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Monday, May 18, 2015

Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest (TIO Edition)

The BB&C Blogfest


On May 18, 2015, post about a movie, television show, book, or all three that falls into the category of Blood, Boobs, and Carnage. (Or just Blood and Carnage or other mixture.) It can be any genre that fits the bill – fantasy, science fiction, action, adventure, western, thriller, etc. Post the badge and visit other participants.  This Blogfest is hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner.   See their sites for the Linky List of other participants.

Circus of Horrors

Circus of Horrors
Circus of Horrors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       My contribution to the Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest actually is a two parter that begins with my May 15th post for the Battle of the Bands.   I invite you to visit that post and vote on your favorite version of the song "Look for a Star" which was introduced in my Blogfest pick of the film Circus of Horrors.

         Circus of Horrors is a British film that was released in 1960.  The plot involves a rogue plastic surgeon who is presumed to have been killed after a car crash while being pursued by the police.  He manages to escape the burning car, making his way to a nearby house where with the help of a brother and sister team who are his surgical assistants, his face is restored giving him a new appearance. The three escape to France to find a place to go into hiding.

         They find cover in a run down financially troubled circus after restoring the badly disfigured face of the owner's young daughter.  Shortly after the circus owner draws up an agreement that will place the circus in the doctor's name, the owner is killed by a trained dancing bear leaving the young daughter and the circus in the doctor's charge.

       Not long after the doctor has taken ownership of the circus, he develops a devious plan.  He seeks out once beautiful young women whose faces have been scarred and maimed and who have fallen into lifestyles of prostitution, thievery, and criminal activities.   He restores their beauty through his artful skills in plastic surgery and gives them refuge from the law as they become stars in his Circus of Beauty.

        Ten years after acquiring the circus, the doctor has turned it into the most famous circus in Europe with a roster of beauties as his star performers.  After a series of mysterious deaths, the circus has gained a nickname from the media as "The Jinx Circus" or "The Circus of Horrors".   This is where the fun begins with jealousy, intrigue and, of course, blood, boobs, and carnage.  The circus costumes provide ample opportunity to show off beautiful women, however there is no nudity.  The sexuality and the gore are very mild by today's standards.  If the current film rating system were used this would easily get by with a PG-13.

        Circus of Horrors is not too bad of a film.  It has an interesting story line.  The acting is decent for the most part.  The make up effects aren't too cheesy.  The murderous dancing bear and the gorilla are as about as stupid and fake as anything I've seen in a movie, but fortunately their roles are minuscule. And for me the most memorable part of the film is the repeated playing of the hit song "Look for a Star" as sung by Garry Mills.  That song never left my head after I'd seen this movie.  It's a song that I greatly enjoy to this day.

      I now own not only the DVD copy of the film, but also two CD's with different but very similar sounding versions of that great pop tune "Look for a Star".

When I First Saw this Film

      Actually I'm a bit hazy on when I first saw this film.  I'm pretty sure it would have been in 1964, probably in the summer or fall of that year.  My father used to take me on occasional Saturday adventures--kind of like a father and son togetherness thing I guess.  Most of these outings I recall from when we lived in San Diego.  Once it was attending a Chargers game.  Then there was a time when we went to an old bookstore downtown where he bought me a used 1910 copy of Tom Swift and his Airship.  One time we even headed down to Tijuana where he got me a cheap haircut and then we went to eat at a Mexican restaurant, which is something my mother would have never been willing to do--eat in a restaurant in Tijuana that is.

      Our movie theater excursion was after we had moved to Crown Point, Indiana.   Circus of Horrors was apparently being shown for a Saturday matinee as I remember that we went in the daytime.  I'm guessing the theater might have been in Hammond, Indiana or somewhere near there.  It was a big old theater that had probably been there since the 1930's or so.   Being a Saturday matinee there were mostly young people in attendance.  To my recollection the auditorium was about a quarter full.   My father was probably the oldest guy there--he would have been about 40 at the time.  We grabbed seats toward the rear middle of the left side of the auditorium.

