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(Review originally written at 1 October 2006)

This is of course not the only vampire movie made by the Hammer studios. Countless versions of the famous Bram Stoker novel were made by the Hammer studios, with almost always Peter Cushing and/or Cristopher Lee as count Dracula. in the role of Van Helsing. This movie however chooses a totally different approach. Instead of mostly relying on elements from the Bram Stoker novel, the movie creates a totally different and original story on its own. The end result can be described as a mix between the 1932 movie "Freaks" and other earlier vampire movies from the Hammer studios.

The story of this movie is original but above all well written. It's solid and it has some really interesting elements in it. The concept of a high powerful vampire taking revenge on the villagers and their families, through a group of circus vampires and other freaks, who killed him works very compelling, as simple as the story might sound.

The movie has a great atmosphere, that is mostly a mysterious one. This is mainly thanks to the circus folks, who consist out of a wide variety of odd persons of which some have supernatural powers. Every character is unique, mysterious and scary on its own. It gives the movie a creepy atmosphere as well, that certainly is better and more realistic than in most other Hammer studio productions is the case.

But also the 'normal' persons of the movie are interesting and well written. The movie follows quite some characters, who all have their own motivations and personality.

The movie is also well cast, which definitely helps the movie. Robert Tayman is a good and mysterious charismatic vampire count. Especially the circus folks are well cast, with David Prowse as the strongman. Skip Martin as the really creepy dwarf and Lalla Ward as one of the mysterious but sensual murderous twins.

Because of the originality of the story, the movie always remains a surprising one. It doesn't ever get predictable, mainly also because the story is pretty straightforward. Lost of innocent people, like children, are getting killed in a brutal way. The movie also features quite some gory sequences for Hammer standards and some of the usual nudity. Yes, it really is the originality and unpredictability of the story that makes this movie such a great and compelling one.

But yet the movie also always remains entertaining to watch. Guess you have to be a fan, or a person who is familiar with the genre, to really see the entertainment value in this but every person would agree that this is an enjoyable movie to watch, since it obviously is not a 'heavy'- or one to take very serious.

An underrated highly original vampire movie that is a must-see for the fans.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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