Circus of Horrors (1960)

UK, 1959
88m (USA), 92m
“in Eastmancolour”
mono, English
Reviewed at The EOFFTV Review

A British horror film directed by Sidney Hayers. It was the second in the loosely linked “Sadean trilogy” produced by Julian Wintle and Leslie Parkyn. Production began on 29 October 1959 1Variety 2 December 1959 p.20

Plot Summary

Dr Schuler is a mad plastic surgeon who screws up an operation and is forced to flee in disgrace to France where he buys a run down, one-ring circus. He populates the sideshows and main attractions with a number of disfigured women and derelicts whose features he reassembles to mirror the models in famous paintings. If they try to leave, he has them brutally killed before a howling and appreciative audience who believe that it’s all just part of the show. But, back in Blighty, Schuler’s original victim, Evelyn has recovered and by chance, encounters her tormentor at his Gallic hideout and begins to plot revenge…


Directed by: Sidney Hayers
© Lynx Films Limited MCMLX [1960]
Nat Cohen & Stuart Levy present a Julian Wintle Leslie Parkyn production
Associate Producer: Norman Priggen
Production Manager: Charles Permane
Original Screenplay by: George Baxt
Assistant Director: David Orton
Continuity: June Randall
Director of Photography: Douglas Slocombe
Camera Operator: Chic Waterson
Film Editor: Reginald Mills
Processed by: Rank Laboratories (Denham) Limited
Music by: Franz Reizenstein and Muir Mathieson
The Song “Look for a Star” by: Mark Anthony [real name: Tony Hatch]
Sung by: Garry Mills
Sound Recordist: Len Page
Re-recording: Ken Cameron
RCA Sound System
Sound Editor: Lionel Selwyn *
Costumes: Morris Angel
Wardrobe: Vi Murray
Make-up: Trevor Crole-Rees
Hair Stylist: Maud Onslow
Titles by: Gil Kirk
Art Director: Jack Shampan
Made at: Independent Artists Studios, Beaconsfield, London, England
The producers acknowledge with greatful thanks the co-operation and facilities given for the making of this film by Billy Smart’s Circus

Anton Diffring (Dr Rossiter/Bernard Schuler)
Erika Remberg (Elissa Caro)
Yvonne Monlaur (Nicole Vanet)
Donald Pleasence (Vanet)
Jane Hylton (Angela)
Conrad Phillips (Inspector Arthur Desmond)
Kenneth Griffith (Martin)
Vanda Hudson (Magda von Meck)
Yvonne Romain (Melina)
Colette Wilde (Evelyn Morley Finsbury)
Jack Gwillim (Supt Andrews)
John Merivale (Edward Finsbury)
Carla Challoner (Nicole (as a child))
Peter Swanwick (Inspector Knopf)
William Mervyn (Dr Morley)
Chris Christian [ringmaster – uncredited]
Malcolm Watson [murdered Frenchman – uncredited]
Walter Gotell [Baron Von Gruber – uncredited]
Jack Carson [Chief Eagle Eye – uncredited]
Kenneth J. Warren [1st roustabout – uncredited]
Fred Haggerty [2nd roustabout – uncredited]
Sasha Coco [Luis – uncredited]
Glyn Houston [carnival barker – uncredited]
Kenny Baker [dwarf – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Il circo degli orrori – Italian title
Phantom of the Circus
Der Rote Schatten – German title

See also
Skinner (1995)

Production Notes

To help promote the film on its original release, star Anton Diffring accompanied Cliff Elson of the ABC chain of cinemas to a screening at the Savoy cinema in Brighton on June 16 1960.


Castle of Frankenstein no.8 p.39
International Video News August 1983 – note
Kine Weekly vol.517 no.2751 (23 June 1960) pp.11; 12 – note (Your films by Josh Billings); note (Renter’s news: Personal appearance of Anton Diffring)
Kine Weekly vol.517 no.2752 (30 June 1960) pp.5; 19 – note (Long shots); note (Your films by Josh Billings)
TV Times 14 – 20 July 1984 p.48 – credits, synopsis
Variety 2 December 1959 p.20 – credits, production start date (Hollywood production pulse)

American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig p.91
American International Pictures: A Filmography by Robert L. Ottoson p.58 – credits, synopsis, review
The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.118
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.80-89, 109, 113
Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.94, 96, 111, 141
Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures by Mark Thomas McGee pp.174-177;  305
Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.71-72
Hoffman’s Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.73 – credits, review
Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.68 – credits
Rock ‘n’ Roll Monsters: The American International Story by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.216-218
The Shrieking Sixties Darrell Buxton (ed.) pp.12-14
Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.49-50
X-Cert: The British Independent Horror Film: 1951-1970 by John Hamilton pp.84-90; 225