Hammer Films’ Vampire Circus is simultaneously one of their best movies and one of their most overlooked. It has an unusual setting (a village that has been quarantined due to the plague), an unusual story (the villagers’ killing of the vampire Count Mitterhaus 15 years previous has led to revenge through the arrival of a traveling circus), and an unusual take on vampire mythology (the vampires can walk in daylight, much like the vampires of Hammer’s Karnstein Trilogy, and can also shape-shift and manipulate reality in ways that aren’t typical tropes of vampire cinema). And all combine to create a horror film that is almost fairy tale-esque in ways that wouldn’t be matched until A Company of Wolves decades later. The film also has a cruel streak a mile wide, and is unafraid to put anyone (innocent women and children included) in danger of death. It also has an unbridled sexuality that was becoming more Hammer’s stock in trade at this point of their oeuvre, but it’s presented in a much more raw and primal fashion than in films like Vampire Lovers or Twins of Evil. And while the effects can at times be cheesy, that’s balanced out by the generally top-notch acting and the aforementioned fairy tale quality of the film’s aesthetic.