Circus of Horrors (1960)

director: Sidney Hayers
release-year: 1960
genres: horror
countries: United Kingdom
languages: English

From the director of several episodes of just about every TV show in the 60s through the 80s.

Not quite invisible man.

A very Looney Toons opening credits. Excited horns and cymbals, and skipping around between different tracks for some reason. The horns give way to strings, I guess to represent the transition from the "circus" to the "of horrors." It starts with the "of horrors," in any case, cutting between a screaming woman smashing things and some chubby, old British cops in nice driving coats. The British guys arrive as her face melts off.

Faces are such fickle things.

A fantastically poorly filmed car crash gets us another disfigured face. This film seems to be about disfigured faces, and trying to fix them.

Car safety has improved through the years.

There's a French girl with a scarred face, too. Her dad owns a circus, which will probably become one of horrors. Some experimental "Swiss" doctor (it is slightly post-World War II) agrees to fix her face for free, performing the surgery at the circus, surrounded by elephants. The surgery is instant and the girl is repaired. She tells all of the elephants that she is beautiful, and a bear hops up and down.

She is beautiful!

The dad pays the doctor by giving him the circus, which he wants for unexplained former-Nazi reasons. They celebrate by poking the bear, which is sometimes a real bear and sometimes a man in fuzzy pajamas, and the dad is mauled. The doctor considers helping him with a large wooden fork, but does not.

No wonder he got mauled.

The middle half is circus drama, which is extremely boring. I missed most of it, except for when the Native American was throwing knives and speared a woman in the throat. It returns to boring circus drama immediately after. The performers are all the people whose faces the doctor fixed, and he keeps murdering them when they ask for raises. But mostly they just talk about boring circus stuff.

Natives are common in West Germany.

It's shot and framed and acted just fine. No real comments. It's a straight-forward, professionally-made, boring suspense film. It would have been worth the ticket to take your sweetheart to the drive-in on a Friday night, or whatever people did in 1960. The middle hour is perfect for some necking and heavy petting; you won't miss anything interesting.

It's about a circus.

The plot finally catches up to the first scene, and it's about detectives investigating why this circus has killed a bunch of women who all have surgical scars along their jaws. They've been hunting this Nazi plastic surgeon for over a decade, I guess, and looking everywhere… including in circus graveyards. They never actually say he's a Nazi, but it's easy to pretend.

Everybody dies.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film, unless you count general animal abuse, in which case several dozen animals were harmed. Film studios used to keep piles of lions around just for cases like this.

Somebody had to feed these lions between circus movies.