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I donít know if 1960ís CIRCUS OF HORRORS ($25) is so much a horror movie, as it is a grotesque, overheated melodrama with an unhealthy dose of gore thrown in for good measure. Regardless of which genre CIRCUS OF HORRORS is lumped into, this British import of the Hammer school of school of blood and gore remains wonderful exploitative fun. The plot of CIRCUS OF HORRORS centers on an egotistical plastic surgeon named Rossiter (Anton Diffring), whose unorthodox methods have gotten him in trouble with the authorities.

After an operation leaves a female patientís face in ruins, Rossiter and his associates disappear into the French countryside. Looking for a place to set up shop again, Rossiter happens upon a broken down circus, which turns out to be a suitable front for his continued operations. After restoring the war-scarred face of the circus ownerís daughter and the death of the circus owner himself, Rossiter changes his name to Schueler and becomes the proprietor of the traveling show. Finding disfigured women on the wrong side of the law, Dr. Schueler restores their beauty and trains them as circus performers for his show. With the evidence of their past identities, Schueler manages to keep his circus troop in virtual servitude. However, when his performers do try to leave the show, they all fall victim to grisly "accidents" under the big top. The cast of CIRCUS OF HORRORS also features Jane Hylton, Kenneth Griffith, Erika Remberg, Conrad Phillips, Yvonne Monlaur, Colette Wilde, Vanda Hudson, Yvonne Romain, Jack Gwillim, John Merivale, Chris Christian and Donald Pleasence.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has made CIRCUS OF HORRORS available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The transfer is absolutely gorgeous, making this 1960 release look almost as good as a brand new movie. Even the film elements appear virtually pristine, making the presentation fairly eye-popping. The image is quite crisp and the level of detail is excellent for a film of this vintage. Colors are wonderfully vibrant and completely stable- no signs of noise or bleeding anywhere. Blacks are suitably inky and the contrast is quite smooth. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is free from background noise and distortion. As expected, the fidelity of the recordings is limited, but the sound never comes across as harsh or tinny. Still, the filmís circus music has a lively quality that makes it worth amplifying. Sound effects are pretty convincing, plus the voices are well recorded and dialogue is fairly easy to understand. A French language soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD.

Full motion video animation and sound enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Included on the DVD is a theatrical trailer, plus a fairly extensive still gallery containing of photos and publicity materials, plus a biography of actor Anton Diffring.

As I stated above, CIRCUS OF HORRORS is a wonderfully exploitive shocker that is certain to entertain. Anchor Bayís DVD edition of CIRCUS OF HORRORS looks incredibly good, making this a DVD that genre fans will want to own.


Circus of Horrors


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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