| UK 87MINS | US 84 MINS | COLOUR | HAMMER |
After the villagers invade his castle, the murderous Count Mitterhaus is attacked and a stake driven through his heart. With his dying breath the Count puts a curse on the villagers, vowing that their children will die to give back his life. The castle is then torched.
Some fifteen years later, the village becomes ravaged by the plague and quarantined by the authorities. The villagers fear that the pestilence now ravaging their citizens may be due to the curse placed on them by Count Mitterhaus. The villagers' minds are taken off their troubles to some extent with the arrival of a travelling circus which is led by a dwarf and a gypsy woman. However, one of the artists, Emil, is actually Count Mitterhaus's cousin and he is also a vampire.
Emil and the gypsy woman make their way to the castle where, by the dead Count's staked body, they reiterate the curse that he placed on the villagers and all their children.
Emil envelops the village in a wave of murderous destruction. Countless people are killed in Emil's ceaseless quest to avenge the death of his cousin, Count Mitterhaus. A Dr Kersch manages to escape the blockaded village and bring back with him an imperial escort and medicines for the plague. He also tells of many other vampiric killing in other villages, all toured by the Circus of the Night. The circus is set alight.
Anton, the son of Dr Kersch, Albert Muller, and the soldiers attack the crypt of castle Mitterhaus. In the ensuing melee, Emil's chest is pierced with the stake pulled from the chest of Count Mitterhaus. The Count rises from his sarcophagus and is then vanquished by Anton. Anton and Dora, the daughter of Albert Muller, escape the tomb. The villagers set the ruins of the castle alight thus ending the curse.
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Britishhorrorfilms: Vampire Circus is a brutal film - but not everything is shown. In what seems like an exercise in restraint, Emil slaughters a room full of students, like some kind of befanged Paul Calf. And at the end there aren't many people left standing.
Bloodyfilm: This film is horror at its most Hammer; a macabre period piece steeped in classic concepts, with a splash of boobs and butts, blood and guts.
Allmovie: One of the studio's more stylish and intelligent projects.
Michael: The Circus of Nights! A hundred delights!