        As a rule my father would have never gone to a horror movie.  That was something that my mother might be prone to do, but not my father.  However if anything about the circus was involved he was ready to go see it.   He was always hoping to catch at least a glimpse of a juggler. In this movie he was to be disappointed as there were no jugglers.  The film itself was actually shot on location with a British circus so there was plenty of authentic circus footage.

        Besides the featured song "Look for a Star" the most memorable thing for me about going to see this movie was after one of the "gory" scenes there was a commotion in the front right section of the theater.  It was quite a distance from us so we couldn't see what was happening, but the news quickly passed to those of us toward the back that some girl had thrown up.  The film was momentarily stopped and lights brought up as the ushers attended to the situation.

         Now in retrospect I wonder if that whole commotion scene was more of a stunt to get word of mouth going to get more people to come to the later showings.  I can't say for sure, but back then it was not unusual for something like that to happen at a horror film showing.  On occasion they would even have someone dressed like a doctor or nurse visible in the lobby to attend to anyone who might suffer from attacks of fright.

Here's a clip from the film during the first time "Look for a Star" is played:




        And now if you haven't voted in my Battle of the Bands post please go now to pick your favorite version of the song "Look for a Star".   You can find that post here.

         Have you seen the film Circus of Horrors?    Did you ever go to the special matinee showings of second run films?    If you don't like circuses, why not?

       

95 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this film, but it sounds interesting. None of the restored women were clowns, I presume, lol. Good choice for this, I had no idea from the BotB. I do love a circus, and I'm not afraid of clowns. Tigers and bears, and mice, but clowns are cool. And jugglers :)

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    1. Dolorah, there were clowns but none were restored beautiful women and there were no prominent clown characters in the plot. Clowns can be creepy, but they're still fun.

      Lee

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  2. Great review, Lee! As I told you before, I saw Circus of Horrors in a theater at the age of ten and have watched it at least five more times since then. It remains one of my favorite movies of any genre. I was very happy when Circus of Horrors was released on DVD and pleased with the picture quality of the transfer. To say there weren't any jugglers in the film is inaccurate. Rossiter routinely juggled several women at the same time. :) That brings me to one of my main points about C.O.H. By 1960 standards it was pretty racy stuff for kids to be watching. The flick was loaded with mature dialogue, sexy situations, overflowing cleavage and graphic violence and gore. It was easily the most adult oriented motion picture I had seen to date and it left an indelible impression on me. So did the theme song "Look For a Star." That brings me to my second point. The juxtaposition of beauty and sheer terror is a stroke of brilliance in movie making and it was perfectly executed in Circus of Horrors. The tender love ballad "Look for a Star" set the mood and lulled audiences into thinking they were going to sit back and enjoy a beautiful woman performing an aerial act high above the ring. There were no eerie sound effects or suspense music to tip them off that a deadly mishap was about to take place before their eyes. Today, every time I hear the first few notes of "Look For a Star," I tense up and flash back to that circus of horrors.

    Thanks again, Lee, and enjoy your Monday!

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    1. Shady, I agree that they did a good job with the DVD transfer. I especially enjoyed the added feature of the photo gallery of promotional posters,etc.

      Yes, there indeed was that figurative juggling of women by Rossiter which lead to much of the carnage. The film was definitely mature for it's time, but I guess by the time I saw it the content was more commonplace. The circus does make for a good juxtaposition of fun and horror. Lots of opportunities for accidents witnessed by terrified screaming onlookers. And menacing animals and potentially menacing clowns!

      The filmmakers used the song "Look for a Star" to excellent advantage. And you're right about avoiding the eerie music to cue our emotional reaction like is typically done in films today.

      I had only seen Circus of Horrors that one time in the theater before finding the DVD copy a few years ago. I was surprised how well the film holds up to modern viewing (we except for the dancing bear and the gorilla). That film stuck with me vividly through the years.

      thanks for the comprehensive comment.

      Lee

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  3. I can well remember this film Lee. Great horror film but oh that song sang by Gary Mills was and still is excellent. How they could have such a lovely song connected to that film baffled me.
    Great post. Gary Mills gets my vote....again.

