25 April 2014

Circus of Fear (1966)
90 min.
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey.
With Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands, Margaret Lee, Klaus Kinski, Suzy Kendall, Heinz Drache, Eddi Arent.
It's always unfortunate when a horror flick set in a circus - such an opportune setting, so rife with possibilities - turns out to be a lackluster affair.

In this one, a group of robbers hold up an armored truck, and make off with a serious load of cash. Police inspector Elliot (Leo Genn) is assigned to investigate the case, and the clues lead him to the popular Barberini's Circus.

There, a plethora of colorful Big Tent characters provide Elliot with a whole host of red herrings. Could the masked lion tamer Gregor (Lee) have something to do with the robbery? Or what about creepy jack-of-all-trades Manfred (Kinski)?

Sadly, Circus of Fear, based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, fails both as a standard mystery and as a suspense thriller. A hardworking director of episodic television and TV features, Moxey seems bored with the narrative here, and it shows in the film's oatmeal visual style, and humdrum pacing.

Lee and Kinski phone in their roles (the latter hardly on screen at all), and poor Kendall gives it her all, but doesn't know whether she's coming or going. Not the worst of its kind, but certainly subpar.

Also known as Psycho Circus.

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