It’s that ghoulish time of year again, where all the CRaziEs come out and horror fans get to bask in their element; which includes watching horror movies on those brisk October nights. Over the years, yours truly bestowed upon you 13 Halloween Horror movie reviews. Last year, 7 Deadly Horror flicks were put on display. Some were classics! Others were decent. A few were so bad that one had to watch them anyway. This month, 6 Sinful Films are being unearthed to help guide my loyal readers through their tireless search in finding a worthwhile horror flick during the Halloween season. Watch at your own entertainment risk my lovely corpses!
(Note: These reviews will slightly differ from my usual style. All horror movies are selected at random, so some could, and will, blow goats)
The 1970s was an excellent decade for horror flicks. Besides the birth of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, the underground scene – for a lack of a better phrase – was thriving. Especially when compared to the modern products currently found in the genre. Vampire Circus showed up in 1972 and this freak show is worth the price (time) of admission.
Starting out just like all the other classic horror products featuring a famed antagonist (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.) from that generation; the townspeople are storming a castle that they blame for all the disappearances of women & children from their humble 19th century village. They come to learn that the lord of the manor is in fact a master vampire yet they rally together to defeat him. Right before he draws his last breath though, he instills a curse on the town and vows to return for his vengeance.
Jump ahead a few years and an ominous circus rolls into town boasting all the typical unorthodox characters. This talented and entertaining freak show has its own shroud of mystery attached to it; and although the village is happy they are here – since times have been tough thanks to a plague which has left the town quarantined – strange and familiar disappearances begin to occur once again that have the survivors – who took out the resident vampire years ago – wondering if the vampire curse and prophecy is coming to fruition.
Considering the time period when this sucker came out, the continuity of the story is handled quite nicely. And there’s no shortage of gore and/or deaths to take in. While there are a few production struggles found in the editing and pacing, the intrigue of the story along with the setting can have one overlook those flaws. Let’s just say the packaging and tone of this product is similar to an Alice Cooper video from the same decade. In other words: kind of creepy, charismatic, and surprisingly vibrant.
For today’s horror fans, this may come across too campy but that doesn’t seem to be the intent of the piece. The script, despite having a colorful cast of playful characters, is taking itself seriously; leading this to be an entertaining vampire mystery. Minus the mystery of course, for just about every horror veteran who watches this knows where it’s headed. And that’s what we want, though. We’re not looking for innovation in this vampire tale as the majority of us just want the horror fundamentals and/or aesthetics which make-up a decent vamp flick. These particular vampires are glamoring, have monster fangs, and showcase a mesmerizing sexuality to them. And the lady vamps & victims are not shy in showing off the goods (more nudity than you think folks).
Is it scary? Not really. Most vampire flicks that stick to the source material of the literary creature are not going to have jumpy moments since the character is more cunning than vicious; which makes for a more engrossing story by the way. When they do go on the attack here, there is a mild ruthlessness to a few of the kills, though. The atmosphere provides the eerie aura one needs as this story moves forward; complete with the crescendoing horn section via the musical score when something tragic happens. And like many horror pieces, the acting is average at best.
In the end, Vampire Circus is a more than acceptable vampire tale that hearkens back to the old-school delivery of a horror film. There’s death, boobs, an assortment of creatures/characters, and random moments of bad filmmaking. What else could one ask for in a horror flick?
RATING: A Great Horror/Vampire Throwback
Review by Joe Belcastro