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    1. Yvonne, the song was used well in its context I thought. The aerial act needed music of that nature and a good pop song was a smart move. Nothing like having a hit song to draw teens to the theater back in those days.

      Lee

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    1. Scots Lass, I've seen creepier films, but this is good 60's horror in the Hammer Studios tradition.

      Lee

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  5. Your mother liked horror but not your father? Odd reversal there. Never seen this one, but it sounds very unique.
    Thanks for participating in our blogfest!

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    1. Alex, my mother liked good scary stories, but my father was either sports or show biz.

      Lee

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  6. The horror came more from the story lines than explicit violence and gore in the films of that era. Haven't seen this particular one, sounds very intriguing from your review.

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    1. Nilanjana, that's very true. Gore and on screen violence came about the same time as extensive coverage of the Viet Nam war on TV started. I don't know if there is a real correlation, but that's the time line. Like sex, violence and gore was often more implied than seen.

      Lee

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  7. I don't remember it very well, but I'm pretty sure I've seen Circus of Horrors. Great pick.

    My Blood, Boobs, and Carnage

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    1. Bob, I've never seen this film playing on TV, but you might have caught it in the theater or video.

      Lee

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  8. I never saw the movie but I'm not a fan of the horror genre anyway, and no, I don't like circuses. I think they are creepy, dark and sinister. When I was little, a relative gave me a book about circuses and most of the pics were old posters and I found them really really scary. The freaks and clowns....I didn't even like the acrobats or animals. And now I just think the animal part is cruel.

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    1. JoJo, having grown up around the circus and show business culture I have a very different view of the circus, but I know a lot of people share your feelings about it.

      Lee

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  9. First time I've heard of this one. I can image the murderous dancing bear is pretty fake for a movie of that time haha

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    1. Pat, the bear and gorilla would give a special effects guy today nightmares. No one would want to be responsible for such bad costumes or effects as these were. A sad low point of an otherwise not so bad film.

      Lee

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  10. Somebody threw up? Was it really that graphic?

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    1. No, Diane, not really that graphic. Might have been a matter of too much popcorn and soda. Or I still suspect the promotional gimmick as I don't know if anyone actually saw any, uh, shall we say, mess.

      Lee

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  11. I haven't seen this film, but it sounds really good.

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    1. Chrys, if you're a fan of the circus or plastic surgery you might like this.

      Lee

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  12. Were the series of mysterious deaths among the circus performers or the audience members? At least this horror film sounds like it has a plot. There are plenty today that do not. I haven't been to a circus in ages, but I am rereading Water For Elephants, again, for the third, fourth time? Can't remember.

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    1. Tamara, the deaths were all beautiful surgically enhanced female circus performers (aside from the circus owner killed by the dancing bear). The film did have a plot and it was fairly logical. I've got to read Water for Elephants and see the film.

      Lee

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  13. Great share, I seen this film once many years ago... it's now something I need to revisit soon. Somewhere I have the score from it, it might be a compilation...

    Jeremy [THE WOLF]
    Howlin' Wolf Records: On-Line Magazine

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    1. Jeremy, the score must be "Look for a Star" playing repeatedly with some traditional circus music interspersed throughout.

      Lee

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  14. I have not seen this movie, Lee, but I will see if I can find it on streaming. I loved going to the circus as a kid, and thought about going again as an adult, but haven't yet done it. Maybe next winter when Ringling Brothers come back to town I'll go. By today's standards this movie I'd say is less offensive of the three elements ~ blood, boobs, and carnage, but I'm sure at the time of its release eye brows were raised. lol Anywho, thanks for the intro!

    Enter mature audience only #bloodboobscarnage

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    1. Cathy, compared to a lot of films now Circus of Horrors is almost like a kid's film. But it's classic for the era.

      Lee

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  15. Haven't seen that one. But a gorilla and bear fight? Yeah, that does sound cheesy. Maybe give them knives or something.

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    1. Actually, Stephen, the gorilla and bear don't fight with each other, but they are dangerous to humans.

