Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Vampire Circus (4 Stars)

This is one of the more experimental vampire films made by Hammer Film Studios. It was filmed in 1972, and like the Karnstein Trilogy of 1970-1971 it doesn't feature Count Dracula. It takes place in a town called Schtettel, presumably in Germany, though it might also be in Romania. The villagers live in fear of Count Mitterhaus, who they suspect of being a vampire and stealing their children. When a man sees his daughter being lured into the castle he calls together the villagers, and they break into the castle to kill him. As the count lies dying he utters a curse that everyone responsible for his death must die to bring him back to life.

15 years later Schtettel is under quarantine because of a mysterious illness. Nevertheless, a circus somehow avoids the roadblocks and enters the village. Most of the villagers enjoy the circus -- "The circus is the one thing that keeps people from brooding about death and disease" -- but there are a few who suspect something sinister. One by one the people responsible for the Count's death, as well as their children, die under mysterious circumstances.

This is a very enjoyable film. I'm sure that anyone who likes the old horror films will like it. It has less of a gothic atmosphere to it than most of the Hammer horror films, but that doesn't detract from its quality.

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