Circus of Fear/Web of the Spider (2003) Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
I found Circus of Fear to be a thoroughly bad movie in so, so many ways. Even the most enthusiastic fan of Christopher Lee should think twice about seeing his uninspired performance here. Sadly, almost all of the other actors come off worse than he does. It is very important to note that, while this film is capable of invoking horror on the part of the unfortunate viewer, it is in no way a horror film and is in no way associated with Hammer Studios. I should admit that my own intense dislike for the circus may make me a little biased, but I don’t think even Ziegfried and Roy could enjoy this story. We start with a rather complicated robbery of an armored truck, and then follow one of the robbers to a rendezvous on the confines of the Barberini Circus. Several deaths ensue, two or three rather outlandish storylines converge, unhealthy-looking animals are exploited in ways only a circus can be responsible for, we are forced to endure circus people at their most crude and painfully annoying worst, and we are rewarded in the end with a final plot twist that seems manufactured out of thin air.
The plot to Web of Spider sounds a little hokey; a writer/journalist journeys to London to meet and interview Edgar Allan Poe, and he ends up spending a night in a haunted castle. I understand that this 1972 film is a remake of the black and white classic Castle of Blood, but having not yet seen the first film I can not compare the two. All I can say is that this is an extraordinarily, genuinely creepy movie. The inclusion of Edgar Allan Poe (played somewhat questionably by Klaus Kinski) is really quite unnecessary as the adventures at the castle more than stand on their own two feet. For his part, however, Poe claims that all of his stories are based on true events, and he has a new story in waiting when the American journalist Alan Foster (Tony Franciosa) accepts Lord Blackwood’s bet that he cannot spend a full night in his haunted castle. I won’t say much about what happens over the course of this strange night, except to say that it is far from just your typical haunted house story. The first ten or fifteen minutes of Alan’s exploration of the house were really and truly creepy, on a level that had me engaging in my own dialogue with Foster. I remember saying “don’t go in there” and “nothing good will come of this” several times. Years of sating my compulsion for horror in all its forms has all but atrophied my “spooks” nerve, but this movie dug way down and hit that nerve several times, much to my uncomfortable delight. I even sort of jumped once, and that is unheard of.
I don’t feel the movie was very predictable, either, and that is another reason I enjoyed it so much. I’m not saying it’s difficult to see the ultimate conclusion coming, but I for one was never completely sure how things would play out until the very end. The Gothic look and feel to the movie is outstanding, really, and the cast (aside from Kinski) is superb. Michele Mercier is particularly captivating in her role. I would praise the other cast members one by one, for the effectiveness of this movie is a direct byproduct of their outstanding work, but I really do not want to risk giving away one single thing about the night’s events. If you enjoy old school horror, especially of a richly Gothic variety, Web of the Spider is just what the doctor ordered. I hesitate to make a claim as bold as this, but, at least for the time being, this is the best, most deliciously creepy haunted house movie I have ever seen.
About Circus of Fear/Web of the Spider (2003)
Starring: Lee Kinski
Runtime: 127 minutes