especially vivid viewing experience. Next up was the fact that this version was 4 minutes longer (87 vs 83) than my Asian copy. While there don't appear to be any missing scenes, some of them such as the invisible voices at the circus, the demonic panther attack, and the silhouette sequence run longer and make more sense. I had heard that Hammer had run out of time and money with only about 75% of the planned film completed but through clever editing and skillful transitions it hangs together very well. The film has old favorites Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, and David Prowse (6 years before Darth Vader) to give it added appeal. I also finally figured out where I had seen Emil, the panther man, before. Here he's billed as Anthony Corlan but many years later he would play Moriarty in YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES as Anthony Higgins.
If you are familiar with the post-Anthony Hinds Hammer Films (the 1970s) such as the Karnstein trilogy or HANDS OF THE RIPPER then you know what to expect. More flesh, more violence, and a lot more Kensington Gore (Hammer's fake blood mixture). THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and COUNTESS DRACULA have already been issued as a quality double bill on Region 1 DVD. Now it's time for TWINS OF EVIL and HANDS OF THE RIPPER to join VAMPIRE CIRCUS in quality American releases. Synapse Films says nothing about it on their website so hopefully somebody will do the honors soon. Now that the ressurected Hammer Films has released LET ME IN (to critical raves but poor U.S. box office) and the soon to be released WOMAN IN BLACK with Daniel Radcliffe, it's time to consolidate the back catalogue and offer an officially sanctioned Hammer Films collection, everything from THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT through the 1979 remake of THE LADY VANISHES.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2011
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This 1972 movie, maybe the last vampire film Hammer Studios did, is stunning on many levels. A Thank You card should be sent to Synapse Films for releasing it to North America. The transfer is very good. The special features are really SPECIAL and informative.
I had read a little about Vampire Circus in horror fan magazines before finally viewing an edited version on US television. Even in it's trimmed state Vampire Circus was a visual, emotional and visceral experience. Along with the obvious new freedom of showing more sex and violence, films of the early 70s questioned authority and left moral quandaries in the viewers head. Hammer followed this trend with Twins of Evil and Vampire Circus. In both movies the persecuted towns people are no longer innocent victims. Twins of Evil showed Peter Cushings Brotherhood witch burners/vampire killers just as evil as the vampiric Count Karnstein. The difference is they were misguided but Karnstein knew exactly what he was doing.
The villagers in Vampire Circus are basically self centered cowards who would almost sacrifice their children than confront a powerful nobleman. That the undead bloodsuckers in Vampire Circus seem to prefer killing children over adults is jaw dropping. Even in 1931s pre-Code Frankenstein Boris Karloff's monster only threw the little girl in the lake because he thought she would float like a flower. These undead are truly perverse and frightening. In 2011, this pedophilic plot does accomplish what most Hammer films fail at, it makes you queazy and really care about the victims. That this is exploitive is unquestionable. However, the artistry of this well made film in showing the hypocricy of normal people, makes one take the film seriously as a legitimate examination of our societies values.
The movie as a whole is very exciting. The first 12 minutes have so much intrigue and action the main body of the film almost seems like a sequel, but a GOOD sequel. Both Robert Tayman as lead vampire Count Mitterhaus and Anthony Corlin as his cousin Emil, who fulfils the Counts curse on the villagers, are handsome, sensual and menicing at the same time. Classic Hammer director Terrance Fisher stated in making Horror of Dracula with Christpher Lee in 1958 that he wanted to show the attractiveness of Evil. Vampire Circus director Robert Young definitely learned from the master.
A humerious side note, Cousin Emil seems downright stoned in parts. Hey, it was the 70s, and the deadpan expressions and crazed eye rollings could just as easily fit an undead monster who enjoys his work, as a young, long haired actor experiementing and enjoying the hedonistic decade. Everyone in the movie is perfectly cast. See this one.