Film and TV

Five Crazy Carnival/Circus Films with the Midnite Movie Mamacita

When it comes to movie settings, there may be nothing more simultaneously silly and scary than a circus. Andrea Beesley-Brown, a.k.a. the Midnite Movie Mamacita, understands this and appreciates the seedy side of a sideshow. It's why she's showing the film The Last Circus at The Royale in Mesa this weekend.

"It's not a horror film," Beesley-Brown says. "It's a crazy kind of a love story, but also a war movie."

Partly set in Spain in 1937 (during the Spanish Civil War), The Last Circus follows the story of a bizarre love triangle between Sad Clown, Happy Clown, and Natalia the acrobat. Though there are plenty of shocking scenes in the film (the trailer is NSFW), the movie's actually classified as a comedy.

"The circus is such an interesting genre," Beesley-Brown says. "On the outside, it's supposed to be fun and family-friendly, but carneys are reputed to be kind of sleazy. It's an interesting dichotomy."

After the jump, check out the trailer for The Last Circus and read about five other circus/carnival movies Beesley-Brown digs.

The Last Circus (2010, Tornasol Films) Showing Saturday, September 16 through Thursday, September 22 at The Royale, 108 W. Main Street in Mesa. Call 480-649-0040 or visit for more information.

5. Santa Sangre
(1989, Produzioni Intersound)
"It's directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. If he had a cult, I'd totally join it," Beesley-Brown says. "He's fascinated by Tarot cards and mysticism. This movie tells the story of a circus family, and a child whose father cheated on his mother with the tattooed lady. It's very surreal. It has circus animals, clowns -- it's one of the whackiest movies you'll ever see."

4. Freaks (1932, MGM)
"This was made in the pre-Hollywood Code era, and it's amazing how racy it is," Beesley-Brown says. "It's a love story gone terribly wrong...ultimately, sideshow performers revolt against the trapezist. The movie's only 64 minutes, but has the most amazing people in it -- real sideshow performers. It's a true exploitation film."

3. The Funhouse (1981, Mace Neufeld Productions/Universal Pictures)
"This was directed by Tobe Hooper, who also did Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Beesley-Brown says. "It's a total '80s slasher film. Two couples sneak into the carnival at night and get trapped in the funhouse. It's a typical slasher flick -- 'Oh, look at the girl getting chased around the funhouse' -- and pretty campy, too."

2. Vampire Circus (1972, Hammer Film Productions)
"In this movie, there's a 19th century village that has to remain contained because of the plague, and the circus comes to town, but they're all vampires," Beesley-Brown says. "It combines two crazy things: vampires and circuses."

1. Circus of Horrors (1960, Lynx Films Ltd.)
"This was also known as Phantom of the Circus," Beesley-Brown says. "It's about a plastic surgeon who comes to own a circus, and performs plastic surgery on disfigured women to make them beautiful. So we have plastic surgery at the circus, plus trapeze acts and circus fun. It's a British cult classic."

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea