On the way into the big black top I was charged by a zombie waving a chain saw, and taking the steps to my seat I felt a werewolf nuzzle my leg; this was not going to be an ordinary night out. Before you load up with silver bullets and holy water, I must point out that it was a traditional welcome from Circo de Los Horrores at their blood curdling circus in Santa Cruz.
Circus was never a favourite of mine as a kid and the undead have a pretty bad image so what a good idea to give them a fair crack of the ringmaster’s whip by combining the two. Not that there was a ringmaster here. Our guide and MC was Nosferatu the vampire, fresh from his coffin. The pale, blood-drained one had some strange friends; as I settled into my seat a gravedigger with a spare head bursting forth dragged his shovel on the floor outside the ring and that chainsaw buzzed around my ear while I was distracted by a blood stained nurse with a knife big enough to outdo any politician’s NHS cuts.
The circus ring was marked out with a pentangle and decorated by grave stones and piles of yucky skulls with the cemetery gates doubling as a gateway to hell. There wasn’t much room for the performers but a decaying mummy made good use of it by rotating and spinning inside an iron wheel. Grimo the killer clown made his entrance and plucked a victim from the audience to humiliate and torture with a king size syringe. It was enough to have some of the audience squirming and screaming but the children in the crowd were loving it.
One of my favourites was the possessed children tucked up in bed before writhing above the covers in tortured positions performed by two female contortionists. Even a sweet, innocent looking young nanny turned out to be a murderous soul thrown into a coffin and set alight by Nosferatu. The fire juggling that followed was as expert as the Spanish bolas ( metal balls on chains) being spun and lashed in a frenzy.
A short break allowed the living part of the big top crowd to get our breath back and the second half opened with another clown, Enric, luring out a lady from the front row to ride in his imaginary car. Some daring climbing and twirling by the Black Widow on a sash suspended from the ceiling showed off some traditional circus skills and Grimo and Devora followed up with a bit of guillotine action.
In the first half they had gone straight for the jugular but the horror theme wasn’t as strong in the second half. The slow motion acrobatics with a hangman and prisoner showed great control but a lengthy return from Enric the clown lost the tension. Some of the grisly characters could have been used more but it was all ghoulish fun and a very enjoyable two hours.
Photos 1, 3 and 4 above © Circo de Los Horrores
Circo de Los Horrores until 9 December.
Thursdays 8.30 pm, Fridays & Saturday 7& 10 pm, Sundays 5 & 8 pm. Extra shows 4 Dec 8.30 pm, 5 Dec 7 & 10 pm, 6 Dec 7 & 10 pm.
Parque Maritimo car park, next to the Auditorium.
Tickets from 15 to 38 euros from the big top office or online