Circus of the Dead Blu Ray Review (Dread Central Presents / Epic Pictures)
Circus of the Dead is a 2014 independent horror film directed by “Bloody” Bill Pon (Doll Boy, Mister Fister, & The Stork). He also co-wrote, produced, edited, did visual fx, & the casting for this project! C.O.T.D opens with the clowns getting ready for the circus & the crowd going crazy for them. A quote from the original killer clown John Wayne Gacy is shown. This gives you an idea on what’s to come. You are introduced to the Johnson family which includes Don (played by: Parrish Randall from Chillerama, Jacob, House Call, Slaughter House, & The Quick and the Undead), Tiffany (played by: Chanel Ryan from Hell’s Kitty, Azteq vs the Prowler, Hobgoblins 2, Society, & BASEketball), Alyssa (played by: Jordan Bell), & Hillary (played by: Madi Lane) at their home. Police officer T.C. (played by: Roger Edwards from Freelancers, Captain Phillips, Stop-Loss, & The Guardian) stops in pancake alley # 10 & chats a little with the locals. The charismatic Papa Corn (played by: Bill Oberst Jr from 3 From Hell, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Dis, The Immortal Wars 1/2, Hell’s Kitty, LG15: The Resistance , Scream Queens, Criminal Minds, & Death House) with his group of demented clowns which includes Noodledome (played by: Ryan Clapp from Doll Boy), Mister Blister (played by: Rusty Edwards from Funnel of Darkness & Cowboys from Hell), Jumbo (played by: Mike Williams), & Pepe the Mime (played by: Kyle Mueller) have three girls & Brandon (played by: Jed Duesler from Doll Boy) to torture. They have various instruments of pain including a staple gun, power tools, & a blow torch! The Johnson family decide on going out for a night of fun. They pick the circus & it was definitely the wrong place for some entertainment. The clowns beat Brandon in front of the audience, The crowd think it’s all fake & just for the show but it’s for real.
Papa Corn notices Tiffany in the crowd & makes sure Don wins a contest for the night. Corn sits back & watches his diabolical crew cause destruction like he’s some crazed cult leader. T.C. & Tiffany are having an affair behind Don’s back. Corn creeps through & watches them through the window as they have sex. He gets off to their live performance while licking the glass. The clowns break in after the excitement is over. Corn tortures Tiffany & does his own interrogation for her wicked ways. The kids come home from school to pure chaos. They get captured in sacks. Don comes home to a disaster! The clowns are waiting on him & knocks him out. The whole environment is surrounded by weird & creepy things. Don notices he’s not the only one in this situation as he sees Brandon captured also. These psychopaths tease Don. The police & the local news consider Don the main suspect. Don says he will do anything to save his children. Corn threatens them with one of his favorite creations Doll Boy (played by: Sergio Gracida from Doll Boy)! Corn forces Don in his own clown make up to keep his word from before. He only wants to protect & save his kids so he does something that will stay with him for the rest of his life. The police are even more convinced that Don is the one on a killing spree. This leads to more random acts of violence with horrible results. Don is a hostage to his own sanity. The mass murder continues as you witness a chainsaw chasing clown. Corn, a known rapist shows his clown dick before he plays with a victim. Don tries to prevent his sadistic ways. He gets knocked out & wakes up in a car to his worst possible nightmare imaginable!!!!
I watched & reviewed Pon’s previous short film & prequel Doll Boy (which include a few characters from this film in it) years ago plus the original COTD DVD release. This horror short is available on blu ray for the very first time on this release BTW. I was very impressed by how much Bloody Bill evolved as a film maker in those 4 years when it comes to this production. Circus of the Dead makes 31, the newer IT films & many other bigger “Evil Clown” features look like a watered down version compared to this low budget independent that doesn’t hold back. I’ve seen lots of clown horror in my life & this is honestly the best one that I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s better than Dread Central’s other clown franchise Terrifier but unfortunately it doesn’t get the love & praise that one gets. Speaking of that, since they are both under the same team now I would love to see a Papa Corn vs. Art the Clown movie someday because that would be batshit crazy & pure entertainment. Circus of the Dead even goes past just being a clown horror flick, there’s much more to it. It’s simply one of the highest quality independent films that I’ve watched & reviewed in a long time. I really enjoyed the characters in this. Everything from the script, the acting, the southern rock soundtrack, & the quality special fx by veteran Marcus Koch (100 Tears, Sacrament, American Guinea Pig series, & We Are Still Here) really shine here. I can not wait for the upcoming sequel, Horror fans keep your eyes on Pon because he is one of the bright futures in genre & independent scene today. Bill Oberst Jr as Papa Corn has the potential to be one of the next great horror icons because his performance in this was amazing in this. He was the true highlight for Circus of the Dead. This feature is very under-rated, I hope it gets the attention it deserves now because of this brand new wide blu ray release from Dread Central Presents & Epic Pictures. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Dread Presents & Epic Pictures! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer for the uncensored director’s cut is a huge upgrade compared to the original DVD release that I reviewed years ago on HorrorHeadQuarters.com! Bloody Bill used his low budget wisely on this independent feature & every cent shows up on the screen. The production design & special fx are very impressive here. The English: Dolby Digital 5.1 track also sounds better here when compared to the original home video release. It has an extra kick to it now with this brand new HD version. The dialogue is crystal clear, all the madness is elevated now, & the music has a killer boost to it here. It has English SDH, Spanish, German, & French subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Dread Presents & Epic Pictures! It includes the 2010 horror short & prequel “Doll Boy” on blu ray for the very first time! It’s co-written, edited, produced, & directed by “Bloody” Bill Pon. It opens with the demented Noodledome the Clown (played by: visual fx artist Ryan Clapp from Circus of the Dead) with a yellow van full of kidnapped victims. He drops them all off in a dark dark warehouse that used to be an old Mexican flea market. They are Brandon (played by: Jed Duesler from Earthling & Circus of the Dead), Venus (played by: Venus Monique from Vindication, Genesis, & The Interval), Mr. Newton (played by: Dominic Lopez from Mordy to the Max & Earthling), Lorie (played by: Heather Francell), Raul (played by: Raul Gonzalez from Circus of the Dead), Angela (played by: Adrienne Martinez from Circus of the Dead), Sean (played by: Shawn Black), & Abigail (played by: Samantha Ankrum). This group of misfits includes an asshole, whiny dude, siblings, & a variety of other interesting characters. They are scrambling around lost with barely any light with no where to go. They seen creepy dolls & weird toys all over. The trapped victims start looking around in separate groups. Out of no where you are introduced to the real life monster in this. Doll Boy (played by: Sergio Gracida from Circus of the Dead) attacks the unaware girl with his favorite weapon of choice, the sledge hammer! He bashes her head in & lets the blood spill all over his place. Everyone else is very unconformable in this unknown dirty & bizarre environment. They see Franken-Boy (played by: Drake Ankrum) running around with a creepy mask. They try to catch up with him looking for any information & any help they can get but have no luck. One of the girls crawls through a hole & finds Dead Girl (played by: Angelina Zorilla) laying on a bed plus other human remains. Members of the group start disappearing & dying one by one from the blood thirsty psychopath. They start to panic because they trapped & isolated in this living hell. It leads to a tragic event between the survivors. They find an exit & finally think they can escape this gruesome journey into madness. One notices an opportunity & throws the other under the bus to Doll Boy for a quick distraction! What comes around goes around because it doesn’t work out for this shady individual. What’s NEXT for this disrespectful person? When the “Grindhouse coming attractions” logo comes on before any film it’s generally a good sign for what’s to come! Trailers for “Circus of the Dead” & “Mister Fister” come on before this living nightmare starts. It gets you ready for the mayhem that’s about to takeover your curious vision. The low budget visual style & dark surroundings add to the charm of this independent production. It is reminiscent of the early 80s slashers & the exploitation features that most of us grew up on back in the day during the home video craze. Doll Boy is a newer villain with a cool mask that could easily carry his own franchise in the future which is honestly very rare these days in the horror genre. It’s also the prequel to the great Circus of the Dead & it helped create a unique vibe for the independent scene. Bill Pon’s work reminds us of the old school which cinema is desperately needing more of in today’s releases. Pon used his budget wisely with the the production design, location, music, & special fx. It feels bigger than what it was which is a great accomplishment for this type of production. It’s 27 minutes of pure entertainment, it’s a very fun ride that keeps you focused until the very end. I appreciate any modern day horror that feels like a throwback slasher flick.
It has an “Audio Commentary” with “Bloody” Bill Pon. He goes over all the usual basics & everything expected here when it comes to this audio extra. He chats about how it got started, the story, the cast, reactions, details on scenes, & his experience on it. He is very passionate about Circus of the Dead & the crazy universe that he created. It’s full of all kinds of information & stories about the low budget production. “World Premier at TFW” is brand new to home video when it comes to blu ray (I know it was on the latest DVD release) & it’s a little over 33 minutes. It highlights the feature being promoted at Texas Frightmare Weekend in 2014 with the cast & crew. It shows them signing autographs & interacting with fans. It shows the intro before the screening with several members of the production in attendance. Several people from the con chat about the film & their anticipation for it plus reactions after seeing it. It has various comments from the cast & crew from the horror con. They answer some questions after the film is screened. It shows a variety of celebs that were at Texas Frightmare Weekend. “Circus of the Dead Reunion” is brand new & a little over 36 minutes. It has interviews with director “Bloody” Bill Pon, actors Bill Oberst Jr, Parrish Randall, Chanel Ryan, Rusty Edwards, Tiffani Fest, & various others from the film. They chat about reuniting after all these years at the Cult Classic Convention. They talk about the impact that Circus of the Dead has had on them. They go over their experience on it & seeing it again at this reunion. They bring up the fan base & great reputation it has got during all this time. They go over Bill Pon unique style & working with the director on this. They chat about how important practical fx is compared to today’s standard CGI. Texas Chainsaw Massacre gets mentioned a decent amount here plus the Doll Boy short. They reminisce about their characters & memories of Circus of the Dead. They express their feelings about Pon battling & beating cancer (this part hits me hard because my father has lung cancer & it’s been very rough for my family since it happened). It has a variety of behind the scenes footage during it. It has 6 “Deleted Scenes” featuring cut & extended scenes that run for almost 8 minutes. These are a nice bonus but I definitely see why they didn’t make the final cut for the movie. It has 4 different “Trailers” for Circus of the Dead which includes the brand new one & the originals. This is one of the best independent & clown horror features ever made, it’s a must own for every collection. It’s great to see this under-rated gem get some proper treatment & attention in HD. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!