Circus of Fear (1966)

Article #1585 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-17-2005
Posting Date: 12-14-2005
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Featuring Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands

Detectives investigate a robbery that resulted in the murder of a guard. Their investigation leads them to a circus populated by any number of sinister characters.

It is best to warn horror fans from square one; despite the title and certain horror elements (the presence of Christoper Lee as a lion tamer who wears a hood to hide his hideously scarred face, several knife murders), this is far more of a crime / mystery thriller than a horror piece. Actually, this isn’t so different from the common practice in the thirties to pass off old dark house mysteries as horror films, so it’s hard to get really offended over this. For a crime / mystery thriller, it’s not too bad; it has a few decent surprises and some interesting moments. It’s not particularly well done, though, and it misses a few opportunities; much as I like the fact that one scene involves two people having a fight in a ring filled with trained elephants, I don’t think the director made this moment as exciting as it could have been. Still, I have to grouse about one thing, and that is how often Klaus Kinski is wasted in movies like this; he’s a great actor with a memorable face, but he seems to be used for cameos more than anything else when he should be front and center. For the record, the movie’s most disappointing moment is getting our first look at the animal trainer’s hideous countenance.

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