Vampire Circus is a 1971 British horror film, directed by Robert Young for Hammer Horror Productions. It features Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, Lynne Frederick, and Anthony Higgins (billed as Anthony Corlan).
In a small Serbian village, the rumors that reclusive nobleman Count Mitterhaus is a vampire responsible for the disappearances of other children are proven true as schoolmaster Albert Müller witnesses his wife Anna taking a little girl, Jenny, to his castle to be drained of her blood, Anna having become Mitterhaus' willing acolyte and mistress. Men from the village invade the castle and attack the Count, where they succeeds in driving a wooden stake through his heart. With his dying breath, Mitterhaus vows that he will come back; as it turns out, he had instructed Anna to find his cousin Emil. Soon after, the village is visited by a mysterious traveling circus that calls itself "the Circus of the Night." Soon, young children begin to disappear, and the locals suspect the circus troupe might be hiding a horrifying secret related to the Count.
This film features examples of:
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Count Mitterhaus and possibly Emil are the only nobles we see in the film and are monstrous vampires to boot.
- Circus of Fear: The Circus of the Night is truly macabre. Appropriately enough, they are Count Mitterhaus' acolytes.
- Creepy Twins: There are two silent vampire twins, Helga and Heinrich.
- The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the film, after the Count is seemingly defeated, Dora and Anton see a bat fly out of the tomb into the night, implying that it is still not the last of the Count.
- Establishing Character Moment: The film opens with Mitterhaus draining and murdering a little girl and slaughtering her rescue party when they come.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Anna is a horrible person, giving children to Count Mitterhaus to drain and being the leader of the circus alongside Emil. But at the end she cannot sacrifice her daughter and dies defending her from Emil.
- Giant Mook: The Circus of the Night has one, played by the ever-reliable David Prowse.
- Kill 'Em All: Almost nobody makes it to the end of the film alive.
- Improvised Cross: During their final battle, Anton the uses the cross-shaped metal reinforcing plate on the base of the crossbow to hold Count Mitterhaus at bay.
- Lodged-Blade Recycling: In the prologue, one of the villagers stabs Count Mitterhaus in the chest with a knife, only for the Count to pull it out and slash the man's throat with it.
- Off with His Head!: Mitterhaus is seemingly killed at the climax when Anton jams the vampire's neck between a crossbow's bow and stock and then pulls the trigger, decapitating him.
- Powder Trail: In the prologue, the villagers plant barrels of gunpowder throughout the Count's castle and use a powder trail to set them off simultaneously.
- Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: When the village of Stetl is struck with the The Plague, the local authorities set up up roadblocks around the town and shoot at anyone who attempts to arrive or leave.
- The Renfield: Anna, the wife of the schoolmaster, is the willing servant (and lover) of Count Mitterhaus.
- Shout-Out: One of the film's taglines was "The Greatest Blood-Show on Earth," a pun on the title of another film about a circus.
- Synchronization: When Helga is bitten by a big cat, her twin Heinrich feels it. This also applies near the movie's climax when Helga dies it kills Heinrich as well.
- Torches and Pitchforks: The villagers of Stetl twice become an angry mob armed with flaming torches and farming implements: once in the prologue to storm the Count's castle, and one at the climax to attack the eponymous circus.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: The Strongman.
- Would Hurt a Child: Mitterhaus seems to prefer the blood of children to feed on.