Lurid, over-the-top – and terrifically entertaining, 1960 British gem Circus Of Horrors makes its way onto Blu-ray in stunning quality.

Showcasing a great central performance from Anton Diffring, this carnival of excess, mutilation and entertainment gone wrong remains a fascinating watch, even 60 years on from its screen debut.

Diffring plays Dr Rossiter, an experimental plastic surgeon whose cutting edge (see what I did there) work and ideas do not go down well with the powers that be. After a botched operation Rossiter goes on the run, first crashing his car and having his own plastic surgery to disguise his identity, then popping up in France as ‘Dr Bernard Schuler’, a supposed Swiss plastic surgeon.

Things then take a turn for the weird when Schuler opts to take over a run-down circus after owner Vanet (played by Donald Pleasence no less) meets a sticky end. Schuler’s plan? To hoover up a bevy of scarred or disfigured women, carry out his surgery to make them ‘beautiful’ again then have him headlining his shows.

Sure enough, Schuler’s circus is a roaring success, making its way across Europe to sell-out crowds. But as some of his stars voice displeasure over their treatment, what better way for Schuler to get rid of them than some ‘accidents at work’?

Visually Circus Of Horrors is an absolute treat, from eye-popping colours and circus antics through to a cavalcade of female eye-candy in the shape of genre favourites Yvonne Monlaur, Yvonne Romain and Erika Remberg.

There is also blood – not as much as I remember from when I first saw this as a kid – but the set pieces really add to the overall spectacle.

Holding it all together is Diffring and he is quite simply perfect in the part – cold, calculating, but with a whiff of the ‘mad scientist’ hanging over his performance.

Directed with real gusto by Sidney Hayers, Circus Of Horrors fairly rattles along and is one of those films that has an ‘anything goes’ mentality – and is all the better for it.

EXTRAS

Apart from the upgrade in picture quality, there are also a handful of extras to provide some bonus entertainment.

First up we have a 20-minute interview with genre historian Kim Newman, who talks us through the background to the film and its making to entertaining effect.

Then a further 20-minute interview focuses on broadcaster Stuart Maconie, an avowed fan of the film who expands on just why he feels it is a film worth celebrating.

The film’s original trailer completes the package.

Blu-Ray Review: Circus Of Horrors (1960)
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle