TITLE: Circus of Horrors
YEAR RELEASED: 1960
DIRECTOR: Sidney Hayers
CAST: Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Donald Pleasence and Yvonne Monlaur
Circus of Horrors 1960 is a textbook example of how to create classic horror, says NIA JONES
There isn’t really much to analyse regarding this little cinematic gem: British-made Circus of Horrors does not have a rich or complex plot, and its outline is repeated throughout the film with plenty of padding either side, it is of course adequate.
Moody, dark and highly entertaining and charming, the old-fashioned circus acts and circus-themed demises are quite interesting, a snapshot of the time and place, the way circuses were once upon a time. This means there is more dialogue than actual horror, peppered with hints of violence and brutality.
Circus of Horrors was made at the very beginning of the 1950s-1960s horror genre revival, an earlier age when things were simpler and horror films didn’t rely on blades, gore and viscera to make you plunge your head under the duvet and retch up your supper.
The performances are solid and well acted, Anton Diffring and Donald Pleasance are true to form, and every actor contributes something unique to the overall pace of this more than decent effort at a horror film.
This is my kind of film; it comes under the umbrella of my own coined term “Manual Horror”. There are two connotations to this term I have created; manual as in using pumps, levers, hydraulics and refrigerated units to bring about horror effects; and manual in the sense of the audiences using their brains to imagine the narrative horror, therefore scaring themselves. You cannot even try to knock these early films due to the groundwork they put in for future film forays into the horror theme.
I would recommend it to any horror film fan; a classic, Circus of Horrors really reminded me of where horror films began.
3 things you didn’t know about Circus of Horrors 1960
- Circus of Horrors 1965 was filmed on location on Clapham Common in London and Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire. The interiors were filmed at Beaconsfield Film Studios.
- Billy Smart’s circus provided the big top and some of the performers as extras.
- The film is considered the third part of Anglo-Amalgamated’s Sadian Trilogy, which focused on sadism, cruely and violence. The other films were Horrors of the Black Museum (1959) and Peeping Tom (1959).