      Lee

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  16. This sounds like a fun movie. Some of the best horror movies are laugh out loud funny. I would see this for the killer dancing bear alone! It's interesting how they used to plant "doctors" in the theaters. I'm glad you weren't sitting near that girl in case it wasn't really an act. This was a nice story about the special moments you shared with your dad, Lee.

    Julie

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    1. Yeah, Julie, I tend not to deal well with people throwing up, though after raising kids my reaction to it did become more tolerant. I've seen movie posters from the 50's and 60's that advertised that medical personnel would be on hand to handle emergencies resulting from the shock of the film. I guess it would raise the curiosity factor.

      Lee

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  17. I like some vintage movies. This one sounds interesting.

    Precious Monsters

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    1. Jolie, I especially like the circus aspect, but then again that's not something everyone cares for much.

      Lee

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  18. I haven't seen it but it sounds pretty great.

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    1. SL, don't know if "great" is the right adjective as far as film rating is concerned, but it is great fun I think.

      Lee

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  19. This is intriguing, and I would watch it. Netflix?

    Clowns are creepy to me. If the clowns were taken out of the circus, I'd like it better.

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    1. Susan, I'm not sure that the film is on Netflix, but I would imagine it would be. Some clowns are creepy, but in the context of their circus routines they can be fun. Not sure why so many people are creeped out by clowns.

      Lee

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  20. I have not seen this film but would love to!!The horror films from this era hold something special even with the man in the ape suit or bear suit. There was always something devilish about to happen. You saw this film the year I was born which is kind of cool

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    1. Funny, Birgit, that I might have been watching this film with my Dad about the time you were born. I do like that much in films back then was inferred instead of every detail being shown.

      Lee

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  21. After reading your post and watching the clip, I'm pretty sure I saw this movie, decades ago! Must look for it online. How nice that you and your father had those times together. Did you like living in San Diego? My parents moved there in the 70s and I've been there many times. It's a real paradise, at least from a visitor's viewpoint. Good choice for the Blogfest!

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    1. I loved San Diego. That was from 3rd grade until right before I started 7th. It was a great place for a kid at that time of the city's growth. I wish I remembered more of those father/son times as now they are vague to me.

      I did see where the film is online.

      Lee

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    2. I bet San Diego has changed a lot from when you were a kid, Lee. It's still a fabulous place and the climate is as near to perfect as there is, IMO. I'm going to watch this movie again, for sure!

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    3. It is a great city, but so much bigger and more developed than it was when we lived there. I wish my parents had hung on to the house they bought brand new for $18,000 in 1959. Now it's priced at over $500,000!

      Lee

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  22. That sounds like a movie that needs a remake.

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    1. Andrew, they could probably remake it better in a lot of ways though they'd probably add so much sex and graphic gore that it might lose something in the transition. And circus isn't quite as popular now as it was then.

      But I would like to see what they could do now with the film. I'll bet the dancing bear and the gorilla would be awesome.

      Lee

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  23. It has been YEARS since I have seen this. I never saw it the theatres but caught it late night one night.

    Awesome choice!

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    1. Timothy, cool that it was on television. I've never seen where it was playing on the boob tube, which is nothing to do with the blogfest.

      Lee

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  24. Hmm, I'm certainly learning about a whole bunch of movies today! I'd never heard of this one, either, but it definitely sounds interesting.

    I've never been one for circuses, mostly because of the animal abuse involved.

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    1. JH, some of the animal abuse charges I think have been blown out of proportion. The trainers that I was around in circuses seemed very caring about their animals. After all it was their livelihood.

      Lee

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  25. Its amazing how she stands on the edge of the rope like that.

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    1. Spaceguy, it must not be overly difficult to do that rope thing though since in many big circuses they'll have 8 to 12 girls doing the same routine at the same time.

      Lee

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  26. Circuses have so much potential for so many kinds of stories. Off the top of my head, other horror-themed circus films I can think of are The Unknown (1927, with Lon Chaney, Sr., and Joan Crawford), Freaks (1932), and HE Who Gets Slapped (1924, Lon Chaney, Sr.). I can't help but wonder if the actors in these old films were really scared of such obvious people in gorilla suits, or if they were just putting it on for the camera.

