A not very well-known movie from the 1970’s, Vampire Circus, features all the delights of both horror movie and night at the circus. The performance scenes also don’t stop the plot cold, which is always a danger of movies that feature a show within a show. The vampires here are pretty much a package deal, so all of them get the number 10 slot.
The movie begins with a village woman luring a child to be the prey of the vampire Count (not Dracula). The pair are lovers, and have sex after the child is killed. Unfortunately for them, the other villagers (including the woman’s husband) come after them, destroy the Count, strip and whip the woman, and expel her from the village. However, the Count has not been quite destroyed yet and tells her to go to his kinsman Emil.
Years later, the village is in the grip of a mysterious epidemic and under quarantine. The local doctor slips out in order to get help from his colleagues in the city, and somehow The Circus of Night gets in. Featuring a dwarf, a gypsy ring-mistress and her acrobat twin children, a strong man (played by David Prowse), and Emil, who seems to be able to turn into a panther.
There is also a hall of mirrors where the last one is magic. The Burgomeister is sent through free of charge, and he enjoys himself thoroughly until he sees, not his true reflection, but the vampires feasting on his blood reflected in the glass. He has a stroke and dies. The situation goes downhill from there as the villagers panic, the Count shows signs of revival, and the ring-mistress is recognized as the woman expelled from the village years ago.
Interestingly, not everyone involved in the circus is a vampire, but it is not always clear who is or is not, which ups the suspense. But the undead ones have a lot of variety in power and weakness (twin empathy, for example), and they are all rather frightening. The large cast doesn’t detract from effect. In short, check out this circus. It’s to die for (sorry).