Vampire Circus

Updated 01/13/11: Blu-ray review

Originally reviewed 05/16/08

As this Hammer horror melodrama from 1972 opens, schoolteacher Albert Mueller (Laurence Payne) catches his wife (Domini Blythe) and one of the young village girls making their way through the countryside in what’s apparently a quite unwholesome direction. He follows, but is unable to prevent their entry to the castle of Count Mitterhaus, a notoriously sexy vampire who holds the whole village under his sway. As the cuckold tries to marshal the shiftless men of the village for a rescue mission — experience with the Count seems to have whipped everybody here into a sense of meek helplessness — his wife offers up the young blond virgin to the vampire, who rips the girl’s throat out. The woman tears her own clothes off and Mitterhaus makes love to her. When the villagers are finally coerced to make their way to the castle with torches and grim looks, they carry away the dead girl and do battle with Mitterhaus himself, who ends up impaled through the chest on a pointed wooden stick while cursing the village in a stage whisper. Albert’s wife is brought outside and whipped as punishment for her betrayal, but finally runs back into the castle, which is set afire and burns into ruins. And then the opening credits roll.

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Demons of the Mind


Watched the new Anchor Bay DVD of Demons of the Mind — a minor Hammer horror film with lots of nudity and violence. This wacky baron lives in a mansion where he keeps his son and daughter — who seem to share an, er, unwholesome attraction to one another — locked up in separate rooms. A series of sex murders has been taking place in the nearby village, and of course they’re somehow related to this creepy family. There are a few really effective scenes in here, particularly the one depicting the bleeding of young Elizabeth, and some OK performances. The director went on to make To the Devil … a Daughter, which was a staple of late-night TV viewing during my formative years. Anyway, this is probably most interesting for charting Hammer’s increasing flirtation, in its waning years, with lurid subject matter.