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Circus of Horrors (1960)

England, 1947. Plastic surgeon Dr Rossiter (Anton Diffring) – a madman obsessed with perfection in women – must beat a hasty retreat to France when one of his patients has ghastly problems with her surgery.

Once there he takes refuge at the crumbling circus of Vanet (Donald Pleasance) whose young daughter had her face badly scarred by bombs during the recent war. Rossiter promises to rectify it in exchange for becoming a partner in the circus.

The surgery is a success, but Vanet is killed after a drunken dance with a bear (or a man in a bear suit!) and Rossiter becomes the owner of the circus.

Fast-forward a decade and the circus has grown into a tremendous success, Rossiter is now calling himself Dr Schuler and Vanet’s little girl has grown up to be a beautiful young woman named Nicole (Yvonne Monlaur).

Schuler is not only using the circus to mask his true identity but also to perform surgery on various female criminals and prostitutes with injurious histories, transforming the once-scarred femmes into raving beauties and star performers in his circus ring.

When the women who want to leave the circus begin dying in freak accidents – earning the circus the nickname “Jinx Circus” – the police begin to suspect the good doctor is responsible.

Superintendent Andrews (Jack Gwillim) sends in Inspector Arthur Ames (Conrad Phillips) posing as a tabloid journalist (he also finds time to seduce several of the big-top beauties).

Meanwhile, Schuler has his hands full with the luscious Melina (Yvonne Romain) who arrives at the circus with a face horribly disfigured by acid, but becomes a ravishing lion tamer, literally busting out of the skimpy outfits she’s given to wear.

The circus used in this movie was that of Billy Smart’s Circus, one of the three big tenting circuses in the United Kingdom at the time of filming. The external scenes were filmed on Clapham Common.

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Dr Schuler/Dr Rossiter
Anton Diffring
Elissa Caro
Erika Remberg
Nicole Vanet
Yvonne Monlaur
Vanet
Donald Pleasence
Angela Jane Hylton
Jane Hylton
Inspector Arthur Ames
Conrad Phillips
Martin
Kenneth Griffith
Magda Von Meck
Vanda Hudson
Melina
Yvonne Romain
Evelyn Morley Finsbury
Colette Wilde
Superintendent Andrews
Jack Gwillim
Edward Finsbury
John Merivale
Nicole (as a child)
Carla Challoner
Inspector Knopf
Peter Swanwick
Dr Morley
William Mervyn

Director
Sidney Hayers