Circus Of Fear 2004 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
With a title like Circus of Fear and a star named Christopher Lee, I think it’s fair to assume that the movie probably features psychopathic clowns, murderous midgets, a trapeze made of razor wire and a safety net filled with broken glass. Wrong. The film is about a heist…and about the unleashed passions within a community of circus performers…and about family revenge…and about the sins of the past…and about…well, you see the problem. The movie goes after a lot of plot lines, and horror isn’t one of them.
After an armored car is held up on London’s Tower Bridge and one of the guards killed, the gang is captured but the money disappears. The only place it could have wound up is somewhere in the Barberini Worldwide Circus at its winter quarters. We know there was a Mr. Big behind the heist, but then we find out there might be two Mr. Bigs, the second being the circus midget who dabbles in blackmail. There’s the Great Gregor, the lion trainer (Christopher Lee), who always wears a mask, ostensibly to cover gruesome scars when he was attacked by one of his big cats. There’s his niece, or is it his daughter? Is he a murderer, or just guilty of manslaughter? Did he escape from prison, or is he just presumed dead? There is a fierce knife thrower and his [**]tish target and fiancee. There’s the vengeful ringmaster, the innocent equestrienne, the bookkeeper who wants to be a clown, and that midget who is always listening in to conversations. There’s Barberini himself, with fat lips, a cane, a cigar and a fur-trimmed coat. And somewhere in the circus is a quarter-of-a-million British pounds in bank-notes. Murder brings Inspector Elliot (Leo Genn) to the circus, and more murders keep him there until the killer is betrayed by special throwing knives from his past. And that was not a spoiler.
The movie, if it had a decent transfer and with the right (low) price might be a reasonable way to waste an hour and a half. However, the DVD transfer in every public domain version I’ve heard of is execrable. Only scenes in broad daylight or in well-lit rooms are easily decipherable. At night, when it’s foggy or just overcast, you can see almost nothing except chrome bumpers and flashlight beams. The movie was shot in color; it looks in black and white because the color has so badly faded.
The movie, however, does feature an odd collection of proven, well-known actors. Christopher Lee (and now Sir Christopher) was not just a horror specialist; he was an accomplished actor. I’m not sure how he could have wound up in this film. Leo Genn was an established star by the late Forties and early Fifties who gradually faded into movies like this. He had a great speaking voice as well that well-bred British manner that so easily moves from courtesy to careless condescension. Cecil Parker shows up now and then as Genn’s harried boss. Parker had a distinctive voice, a long career, and was at his best in sophisticated comedies. Even a young Klaus Kinski is here, playing a deeply-troubled gang member you’d have problems being friendly with.
This is a movie to watch with average to low expectations; then you won’t be disappointed.