Bloody 1970s Vampire Horror Is Iconic Studio’s Secret Gem, Stream Without Netflix

By Brian Myers | Published

Hammer Studios gave horror fans scores of genre entries that span more than five decades, nearly every movie a worthwhile watch. The filmmakers produced a good number of vampire films during that time, most notably variations of the Bram Stoker Dracula novel starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. One particular film from Hammer that departed from the fictional Dracula was Vampire Circus, a movie that any fan of nocturnal bloodsuckers will appreciate.

Starts Out Like A Typical Vampire Tale

Vampire Circus begins with a young girl being lured into a mansion on the outskirts of a Serbian village in the 19th century. The mansion is the home of Count Mitterhaus, an odd man that locals fear is a vampire. After he bares his fangs and attacks the child, a mob of angry townsfolk batters their way into the Count’s home with stakes and torches at the ready.

The Count disposes of several of the villagers, gnashing his teeth through their necks before a young man can get a lucky strike against the bloodsucker. He drives the stake deep into the vampire’s back, killing him. But Vampire Circus is only beginning.

Curse Of The Vampire

Cursing those who killed him, in his final breath, Count Mutterhaus proclaims that the children of the village will all die so that he might live again. The vampire’s human lover, who also happens to be the wife of the man who drove the stake into his heart, later returns to the count’s mansion and hears him gasp instructions for her to find his cousin at the Circus of Night.

Vampires Fall Into Myth

Vampire Circus jumps 15 years to when the village of Steel is seeing its inhabitants suffering from some form of plague. While some people are convinced that the plague is really Count Mitterhaus’s curse coming to fruition, others, including the village physician Dr. Kersh, are dismissive of the notion of vampires.

The Circus Of The Night

In the midst of the plague, a mysterious traveling show arrives at the village. The Circus of Night, led by the seductive Emil, enraptures the people of Shtetl with its sideshow acts and guile. As the Vampire Circus continues, Emil is revealed to be finishing his cousin’s business, ensuring that all of his killers’ children suffer death.

Emil and his ghouls face adversaries in Stetl as some of the villagers become suspicious of their presence. One by one, the children die until there is only one left to try to survive the horror of the Vampire Circus.

Combines Vampires With Classic European Fairy Tales

The film is one of the greatest vampire entries in Hammer’s vast film vault dedicated to this creature of the night. The kill count is high, the blood flows like a country stream, and the hypnotic states of both Count Mitterhaus and Emil are enough to lure in vampire film fans from the movie’s opening frames.

Unlike many other vampire films, Vampire Circus creates a backdrop that is like a scene akin to a Brothers Grimm story. The people of Stetl, pulled apart from the rest of the world as a blockade keeps them there during its plague, seems to easily drift into the fantasy world that Emil and his henchmen create for them when his traveling act somehow is able to come to town.

There is plenty of terror and death (more than enough to keep a true fan happy), but also a mystical quality about the movie that only Hammer Studios could fully capture.

A Hammer Classic Streaming For Free


Vampire Circus lends great acting talent through and through, mesmerizing audiences from the beginning when the eyes of Count Mitterhaus are first framed. The film, while lacking Hammer’s usual vampire movie duo of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, is a worthy example of powerful storytelling with plenty of terror around every corner.

Vampire Circus sinks its teeth into you and is easily one of the best 70s horror films.

You can stream Vampire Circus for free with Shout!TV, Crackle, and Tubi, or rent it On Demand through Prime.