Hammer Film Productions made a lot of horror movies and they made a ton of Dracula movies with Christopher Lee. But their Dracula films pale compared to their Frankenstein films and my favourite of their vampire films is the 1972 movie Vampire Circus.
The movie has one heck have an opening act. In a small town a vampire, Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) has been preying on the town too long. He has seduced the school master’s wife, Anna Müller (Domini Blythe) and she steals children for him to feed on. The town has had enough and a big mob storm the castle to kill the count. A massive fight breaks out and the count kills several villagers before the school master Professor Albert Müller (Laurence Payne) manages to drive a stake through the vampire’s heart. The count curses the town and tells his lover to find his cousin.
15 years later the town is ravaged by a mysterious plague and is quarantined off from civilization and help. Slipping past the blockade a mysterious gypsy circus shows up to entertain the masses. But this is no ordinary circus. The acrobats are little too good at aerobatics (they’re vampires) and the black panther is actually the late count’s cousin Emil (Anthony Higgins), a shape shifting vampire.
Soon everyone that had something to do with the count’s death has had their children disappear or they themselves have been killed. Emil has been killing the children to bring the count back to life and he has almost succeeded.
Hammer had been the at the top of the horror movie business for over a decade but once the 1970s hit they soon found their films to be a bit old fashioned. They had made several attempts to be more relevant and this was one of their more successful attempts and one of my favourites. I originally wrote about here.