‘Circus of the Dead’ (2014) – Movie Review

For clowns, their makeup hides what’s really there. I think that’s why some people are so terrified of them. You never can tell who they are or what their expressions are unless they are up close and by then, it could be too late. What if a group of circus clowns were secretly rapists and murderers and they used their victims in their circus act? What if the crowd was none the wiser and they very well could be the clowns’ next victims? That is the set up for Circus of the Dead.

Circus of the Dead is the long-awaited feature film debut of director Billy “Blood Bill” Pon (Dollboy 2010) from a script that he wrote with Lee Ankrum (Dollboy 2010). The film stars Bill Oberst, Jr (Heir 2015), Parrish Randall (Jacob 2011), Chanel Ryan (Bad Girls Go to Hell 2012), Tiffani Fest (Blood Island 2010), Ryan Clapp (Dollboy 2010), Rusty Edwards, Mike Williams, Kyle Mueller, and Sergio Gracida (Dollboy 2010). The plot follows a group of psychotic clowns who kidnap a man’s daughters and force him to do all manner of fucked up shit if he ever wants to see them again.

Circus of the Dead is most definitely not a film for the easily offended. The villain of the movie, Papa Corn, is a raping murdering psychopath whose choice of victims is motivated by a deck of cards he carries. He and his gang of murderous clowns kidnap and torture their victims and then proceed to use them in their act for the viewing pleasure of an unsuspecting public. After dispatching their latest victim, they set their sights on a family of four. The mother is killed fairly early on and the children are kidnapped. The father is taken, forced to wear clown garb and participate in their blood-soaked reign of terror or he will never see his children again. He is coerced to do all kinds of terrible things to people who honestly did nothing to deserve it.

This film is pretty disturbing and quite gory. Just some of the things in this movie are head smashings via lawn gnomes, slit throats, hands being severed, rape, several gunshots to the head, a head smashed with a mallet, a baby pulled out of its mother’s womb and an exceptionally nasty chainsawing. One of the coolest deaths features a police officer shot with a shotgun flying into the street only to literally explode after being hit by a van full of teenagers, who promptly get slaughtered. I’m still amazed at how quickly it happens and I’m still trying to figure out how they did it.

The acting is great all around with the two high points being Bill Oberst, Jr. as Papa Corn and Parrish Randall as Donald, the father of the missing children. Their back and forth makes the whole movie. It gives you a reason to watch other than the rampant carnage. Oberst, Jr. alternates between calm and composed to menacing and murderous at the drop of a hat and sometimes pulls off both simultaneously. For example, this line he said calmly, “Look… I may be a homicidal serial killer rapist, but I’m not a liar, clown’s honor.” Once you have seen the whole movie, this line carries a sinister meaning. He’s not someone I would want to be stuck in a room with.

Everyone this past year has been talking about Richard Brake’s performance as Doomhead in Rob Zombie’s 31 and how phenomenal it was. Oberst, Jr’s performance as Papa Corn blows that one out of the fucking water. Doomhead couldn’t shut the fuck up long enough to seal the deal but Papa Corn always delivers the goods. Parrish Randall’s performance as the father is genuinely heartbreaking. Not only does he have to find out his wife is cheating on him, but he has to deal with her death and the kidnapping of his children. He is forced to hurt and sometimes kill innocent people, usually with tears in his eyes, just for the chance to see them again.

The ending is like a punch to the gut. It leaves you dazed and struggling for air, shocked and appalled by what you have just witnessed. The after credit sequences has me jacked for a sequel and makes me really want to see Billy Pon’s short film Dollboy, which acts as a prequel to this film.

Final Thoughts:

Circus of the Dead is a supremely fucked up yet highly entertaining film that is not for the easily offended. If you can deal with disturbing content that steps over the line of good taste then I highly recommend it.  If you can’t deal with films of this nature then I highly recommend you don’t waste your time as it will not be an enjoyable experience for you. Grab your copy of Circus of the Dead here!


About Charlie Cargile

Central Illinois based film journalist. Lover of cinema of all varieties but in love with films with an independent spirit. Elder Emo. Cat Dad. Metalhead.

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One comment

  1. Charlie,

    I want to thank you for reviewing CIRCUS OF THE DEAD, and for warning folks that it is pretty graphic. Billy Pon is hardcore! Thank you for the kind words and for all you are doing to help we indie folks who don’t have the millions studio films have get the word out about our movies.

    best to you,

    Bill Oberst Jr.