Sometimes the term gem or classic is over used. Sometimes it is spot on. CIRCUS OF HORROR is one of those times when it truly is. A 1960’s cinema gem about a dubious plastic surgeon Dr Rossiter (later Schuler) (Anton Diffring) has performed on another poor soul and left her disfigured. Now the police are after him and he has nothing else to do but vanish. He escapes to France and a circus. After its owner dies (Donald Pleasance), he takes his chance and sets about hiding in the plainest of site.

Restoring the faces of various ne’er-do-well, he gets the chance to operate and they giving him privacy to perform. Until the day he can appear again as the hero of plastic surgery everywhere. However things are never as easy as all that and as beautiful woman start dying in ever more awful ‘accidents’, well suspicions are going to be raised. Of course more people will need to be stopped. To keep the secrets of his knife and his life.

British cinema was at the precipice in 1960. Gone were the great Ealing films. Kitchen sinks were about to arrive. So slide into this is CIRCUS OF HORRORS, an odd blend of body horror and dark desires. Stuart Maconie feature on the disc covers this in ample detail. Though the really important notes are made by Kim Newman in his piece. They are about how this film fits into a strange phenomena. That of the body political. EYES WITHOUT A FACE is an example of it from a French lens. However CIRCUS OF HORRORS is a more British affair. More linear. Less deranged. The restored 4K has brought a new sheen and given the film a life among the stalls. Reserved for us is that perversity in drips and drops. Sly comment and subtle innuendo. Missed on the discs content is a commentary. So we could hear how this film was inspired as much by best picture GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH success, as by European body politics that the commentators seem interested in. Its a shiny, lovely beast. Disturbed but with a wit and sadism that British humour can surface.

New: Interview with critic and author Kim Newman
New: Interview with broadcaster Stuart Maconie
Behind the scenes stills gallery

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