During conventions and festivals, a lot of fans talk to me about Donald Pleasence and Yvonne Romain.
They’re both recognized actors, thanks to their important career in horror and fantasy movies.
Pleasence was my father in CIRCUS OF HORRORS, but the mysteries of the production planning prevented me from meeting him on the set. On the other hand, I met Yvonne Romain in the cafeteria. She was a beautiful lady, and we sympathized during the rare moments of rest allowed by the shooting schedule. We did not have enough common scenes to be able to know each other better.
There was a rehearsal manager, today’s « coach », to prepare the actors for their scenes.
Thanks to this, at shooting time, the director could better concentrate on staging, camera angles and photography.
While shooting progressed, I was surprised to see some of my close-ups abandoned by the director in favor of wider shots. I quickly realized that Erika Remberg was no stranger to these changes, and found out that she was quite influential on Hayers.
I only recently discovered (consulting IMDB) that she had become his wife after this movie. She had a privileged position, which she expressed in an authoritative and exclusive way. To get to the point, I was a threat to her ! It was the first time in my career that I was faced with such a situation. An ego conflict, tolerating no other feminine co-star. Today, thinking about this again, I find it laughable and feel she must have had much to worry about : a lot of the film’s appeal was its large cast of important and “glamourous” feminine characters.
Beauty was the main theme of CIRCUS OF HORRORS. Fabricated beauty which can never conceal the ugliness of the soul. In one of the most spectacular final scenes, Dr Rossiter discovers with fright that his accomplices refused to operate on his face, disfigured by a gorilla. Rossiter/Diffring bursts in the tent where I am with Conrad Philips during the finale, furious-looking and hideous.
That make-up was one of the masterpieces of Trevor Crole-Rees (1). It took him three hours to transform Anton Diffring.
He pulled up one of his eyes with some glue, a special varnish and invisible gauze. His mouth was pulled in the opposite direction. He also had to put on contact lenses which gave him a washed-out look.
I did not take part in the film’s promotion (2). When CIRCUS OF HORRORS was released, I was in Germany, shooting with Arnoldo Foà in an episode of an Italo-American series, TALES OF THE VIKINGS, called THE HAREM DANCER.
I only saw CIRCUS OF HORRORS a few months later and found it a very good surprise. Direction was on par with the script.
1- He worked on classics such as THE ABOMINABLE DR PHIBES and DR JECKYLL AND SISTER HYDE.
2- An important promotion campaign with a lot of marketing (records, books, comics trips)