As if ‘IT’ hadn't traumatized my specifically phobic self enough, Billy ‘Bloody Bill’ Pon had to come along and drop the at times hilarious, often nauseating and frequently lock-your-doors disturbing Circus of the Dead.
Circus of the Dead centers around a travelling troupe of clowns led by super perv Papa Corn (played by the horrifyingly talented Bill Oberst Jr) who roam the nation picking targets to fit their bizarre playing card game (“Its like Mexican Bingo”), and all their demented fetishes. Though, mostly Papa Corns.
Once Papa has picked his targets for the nights revelry, the unfolding brutal massacre is THE MOST intensely disturbing I've seen on screen in…possibly ever. Its the casual approach that gives it the most impact, as if these terribly disgusting, gut wrenching, and generally horrifying acts against fellow man are nothing - just another Tuesday. If you’ve a weak stomach, anything past minute 30 is going to be rough for you.
NO SPOILERS HERE, but the nearly 2 hour run time will fly by – with good reason. Papa Corn has a very specific plan for our main man.
Beyond the base concept of murderous clowns, I was completely unprepared for what was to follow. As I often do, when I first heard about Circus of the Dead (through our good friend Brad Potts, who plays Trooper Weaver in the film) I decided that I wanted to know as little as I could before reviewing – it makes for a more genuine reaction and review. After talking more with those involved (Chanel Ryan, who plays Tiffany Johnson) my excitement began to grow…but within the first 15 minutes I was already making creamed corn in my drawers, hooting and hollering like a damn ape - with equal parts joy and disgust.
Can we talk about Papa Corn for a moment, and Bill Oberst Jr.’s jaw dropping and HAUNTING performance? Homicidal serial rapist extraordinaire, Papa can be oddly quiet, well spoken, vaguely feminine and even gentle – and yet, at the drop of a hat (or in this case a pair of panties) he flips to blind sexual rage with a ferocity that is frightening.
And it really is Papa here that steals the show. While there are many stellar performances throughout (Chanel Ryan, Brad Potts i’m lookin at YOU!) Bill Oberst Jr proves once and for all that he is a consummate character actor. While the subject matter may be downright appalling – by the way, Billy Pon, thanks ever so much for questioning my sanity because I loved this movie – you’ll find yourself thoroughly engrossed, and eagerly awaiting the next, assuredly epic, scene.
TL;DR 9/10 – Never has a movie so thoroughly bothered me, disturbed me, and made me scream ‘WHAT the F’ as Circus of the Dead has. And I had a smile on my face the whole time.
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I sat down with the director for an interview. Check it out!