Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Vampire Circus"(1972)d/Robert Young

I'd like to take a moment to thank the frequent visitors here at our wretched rectory of reviews,as you,my fiendish friends,are what keeps the haunted boat afloat in the moat!Ever gaining in popularity, and with this past week,the site enjoyed its most successful yet,and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.Bravo.You keep reading,I'll keep writing,trying to keep the movies diverse and interesting enough along the way,and keeping the lull in entries to a bare minimum.And don't hate me 'cuz I'm beautiful,just hate me all the more.
Tonight's entry is both a rare treat,and one of the finer examples of Hammer vampire films, despite the downward spiral the studio was suffering in the 1970's.A highly enjoyable and original romp through the familiar bloodsucker fare of the day,packed full of the stuff Hammer movies are made of:red vino on tap,bountiful bare bobblers,and susperstitious peasants a' plenty,but what sends this flick acrobatically flipping over its competition is a surprisingly complex script,a fresh take that reinvents some of the nosferatu's supernatural abilities,and a menacingly good antagonist in Robert Tayman's Count Mitterhaus,who's been frequently argued,makes for a better villain than even Christopher Lee's Count Dracula himself!Strong words,indeed.Regardless of who your favorite Hammer vampire might be, Circus is a delightfully strange ride you'll want to take over and over again.
What the fuck are you laughing at,Shorty?
The people of Schettel,led by the schoolteacher,Mueller(Laurence Payne),barge into Mitterhaus Castle,to find the Count has not only sucked one of their children drier than a sandbox,but has also exchanged lust for lust with Mueller's wife who's hanging out knickerless,fangs for phallus.Kill the townspeople's kids,Mitterhouse,if you will,but never turn one of the men into a cuckold!They manage to stake the womanizing wurdulak,but not before the fiesty blooddrinker eighty-sixes several of them,in swashbuckling fashion,spitting a curse upon Schettel's children from his dying lips.The men take their belts off and teach Mrs. Mueller a lengthy leather-based lesson, burning the castle to the ground,and leaving her to drag the staked Count to the safety of the catacombs below.And all this before the credits even roll,hot damn!Fifteen years later,the sleepy little town isn't faring much better,what with the plague and all.The local doctor bravely rides off into the forest in search of medicine,past the armed men who guard against any potential carriers escaping the infected city limits,certain that the superstitions of vampires and their folklore are just that.Like any town beset with plague buboes and corpses by the wheelbarrowful,the people look for happiness that only a small travelling circus full of gypsy vampires can provide.Wouldn't you know it!
Cat Scratch Fever was never like this!
While the people marvel at erotic dance acts,and creepy midget clowns yukking it up with mute strongmen(David "Darth Vader" Prowse),never stopping to wonder how their jungle animals transform into flamboyant gypsies in pink shirts while in mid-air,or how the twin aerial acrobats change from human to bat back to human during their act(I might ponder the possibility these people are not what they seem,at least for a second!),their children are systematically targeted for blood revenge,with teen bobblers tumbling out,blood spurting every which way,and entire families torn to pieces by were-panthers in the forest!It seems the gypsy woman(Adrienne Corri) who heads the carnal carnival is really Mueller's wife(!),and her pink-shirted shapeshifting gypo partner,Emil,is blood-related to Mitterhaus!The townsfolk, enraged by the missing children, do the sensible thing:shoot the chimpanzee and tiger,and smash the creepy little midget clown's oversized head into a wall repeatedly(!!Hey,that's what I'd do,too.)!It all leads to a bloody and satisfying fight to the finish in Mitterhaus' catacombs,where Mueller unstakes the Count to stake Emil as he himself is bitten and killed,and his daughter's boyfriend uses a crossbow string to behead the awakened vampire(!!!)and save the day,amidst a floor full of bloody victims.Now that's entertainment.
"Use your imagination,Mitterhaus!Cross...crossbow...don't split hairs!"
Corri was the rape victim in A Clockwork Orange the year before,moving on to act in Madhouse(1974) and appear in a few Doctor Who episodes later on down the road.Corlan/Higgins did Flavia the Heretic,a host of movies, and a great deal of telly work for the BBC,while Tayman was last seen in The Stud(1978) opposite Joan Collins.Director Young did the excellent "Charlie Boy" episode of Hammer House of Horror,and continues to direct today.Hard to find in America for a number of years,in any format,if a copy of Circus materializes in your presence,reach for it immediately,as it'll become an instant favorite of yours.Personally,between this entry and Captain Kronos,I'm not sure which is my favorite Hammer vampire flick,as they're surely one and two,one way or the other.As the organ grinder comes to a halt and the torches are extinguished,I tip my top(Wop)hat three times for this carnival of coagulants,and bid you adieu for now.
Emil(Anthony Corlan),a flamboyant gypsy were-panther/vampire, overemoting as he feeds.


Nigel M said...

Love this one, but its been a while since I ve seen it. This and Captain Kronos are prety much my favourites and both incidentally worthy of repeat viewing.

I am sure Vampire Circus had an influence on this-

beedubelhue said...

Hey Nige,

Is "Vampire Circus" available as a region 2 dvd in Britain? I scored myself a bootleg disc,but this is one of those films where I'd enjoy extras,trailers,etc, if possible.This and Kronos at the top of my list too, mate!

Nigel M said...

Not sure if this one is on dvd as a single release- though should be in the hammer box set that was released a few years back. I used to catch this one on tv from time to time but it don't seem to get airing there days.

not sure on the extras and so on but I am sure there is an extras rich version out there somewhere

beedubelhue said...

Thanks for the info,mate,we'll have to meet up on messenger and discuss your Leone revelations when schedule allows.The weather 'round here mirrors his western masterpiece,going from good to bad to downright ugly the last few days!

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viagra online said...

I saw this movie and of course It was on 70s and the effects weren't so good but I have to recognize I get scare in some parts but the movie it's very funny, there's a lot of old funny movies that people should watch.
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