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    1. Carrie-Anne, I agree that the circus provide a great back-drop for so many kinds of stories. Circus movies used to be very popular, but not so much any more.

      Lee

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  27. Hadn't even heard of this one before, but totally want to check it out now. Thanks for sharing it! :D

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    1. Liesel, hope to hear some thoughts from anyone who does watch this film. It's a gem from another era.

      Lee

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  28. What wonderful memories of times shared with your Dad. It reminded me of a movie my Dad took me to see when I was a kid -- it was one of those wilderness movies, I can't recall the name of it right off the top of my head but it will come to me.
    This was definitely a neat pick for the BB&C. Circuses have never been my thing -- I don't like any circus that uses live animals but the ones that don't, like the Cirque do Soleil kinds, look fascinating. Clowns really freak me out so I stay clear of anything that has clowns. They give me the creeps so bad! Funny how that is, people are either really into clowns or really hate clowns.
    I'll have to keep an eye out for this movie. And being that I never saw it, I could've never guessed the Look for a Star movie.
    Great pick!
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Yes, Michele, clowns definitely have fans and non-fans. My parents used to take us to a lot of movies together as a family and though I remember going to many films with just my mother, Circus of Horrors is the only movie I can recall going to with just my Dad.

      Lee

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  29. Hi Lee.
    In 1980, this movie played on an old TV station, all weekend. I watched it three times, with my trusty blanket. I thought that was one boo-boo scary movie. So naturally when I hit your movie clip and the song started to play... I wanted my blanket! How did I forget this one?

    That and the movie with Burt Lancaster and his wingman show. Do you know that one?

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    1. Dixie, not sure about the Burt Lancaster film. If it was circus movie then I'm guessing you might be talking about Trapeze. In his career before the movies Lancaster was a circus performer.

      Glad you know Circus of Horrors and I hope the scare was fun for you.

      Lee

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    2. The Burt Lancaster movie was 'Gypsy Moths.'

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  30. "Look For A Star" is a very beautiful song. My urchin hero, Victor Standish, was waiting for her to go SPLAT from a jealous lover or wife unraveling that rope!

    The original HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL had the gimmick of a literal skeleton sliding down a rope over the audience during one horrific scene. I remember the audience going crazy during that stunt! :-)

    My own CARNIVAL OF THE DAMNED has young Victor trying to survive a booby-trapped trapeze act. A circus and a carnival are great places in which to set a horror story!

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    1. Roland, circuses can have a scary side so they do make good backgrounds for horror and intrigue.

      The video is the first time "Look for a Star" is used in the film. It's used in similar circumstances another couple of times so the "splat" still is an option.

      Lee

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  31. I had never heard of this movie until last week when I googled your song to see what movie it came from. Now, I admit I almost want to see it just to get a peek at that dancing bear. I don't have that strange 'clown fear' or anything like that, but have always thought the circus was a tad bit creepy. Can't explain it, but I just do. Perfect backdrop for BB&C.

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    1. FAE, the bear is about as cheesy bad as anything I've seen this side of an Ed Wood movie. The circus is a place of mystery and imagination so the fear factor is probably a natural element of it all.

      Lee

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  32. Never been much of a horror fan, but growing up I spent every weekend at the local cinema. There were no multiplex in those days, we just watched the same film 3, 4 or 5 times in a row. Our mother didn't care what movie was being shown, we were out of her hair for awhile.

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    1. Jeffrey, I never watched films more than once at the theater but often they had double features that also included cartoons and newsreels. For a quarter we'd get a few hours of fun entertainment.

      Lee

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  33. Never heard of this movie before, though it sounds interesting.

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    1. MRR, I was looking for a film no one else would pick.

      Lee

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  34. I've not heard of this movie. I am not a big fan of horror movies either so I probably wouldn't have watched it if I had the opportunity.
    I do love the circus.

