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Askew Review 15

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  (Synapse Films ) 1972. Horror. 90 minutes. Not Rated. Nudity, blood, violence. 
A European village is terrorized by shadowy menace in the form of a vampire.  Count Mitterhaus lures young women to his castle and preys on their blood.  The villagers rise against him and drive a stake through his cold heart while Count Mitterhaus curses the town and their children upon his deathbed, but the horrific story has just begun.  Fifteen years later, an unexplainable deadly plague slowly sweeps through the village causing military roadblocks to quarantine the area and many of the village leaders believe that the curse of Count Mitterhaus has come upon them.  When all seems lost to the village, a circus arrives to help cheer the gloomy spirits of the village folk, but the circus is just a front for a group of vampires who wish to fulfill Count Mitterhaus's curse. 
Being in the late stages of Hammer Horror Films' popularity downfall,
Vampire Circus proved that Gothic horror still had bite!  All the elements of horror Gothicism are there within the scenes:  the castle upon the hill, the crude and mysterious nature of the vampires and, of course, the country side setting and villagers’ attire of the time period.  When the blood wells of Dracula had run bone dry, a more extravagant and riskier story had branched out in its stead.  Vampire Circus has bold undertones to it that would even frighten Chris Hansen; the perverse nature of pedophilia are uncomfortably placed throughout the plot as children are being nearly and seductively victimized by vampires.  In one particular scene after Count Mitterhaus has just murdered a young girl, he turns to his entranced female slave and gets down and dirty with her suggesting that killing children turns him on like no other.  Vampire Circus obtains much of the 70's culture that is well mixed with Hammer's 50's and 60's conventional style; the hallucinogenic scenes fit truly with the bright colors of Hammer Horror resulting in a psychedelic vampire trip that one can never forget.  However, there does seem to be something missing from Vampire Circus.  Perhaps, the presence of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are sorely missed, but the Robert Young film has numerously well versed character actors such as David Prowse whom would later become Darth Vader in Star Wars, Anthony Corlan and Adrienne Corri who have worked with Hammer numerous of times. - Steven Lewis





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