Vampire Circus (1972)

UK, 1971
84m (USA), 87m (UK), 7,955 feet
35mm, Rankcolor
mono, English

A British horror film directed by Robert Young.

Plot Summary

In 19th century Schettel, the townspeople endure the deprivations of the undead Count Mitterhouse who, from the safety of his castle, murders the town’s children and seduces the wives. Eventually, the terrified people, led by Professor Mueller rise up and destroy Mitterhouse – but before he dies, he swears vengeance on the town and its children. The mob, driven to a frenzy, flog Mitterhouse’s mortal lover, Anna who escapes to haul her lover’s body into a deep crypt before the enraged townspeople dynamite the castle. Fifteen years later, Mitterhouse is little more than a distant bad memory and Schettel has other problems to contend with – plague has arrived in the town, ominously carried by bats. A strictly enforced blockade encircles the town, allowing no one to enter, armed guards gunning down anyone who tries to escape. Yet somehow, The Circus of Night manages to find its way in, led by a gypsy woman who assures the villagers that the circus is here to bring some relief to their embattled lives…


Directed by: Robert Young
© MCMLXXI Hammer Film Productions Limited
The Rank Organization presents a Hammer production
Produced by: Wilbur Stark
Production Manager: Tom Sachs
Production Supervisor: Roy Skeggs
Screenplay by: Judson Kinberg
Story: George Baxt, Wilbur Stark [both uncredited]
Assistant Director: Derek Whitehurst
Continuity: June Randall
Director of Photography: Moray Grant
Camera Operator: Walter Byatt
Editor: Peter Musgrave
Colour by Rank Film Processing
Music Composed by: David Whitaker
Musical Supervisor: Philip Martell
Sound Recordist: Claude Hitchcock
Sound Editor: Roy Hyde
Dubbing Mixer: Ken Barker
Westrex Recording System
Wardrobe Supervisor: Brian Owen-Smith
Make-up: Jill Carpenter
Hairdressing: Ann McFadyen
Special Effects: Les Bowie
Art Director: Scott MacGregor
Assistant Art Director: Don Picton
Construction Manager: Arthur Banks
Animal Adviser: Mary Chipperfield
Studio: Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Casting Director: James Liggat

Adrienne Corri (gypsy woman)
Thorley Walters (Burgermeister)
John Moulder-Brown (Anton Kersh)
Anthony Corlan (Emil)
Laurence Payne (Professor Mueller)
Lynne Frederick (Dora Mueller)
Richard Owens (Dr Kersh)
Domini Blythe (Anna Mueller)
Elizabeth Seal (Gerta Hauser)
Robin Hunter (Hauser)
Robert Tayman (Count Mitterhaus)
Mary Wimbush (Elvira)
Robin Sachs (Heinrich)
Barnaby Shaw (Gustav)
Skip Martin (Michael)
John Bown (Schilt)
Christina Paul [real name: Christine Paul-Podlasky] (Rosa)
Lalla Ward (Helga)
Roderick Shaw (Jon Hauser)
Dave Prowse (strongman)
Bradforts-Amaros (by courtesy of Billy Smart’s Circus)
Milovan and Serena (The Webers)
Jane Derby (Jenny)
Sibylla Kay (Mrs Schilt)
Dorothy Frere (Granma Schilt)
Sean Hewitt (1st soldier)
Giles Phibbs (Sexton)
Jason James (foreman)
Arnold Locke (old villager)
Anna Bentinck, Nina Francis, Drina Pavlovic, Jenny Twigge [schoolgirls – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Circus der Vampire – German title
Le Cirque des vampires – French title
La Regina dei vampiri – Italian title
Vampyrernas cirkus – Swedish title
Vampyyrit iskevät – Finnish title

Extracts included in
World of Horror: Dracula & the Undead (1994)

See also
Film Night: Animal Actors (1971)


In the USA the film was originally rated “R” but was subsequently re-rated “PG” 1Variety vol.268 no.5 (13 September 1972) p.26 (Re-Rate Trend Goes On)


Castle of Frankenstein no.19 p.21
Cinema of the ’70s no.1 (2020) pp.49-68 – illustrated article (Straight on till ’79: A decade of Hammer horror by Ian Taylor)
CinemaTV Today no.9979 (6 May 1972) p.24 – review
Dark Terrors no.6 (March – June 1993) pp.36-38 – illustrated credits, article
Filmfacts vol.15 no.20 (1972) pp.481-482 – reprinted reviews
The Hollywood Reporter vol.223 no.21 (12 October 1972) p.4 – review
The House That Hammer Built no.8 (April 1998) pp.425-428 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
Kine Weekly no.3331 (14 August 1971) p.9 – credits
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.39 no.461 (June 1972) p.124 – credits, synopsis, review
Today’s Cinema no.9926 (27 July 1971) p.7 – note (Films shooting in August)
Today’s Cinema no.9930 (10 August 1971) p.7 – note (Vampires at Pinewood)
Today’s Cinema no.9934 (24 August 1971) p.4 – credits
Today’s Cinema no.9943 (28 September 1971) pp.4; 6 – illustrated note (Visiting ‘Vampire); note (Music man)
Variety vol.268 no.5 (13 September 1972) p.26 – article (Re-Rate Trend Goes On)

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.244
Cinematic Vampires by John L. Flynn pp.103-105
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.219-20, 219, 221, 255, 257
Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.146
Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company by Howard Maxford pp.821-824 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
The Hammer Story by Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes p.154 – illustrated article, review
Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.415-416
Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.151-152 – credits, synopsis, review
Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.518 – credits
Ten Years of Terror pp.123-124 – illustrated credits, review (by Tim Greaves)
Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.224-226
Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between by Gary A. Smith pp.20-22; 221 – illustrated review; credits