Vampire Circus (1972) - Rotten Tomatoes

Vampire Circus (1972)

Vampire Circus (1972)

Vampire Circus




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Vampire Circus Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Though not as widely known as Hammer's popular Dracula and Frankenstein series, this is one of the studio's more stylish and intelligent projects. The tale is set in 17th century Serbia in the tiny burg of Stettel, whose residents live in fear of an encroaching plague. The frightened villagers welcome the arrival of a colorful traveling troupe dubbed "Circus of Nights," unaware that the visiting entertainers pose a far more deadly threat: the entire company is composed of shape-shifting vampires capable of transforming themselves into animals to stalk their prey. The group's leader, the most powerful monster of the bunch, has returned to the village to exact revenge on those who murdered his cousin one hundred years earlier. Less a standard Hammer monster melodrama than a surreal journey through dark fantasy (reminiscent of Jean Rollin's erotic vampire series), with an unexpected (but not entirely inappropriate) surplus of nudity and bloodletting. The film's creepy highlights include the chilling extended prologue and scenes of vampire trapeze performers transforming into bats in mid-leap. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovimore
Rating: PG
Genre: Horror, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: ,
Written By: George Baxt, Judson Kinberg
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox


John Bown
as Schilt
Arnold Locke
as Old Villager
Adrienne Corri
as Gypsy Woman
Thorley Walters
as Burgermeister
John Moulder-Brown
as Anton Kersh
Laurence Payne
as Prof. Mueller
Richard Owens
as Dr. Kersh
Lynne Frederick
as Dora Mueller
Elizabeth Seal
as Gerta Hauser
Domini Blythe
as Anna Mueller
Robert Tayman
as Count Mitterhouse
Robin Sachs
as Heinrich
Skip Martin
as Michael
David Prowse
as Strongman
Barnaby Shaw
as Gustav Hauser
as Female Dancer
Sibylla Kay
as Mrs. Schilt
Dorothy Frere
as Grandma Schilt
Sean Hewitt (II)
as First Soldier
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Vampire Circus

Critic Reviews for Vampire Circus

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | August 25, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 10, 2004
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Erotic, grotesque, chilling, bloody, suspenseful, and loaded with doom and gloom atmosphere, this is the kind of experiment in terror that reinvigorates your love of the scary movie artform.

Full Review… | February 4, 2011

Gory, cliched, silly and inventive.

Full Review… | February 2, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Hammer's most elusive Gothic horror movie contains frequent nudity, but its arthouse kinkiness -- its hints of pedophilia, bestiality and incest -- offers a more likely explanation for its limited distribution than its exposed skin.

Full Review… | January 18, 2011
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for Vampire Circus


"Vampire Circus" is, in my opinion one of Hammer's best vampire efforts outside of "Horror of Dracula," and "Dracula, Prince of Darkness." This movie has wonderful atmosphere, rather good special effects for it's day, effective performances, and a good plotline not to mention that classic, lush Hammer cinematography. This is a superior vampire story and it is handled well.

***Spoilers ahead***

The story opens when a man observes his young bride leading a child off toward the castle of Count Rittenhouse, a tyrannical ruler who is feared by all of his subjects. Alarmed, he summons the men of the village and finally persuades them to attack Rittenhouse and free the child. Apparently, this has happened more than once in the village as the men finally overcome their fears and agree to storm the castle. Once inside though, the men find that they have stumbled onto more than they bargained for. Count Rittenhouse is more than just a madman. He is a mad vampire.

A battle ensues in which the men of the village finally get the best of Rittenhouse by staking him in the back. As the vampire lies dying, he pronounces a curse upon the village to the effect that the men who slew him will die, as well as their children, "to give me back my life."

Fifteen years later, the Circus of Nights comes to town featuring a bizzare cast of characters and rather scandalous entertainment. By now the town has fallen under a plague connected with the curse of Count Rittenhouse and is quarantined by its fearful neighbors. The circus has supposedly come to bring life back to the village, although, as time goes on, we see that they have really come to bring death to the village, and life to a certain vampire lying in the ruins of his castle crypt.

If you enjoy Hammer films or just vampire films in general, "Vampire Circus" is a must-see. For those of you who have seen it, it is well worth seeing again, although be warned, if you have never seen the uncut version, you might just be surprised. This movie was made when Hammer was going through its own sexual revolution and there are three scenes in which nudity is a factor although, in my opinion, "Vampire Circus" is not quite the "flesh-fest" production that "The Vampire Lovers" or "Countess Dracula" were.

If you haven't seen this film, it's well worth the time. If you have seen it and don't remember it or you're afraid that it might not be as good as you remember, you've got a real treat coming.

David Ladd

Super Reviewer

Awesome Hammer is awesome.

Steve K

Super Reviewer

One of my favorite Hammer films and possibly one of my favorite vampire moivies.

Robert C

Super Reviewer

Vampire Circus Quotes

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