Country: UK/WEST GERMANY
Circus of Terror
Circus of Fear is a solid if underwhelming crime thriller derived from the Edgar Wallace novel The Three Just Men (1926). It is not as some might assume a horror film despite the appearance of Christopher Lee. Lee spends the majority of the film underneath a black hood, and is only a visible screen presence in the last ten minutes or so. The casting of Klaus Kinski in a typically brief and totally pointless cameo however is a stronger indication of this films relationship to the West German ‘krimi’ films. This cycle of movies, almost exclusively based upon the stories of Edgar Wallace reached a point of saturation in the 1960’s and in certain regards were a major influence on the embryonic first steps of the Italian giallo film. There is a definite relationship between the two, one which generally seems to be overlooked in histories of the form. If there is ever an area of popular European cinema worthy of further elucidation and research then it is certainly the Wallace ‘krimi’ movies. Circus of Fear is an Anglo-German co-production, and the film as a result benefits from some intriguing casting decisions. The main creative force behind it was Harry Alan Towers, a significant producer of low budget genre pictures in the 60’s and 70’s who in this case also put his hand to writing the screenplay. Perhaps the less said about that the better; this is a highly confusing and clumsily plotted movie which is unable to make full and proper use of an interesting ensemble cast.