6.2/10
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43 user 30 critic

Circus of Horrors (1960)

Approved | | Horror, Drama | April 1960 (UK)
In 1947 England, a plastic surgeon must beat a hasty retreat to France when one of his patients has ghastly problems with her surgery. Once there, he operates on a circus owner's daughter, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Jane Hylton ...
Kenneth Griffith ...
...
...
Vanda Hudson ...
Magda von Meck
...
Colette Wilde ...
William Mervyn ...
Doctor Morley
John Merivale ...
Edward Finsbury
Peter Swanwick ...
German Police Inspector Knopf
Carla Challoner ...
Nicole Vanet - Child
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Storyline

In 1947 England, a plastic surgeon must beat a hasty retreat to France when one of his patients has ghastly problems with her surgery. Once there, he operates on a circus owner's daughter, deformed by bombs from the war. Later he becomes the owner of the circus, and continues transforming disfigured women into the beautiful stars of his show. The police and a nosy reporter (as well as Scotland Yard) become interested when the women who want out of the circus begin dying in freak accidents, and they begin suspecting the good doctor is responsible. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

For ever stranger thrills...he turned the greatest show on earth into a... See more »

Genres:

Horror | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

April 1960 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Phantom of the Circus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The footage of the trapeze act featured in the film (complete with inter-cuts of audience reaction) is identical to that in 'John Moxey''s 'Circus of Fear (1966)' See more »

Goofs

When Shuler is attacked by the gorilla, it clearly shows the gorilla's claw mauling the left side of Shuler's face. Later, only the right side of Shuler's face show any signs of the attack.

This is not true. The only time (1:21:51) where we see the Right face scarred is when he is looking at itself in a double mirror. All the other shots of Schuler have the scars on the left cheek. All of the previous goof detail is false. What could be added. This is false, false. That's all. How long should the explanation be. We always see the scars on the correct place, except in this mirror. Should I write a novel to fill the longer explanation ? See more »

Quotes

Supt. Andrews: Williams, put the kettle on and bring in a file named Rossiter.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Fantastic Fantasy Fright-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

The Liberty Bell
(uncredited)
Music by John Philip Sousa
Arranged by Muir Mathieson
Played during the opening credits and at the beginning of the Berlin sequence
Also played at the end of the knife-throwing act
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User Reviews

 
Horrifying, brutal and effective
9 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

After the fantastic opening sequence in which a young woman smashes all the mirrors in her room before revealing herself to have horrible facial scars, you just know you're in for a treat, and this movie certainly doesn't disappoint!

The story follows Doctor Rossiter, a plastic surgeon that finds he has to flee England after an operation on a young woman went horribly wrong. He then goes to, as the film says, 'somewhere in France', where, after certain events transpire, he becomes the owner of a French circus. He uses this circus as a cover so he can use his anxious hands to operate on disfigured women so he can put them into his circus show as beautiful performers. He dubs the circus "the circus of beauty", but after several of his performers die in horrible "accidents", it later becomes the "The Jinx Circus", and attracts attention from the local police authorities…

Anton Diffring looks suitably evil as the plastic surgeon that uses his skills to change the faces of women with scars to make them beautiful performers in his circus. His character is portrayed as being malevolent and inhumane throughout the film, as all he cares for is himself and his work, which is shown best by the way he treats the love given to him by his associate's sister, which makes it hard for the audience to feel anything at all for him. Even when he displays human emotion by falling in love with one of patients, his character is still shown in a bad light and we are still made to hate him. This, however, is a definite asset to the movie as it makes the audience feel contempt for the man, and that pays off immensely towards the ending, which is rich with poetic justice. Had the character have had a prevalent human element, this ending would not have worked nearly as well.

The plotting throughout the film is thrilling and suspenseful, certain scenes in particular such as the sequence where the young girl has her bandages removed and the knife throwing scenes are positively nail biting. The film captures the imagination and keeps the viewer fully entertained throughout it's running time without getting boring for a second. The film also manages to do a thing that few films really manage, and that is that it's actually quite horrifying. The scars shown on the faces of his victims are horrible, but only horrible enough so they're still believable. Had the film gone over the top in the make up department, it could have lead to the scars looking silly and therefore unbelievable, but it's all spot on. One of my favourite things about this movie is the act done by the 'death defying woman of the air', Elissa Caro; the act in itself is impressive, but when blended with a pop song and cheers from the audience it gives it a haunting and atmospheric feel and the outcome of that is really quite beautiful.

Circus of Horrors is without a doubt one of the finest British horror films ever made, and therefore it is definitely recommended viewing.


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