Circus of Fear (1966)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Whodunit  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

Although its title and the presence of horror mainstay Christopher Lee might lead one to expect a chilling monster picture, Circus of Fear is really a fairly standard issue murder mystery. The circus setting, while hardly unique, does give Circus a little curiosity value; unfortunately, this aspect of the film is not exploited as interestingly as it might have been. There's the usual mumbo jumbo about circus folk being their own community and taking care of (or punishing) their own and some stock big top situations. The not-unexpected knife throwing sequence, however, is extremely well done and adds some much-needed tension; another sequence involving a fight at is filmed among a bunch of elephants promises more than it delivers, but it does come across as relatively effective. The "big reveal" of the lion tamer's face is so-so, but Christopher Lee still manages to make the most of it, as he does all of his moments here. The plot is confused and confusing but does manage to keep the viewer engaged, and Lee's fellow cast members are fine. (The excellent Klaus Kinski is largely wasted in a tiny role.) Editing is poor, in some places jarring. But its faults aside, there are enough ingredients to keep crime flic aficionados entertained.