A high flesh/gore quotient and a strangely well-connected cast contribute to one of Hammer’s more stylish seventies releases. Supplementing the horror with bouts of melodrama and fantasy, it’s a decent slice of bloody nonsense.
A spectacular 12- minute intro establishes both plot and tone. Imperious vampire aristocrat Count Mitterhaus (Tayman) forces himself on a reluctant young girl before being staked to death by angry villagers, cursing the villagers before he goes.
Fifteen years later the exotic Circus of the Night arrives in town, complete with dwarf, panther and naked female snake charmer. But the performers are vampires out to avenge the Count and their uninhibited sexuality ensnares the plague-ravaged residents.
Robert Young’s speedy direction has acrobats turning into bats mid-leap, a series of shape-shifting sequences and some spectacular incidents of impalement. It’s a festival of schlock in Hammer’s slightly hysterical style but the inventive mix of sauce and slaughter makes it one of the House’s most entertaining releases.
Adrienne Corri as Gypsy Woman
Thorley Walters as Burgermeister
Anthony Higgins as Emil
John Moulder-Brown as Anton Kersh
Laurence Payne as Prof. Albert Mueller
Richard Owens as Dr. Kersh
Lynne Frederick as Dora Mueller
Skip Martin as Michael
David Prowse as Strongman
Domini Blythe as Anna
Robert Tayman as Count Mitterhaus
Director Of Photography: Moray Grant
Director: Robert Young
Editor: Peter Musgrave
Producer: Wilbur Stark
Original Music Composer: David Whitaker
Screenplay: Judson Kinberg
UK | Hammer | 87 minutes | 1972