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December 17, 2010

Vampire Circus (Blu-ray, Synapse Films)

Shamefully, this is the first Hammer Horror film I have ever seen. I know, take my horror geek credentials away now. I've just never had the chance to see any of them. With this stellar release from the awesome cats at Synapse Films, I couldn't have picked a better foray into Britain's legendary production company. Read on for my review on the film, extra's and all around quality from this new Blu-ray. Hint, it's bloody phenomenal.

Buy Vampire Circus on Blu-Ray!

The Film:

As said previously this was my first Hammer Horror viewing, I didn't quite know what I was in for. I've seen my fair share of vampire films, but nothing like this. Vampire Circus oozes with atmosphere and I loved every minute of it. The film begins with head vampire, Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman) feeding off a small girl in his castle. That scene establishes the dark mood for the rest of the movie. I was actually shocked that that the filmmakers decided to use a young girl as vamp food instead of a buxom blonde. As topical as it is, it's what makes Vampire Circus stand out amongst the rest and righteously a cult classic.

Prof. Albert Mueller (Laurence Payne) and the villagers realize the girl is missing and storm the Count's castle. Upon they're arrival they find that Anna, Mueller's wife, led the little girl to the Count and had sex with him. Enraged, Mueller slams a stake through Mitterhaus's heart..but not before he utters a death curse upon the village. The curse entails that their children will die and ultimately bring him back to life. Anna drags the Count to a hidden crypt and is told to find Emil (Anthony Corlan/Higgins), his cousin. The villagers set the castle ablaze and it's over..but in classic tradition, evil never dies.

15 years later, a plague sweeps over the village. Mueller, Doctors and other villagers debate whether it is a disease or the Count's dreaded curse. Before they can figure it out, a traveling circus arrives distracting everyone from the travesty. The circus is led by a dwarf and a familiar looking gypsy woman we may or may not know. With this film being famously titled, Vampire Circus, you'd have to be incredibly dense to not know what follows. I won't spoil the rest of the flick but I can tell you it's filled with exceptional Gothic scenery, a nude tiger tattooed lady and the gory delight of a Hammer Horror film. I now know why Hammer is held in such high regards amongst cult horror fans. You can tell the individuals involved within the production company truly cared about their product and gave fans what they really wanted. Today's "vampires" are pretty teen pussies that clearly have no respect for the genre. I dream of a world where Peter Cushing rises up to drive stakes into the hearts of today's sparkling assholes. Hammer or Bust.

The Blu-ray:

Synapse Films, the best DVD and now (thank Crom!) Blu-ray cult label presents Vampire Circus for the 1st time on home video..... in glorious 1080p High Definition! Let's run through the specs and the exceptional bonus features:

* Widescreen 1.66.1 1080p High Definition transfer
To be blunt, Vampire Circus looks fucking impressive. Synapse never lets down in the PQ department and this is no exception. Synapse + Blu = Amazing.

* DTS-HD MA English 2.0 Mono / DTS-HD MA Music & Effects Track
Audio is spot on, no problems in this department. Sharp, clear and pristine. There is also a Music and Effects track, for those who love to listen to just the score.

Bonus Features:

* The Bloodiest Show on Earth: Making of Vampire Circus
This is a fantastic documentary detailing Vampire Circus and Hammer Horror in general. Very informative for the non educated and even Hammer aficionados, great stuff.

* Gallery of Grotesque: Brief History of Circus Horror
Details horror films centered around circus and carnie terrors.

* Visiting the House of Hammer - Britain's Legendary Horror Magazine
Talks about the iconic House of Hammer zine.

* Vampire Circus Motion Comic Book

* Still & Poster Gallery

* Theatrical Trailer

* DVD Copy
Included is a DVD of Vampire Circus, very awesome for those who have yet to upgrade to Blu.

This is a fantastic release on all accounts. Synapse has introduced me to a classic Hammer flick, uncut and in stunning HD. I am forever grateful. Synapse has three more Hammer Horror films coming, Twins of Evil & Hands of the Ripper. I'm drooling at just the thought. Highly Recommended.

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