Sunday, November 11, 2007

circus of kinski


Ok, it took almost two weeks, but here's my first Kinski film review. Was it worth the wait? Actually, no. John Llewellyn Moxey's "Circus of Fear" (1966) is kind of a drag. Though advertised as a horror film, it's really more of a mystery, one of many European films (it was a German, Uk co-production) from the 1960s based on the whodunnit novels of British author Edgar Wallace. No doubt the horror ruse has to do with the presence of Christopher Lee in the film (he also starred in Moxey's "Horror Hotel"). Though top billed, Lee doesn't appear until fairly late, and doesn't have a hell of a lot to do as a supposedly disfigured lion tamer (he mostly appears from behind a black hood).

That said, "Circus of Fear" starts off pretty strong, with an extended sequence portraying a near-silent London cash heist (Kinski is one of the crooks). This sequence was reasonably effective, but when the action shifts to the investigation following the heist, things slow down to a grinding halt. The action is centered around a circus where some of the money has been tracked to, and a variety of confusing subplots are introduced, including a series of murders by a black masked killer, and something to do with one character's father and another character's father, one of whom killed the other, or something. And plot twists, there's certainly a few plot twists.

Though the film is quite colorful and reasonably stylish, it isn't particularly interesting or involving. The one real bright spot here is Kinski, playing a particularly arrogant young tough (I say young because he looks pretty young, but I think he was already nearly 40 by the time this was shot). Kinski looks a bit like Belomondo here, dressed all in black with a cool sneer and a cigarette forever jutting from his lips. Though he hardly speaks, there's one great dialogue scene where he goes to get a job at the circus, then when they offer him a gig, he refuses to give them his name or number, just saying, "I'll be around." Unfortunately he's killed in the next scene he appears in, so there's really not much room for character development, or even just time to enjoy watching him.

So, yeah, better luck next time. "Circus of Fear" is just kind of blah, though almost worth a quick look for Kinski's few scenes.

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