Friday, May 2, 2014

Vampire Circus, The Count vs. The Gold Digger

1972's "Vampire Circus" might have been the beginning of the end for Hammer Films.  Bright red blood, beautiful women, intellectual heroes, and campy fun were the trademarks of Hammer vampire movies.  Then came the 1970s, and the eroticism present in these films took on a more risque flavor.  However much movie makers claimed they were giving the customer what they wanted, the customer seemed to lose interest in Hammer at this time.  In 2014, "Vampire Circus" may be the best vampire film that you have never seen.
  The plot:  Albert Mueller (Laurence Payne), while reading in the woods, witnesses his wife lure a little girl into Count Mitterhaus' (Robert Tayman) castle.  A few problems here, Mueller's wife is now Mitterhaus' sex slave and the little girl is the Count's dinner.  Oh yes, the Count, of course, is a vampire.  Having had enough of their children being abducted, the townspeople, led by Mueller, storm the castle.  In a bloody battle, the irate citizens apparently kill the Count.  Mueller's wife, as the castle is in flames, runs back into it to be with the Count.  Before he dies, Mitterhaus curses the invaders, swearing vengeance on their children.
15 years later and our little hamlet is enduring more problems.  They have been quarantined.  All roads leading in and out have been roadblocked for fears of the plague.  To their surprise, a mysterious circus arrives.  A gypsy woman, played by Adrienne Corri (Moon Zero Two) pictured above, is the ringmaster and features a black puma which changes into a man, mysterious twins (vampires), a tiger, chimpanzee, acrobats, and an ominous hall of mirrors.  Then people start dying horrible deaths at the hands of vampires and hungry cats of prey.  As the original posse which disposed of Mitterhaus begins dwindling, so do their children.  Mueller must now protect his daughter Dora (Lynne Frederick).  She is pure as the white snow.  Ironically, Dora is portrayed by Ms. Frederick who was the world's most renown gold digger.  She gained her fortune marrying men decades her elder, such as Peter Sellers and David Frost.  Unfortunately she spent too much of that wealth on drugs and alcohol and departed this mortal coil before her 40th birthday.
As the sultry gypsy woman leads her circus in pursuit of dear Dora, Mueller realizes that he must kill all of the vampires. Killing anyone in their way, the vampires devour the children at Mueller's school and abduct Dora. With Mueller pursuing, they all meet at the ruins of Mitterhaus' castle.  Here a bloody final battle will ensue but not before the true identity of the gypsy woman, and the true destiny of the Count  are revealed.  Horrors, overt and implied, are prevalent in this film.  Also, very erotic scenes, including a circus act featuring a man with a whip and a nude snake woman, are included.  Creepy and disturbing, with a generous amount of that classic red Hammer blood, "Vampire Circus" will not disappoint.  Too erotic for 1974? Perhaps.  Hammer's glory would only last another couple of years.  For 2014?  You be the judge.  

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