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    1. Kat, you might not mind this one as it is actually pretty light on horror and has a lot of circus. It's an old school horror film.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Road trippin' with A to Z
      Tossing It Out

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  35. Haven't heard of this one, but a murderous dancing bear sounds pretty scary, even if it looks cheesy. Special effects have come so far, but now some movies are all special effects.

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    1. TBM, it's gotten to the point where I sometime OD on the effects and pine for a good story.

      Lee

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  36. WHOA. I haven't seen it. It sounds like it fits the blogfest. I write about bears in picture books. Not this kind. Hope to watch it.

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    1. Yes, Robyn, this film fits the Blogfest description other than maybe not so much carnage. The movie poster certainly promises blood, boobs, and carnage.

      Lee

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  37. Sounds like a fascinating movie with a fun premise :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

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    1. Csenge, it is a fun premise for a horror film and I believe something similar has been used in other films.

      Lee

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  38. I've never heard of this movie, but actually, it looks like it might be something I'd like! I'll have to check it out. Thanks Lee! Lisa @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. Lisa, aside from the gorilla and bear, the film is pulled off pretty well and the concept is interesting.

      Lee

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  39. I think I already said on BoTB that I hadn't seen this movie (still haven't), but I fully understand why it made such an impression. For it's time... very scary... and a nice memory with your dad. Makes you realize how special it is when a parent takes Time Out with their kid(s). Those became cherished memories in adulthood.

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    1. Robin, I took those father/son outings for granted and pushed them to the back of my mind. Now I wish he were around where I could talk to him about those times.

      Lee

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  40. Circus of Horrors sounds so interesting! I love old b&w movies or color. There just plain fun, even if they're a bit creepy and filled with demented plastic surgeons.

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    1. Jennifer, I agree that there is something special about the older movies. I think a slower pacing with less need to dazzle the audience with rapid fire action and effects allows a story to unfold better.

      Lee

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  41. This sounds so freaky! What an interesting pick! You have the most interesting things to share with us and the way you tell us is a story all its own. :)
    THANK YOU for joining Alex and me in this EPIC blogfest!
    Heather M. Gardner

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    1. Thank you, Heather, for your kind words. This Blogfest brought back a lot of memories for me.

      Lee

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  42. I have not seen that movie. I'm not really a fan of horror films. It's interesting that theaters used to pull stunts like that to get visitors. I guess without today's internet and media, they had to find some way to get everyone's attention.

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    1. Elizabeth, I don't know that the crazy promotional stunts have stopped, but they have become more sophisticated. I recall how someone would always seem to feint at an Obama rally and he'd throw them a water bottle and give instructions on what to do. According to some media sources that was a promotional stunt. Maybe.

      Lee

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  43. I totally want to see this film. I love the whole circus vibe. Right now I'm reading Geek Love, a novel by Katherine Dunn about a tight circus family who breed freaks and the hijinks that ensue. Quite a weird novel ,but one of the best I've read. The Night Circus was pretty good, too, but Geek Love seems more in the vein of this movie. nice choice.

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    1. Shell Flower, I'm familiar with Night Circus but not Geek Love. I need to check out both.

      Lee

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  44. I've never seen it but it sounds like a ball!

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    1. Beverly, it's fun old school entertainment.

      Lee

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  45. I haven't seen this, but it sounds like it would be interesting. I don't do circuses because of animal treatment I saw at the one I went to as a child. I realize it's probably (hopefully) better now, but it's something that's stuck with me, and I just can't bring myself to go when the circus is in town.

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    1. Shannon, I think the stores of animal abuse are in many cases mythologies perpetuated by over zealous animal activists who seem to think all animals should just have free reign. I can't say that I've ever seen any animal cruelty in a circus and what some people think they've seen might be no more cruelty than someone's roughhouse play with their pet dog. Nature is probably far crueler to animals than captivity is.

      But that's just my view on this. I haven't done any research into the subject so I'm not going to claim anything near expert status.

      Lee

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  46. I haven't seen it. But I knew you'd rock out some awesomeness for this hop. Sure enough, you have. WTG!
    And thanks for visiting mine.

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    1. J, And thanks for visiting back. Yeah, life's always a circus for me.

      Lee

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Lee