Dr Rossiter, a disgraced plastic surgeon, flees England with
a couple of associates and searches for a low-key place where
he can continue his work under the new identity of Doctor
Schuler. He buys his way into a run-down circus in France,
and builds it up by finding unknown and scarred women and
making them beautiful again. The women are trained to become
star attractions in the circus, but when any decide to leave
they meet with a terrible accident. Now the successful circus
is visiting England, and Scotland Yard's Inspector Ames is
don't know how the cinematic release of this film was received
back in 1960 but I can't imagine its first UK DVD distribution
impressing too many people today. There are far too many circus
acts the viewer is obliged to follow with no noticeable progress
to the plot. In other words, it just seems like padding.
little or no horror on show here; in fact, tension (which
should be built) is conspicuous by its complete absence. Even
the interpersonal conflicts appear to carry little weight.
There are numerous shots of the doctor taunting or being violent
to a man in an obvious gorilla suit.
I know that Circus of Horrors catered for a different
generation of cinema-goers, but surely one of the first rules
of film-making is to not look down to your audience. Don't
treat people like idiots; one reference to the fact the doctor
is going to get his just desserts at the hands of the unconvincing
gorilla is surely enough.
say we live in enlightened times. Perhaps, but certainly the
media of that era depicted violence or horror in more simple
terms. You were either good or bad, with no shades of grey
or specific reasons for your actions. That's why the uniformed
police are nearly always Cockneys and the plain clothes police
middle-class or higher. Inspector Ames (played by Conrad Phillips)
is a gentleman investigator who is so competent at his job
that his chief accepts practically anything he says or does.
I can't imagine anybody being able to relate to these characters
It's nice to see a very young-looking Donald Pleasence in
the film, although he plays a small role. I got the feeling
that if he had played the part of Doctor Rossiter he would
have brought shed-loads of class to an otherwise drab movie.