Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

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Cirque du Freak:
The Vampire's Assistant
Vampires assistant.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Weitz
Produced byLauren Shuler Donner
Paul Weitz
Ewan Leslie
Andrew Miano
Screenplay byPaul Weitz
Brian Helgeland
Based onVampire Blood
by Darren Shan
Music byStephen Trask
CinematographyJ. Michael Muro
Edited byLeslie Jones
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • October 23, 2009 (2009-10-23)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[2]
Box office$39.2 million[2]

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is a 2009 American fantasy film based on the Vampire Blood trilogy of the book series The Saga of Darren Shan by author Darren Shan. The film received mixed reviews and was a commercial failure.


16-year-old Darren Shan and his best friend Steve Leonard visit the Cirque du Freak freak show. During the performance, Steve recognizes one of the troupe's members, Larten Crepsley, as a vampire, prompting him to try to find Crepsley after the show. Simultaneously, Darren, fascinated by Crepsley's spider, Madam Octa, impulsively steals her. Before he can leave, he is forced to hide as Crepsley returns to his room. Steve arrives, begging to be made into a vampire, but Crepsley refuses after tasting Steve's blood, which he says "tastes of evil". When Crepsley realizes that Madam Octa has been stolen, Darren flees from the theater with Crepsley hot on his trail. He gets away only when the mysterious Mr. Tiny arrives in his limousine, accompanied by the mad Vampaneze Murlough. The latter is unimpressed with Darren, dismissing him as a "bag of blood", but Tiny is greatly impressed, and promises to "be in touch" after dropping Darren off at home.

The next day, while at school Steve discovers Darren heard the conversation between Steve and Crepsley, forcing Darren to admit he overheard what Steve said to Crepsley. Steve makes Darren let him have a closer look at Madam Octa but the bell rings making Steve drop the cage allowing the spider to escape. After a brief struggle in the crowded hallway Madam Octa bites Steve and escapes, leaving Steve to slowly succumb to her deadly venom in the hospital. Becoming desperate, Darren returns to the theater and begs Crepsley for help. Initially annoyed and contemptuous, Crepsley agrees only if Darren becomes a half-vampire and Crepsley's personal assistant. Darren agrees, only to flee as soon as Crepsley administers an antidote to Steve. After nearly attacking his sister out of bloodlust soon after, however, Darren reluctantly agrees to leave with Crepsley, who arranges it so everyone believes Darren has killed himself.

After being buried, Darren is dug up by Crepsley, only for the both of them to be ambushed by Murlough. Crepsley fights him off and the two return to Cirque du Freak where Darren meets the snake boy, Evra Von, and Rebecca, the monkey girl. Meanwhile, Steve, contemplating suicide after losing his best friend, is stopped by Tiny who offers him a chance to become a Vampaneze, telling him that Darren has already achieved his dream of being a vampire, and wasn't the loyal friend Steve believed. Steve is turned into a half-Vampaneze, and after learning that Darren has been refusing to feed, Tiny has his family kidnapped, leaving a flyer for the Cirque du Freak at Darren's former home.

Darren arrives at the theater, where Murlough and Steve are waiting for him. They fight, but Darren is weak from not feeding. Crepsley arrives to fight Murlough. Rebecca frees herself, while Tiny watches from the balcony. Rebecca offers Darren some of her blood. He eventually agrees and fights with Steve using his new powers. Crepsley stabs Murlough and with his dying words Murlough declares that the truce between the two clans is broken. Steve and Darren continue to fight, but Tiny stops them and turns Murlough into a Little Person. Darren asks Steve to stay, but Steve refuses, saying "I have my destiny and you have yours." Steve then leaves with Tiny.

Darren's family are hypnotized to have forgotten what happened to them. Left by themselves, Rebecca and Darren then share a long heartfelt kiss before being interrupted by Crepsley. Crepsley gives Darren his own coffin, and Darren accepts his new life as a member of the Cirque du Freak.


Main article: (List of characters from The Saga of Darren Shan)


Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant was shot between February 19-June 1, 2008 in New Orleans, and the villages of Folsom, Louisiana and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Some of the characters required a great deal of prosthetics and makeup led by Steve Koch, Brian Sipe, and Mark Garbarino. Prosthetics did not quite add the height needed on certain shots for the character of Mr. Tall, played by Academy Award-nominated Ken Watanabe.[4] Although Watanabe is six feet tall, a body double was cast for certain shots. Trevon Flores, a local basketball player who stands 6'10" tall and weighs 210 pounds, was used for certain shots to show the abnormal height of Mr. Tall. Additionally, Watanabe utilized dialogue coaches Kathleen S. Dunn and Francie Brown in pre-production and production to further enhance his performance as the circus barker. The filmmakers took advantage of computer-generated imagery to portray other fantasy elements.

John Marshall High School in Los Angeles was used to film some parts of the movie.Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans was also used to shoot scenes from the film.

The film began principal photography on February 8, 2008 in New Orleans and ended on June 3, 2008.[5] The film was distributed by Universal Studios. A portion of The Vampire's Assistant was filmed on a set constructed within New Orleans City Park, approximately 1,000 feet off of the side of the road, along Harrison Avenue. In one of the manga additions of the saga, the director says that the character of Gavner Purl was a hint of the sequel he wanted to make.


The score to The Vampire's Assistant was composed by Stephen Trask, marking his third feature film with director Paul Weitz. He recorded his score with an 86-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox.[6] The movie also features the songs "Something Is Not Right with Me" by Cold War Kids, "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis, and "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave. The trailer features the songs Asleep From Day by The Chemical Brothers, Bliss by Syntax, and Superhero by Immediate Music.


The film was originally set for release on January 15, 2010, but was moved ahead to October 23, 2009.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes assigns the film a rating of 38% based on 139 critics with an average rating of 4.87/10. The site's critical consensus reads "This overstuffed, scattershot vampire flick suffers from poor characterization and an unwieldy mix of scares and chuckles."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 43 out of 100, based on 25 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]

Box office[edit]

The film opened in 2,754 theaters in the United States and made over $14 million, reaching #7 in the charts. In other countries, it made more than $25 million, giving it a worldwide box office total of more than $39 million. On DVD, sales in the United States made more than $5.5 million.[10] Worldwide its chart placings included getting to #1 in Ukraine, #2 in Hungary, #2 in Russia, #2 in the United Arab Emirates, #3 in Mexico, #3 in Portugal, #4 in Egypt, #4 in Venezuela, #5 in Belgium, #5 in Peru, #5 in Singapore, #5 in the United Kingdom, #6 in Lebanon, #6 in the Philippines, #7 in Bulgaria, #7 in Japan, #8 in Chile, #8 in Colombia, #8 in the Netherlands, #9 in Austria, #9 in Romania, #11 in Germany, #11 in Malaysia, #11 in New Zealand.[11]

Home media[edit]

The film debuted on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Canada, the United Kingdom and United States at the end of February 2010.[12][13] In Canada, at the end of its first week on sale and rent, it was #1 on the Rogers DVD bestselling chart and #2 on the Blockbuster Canada bestselling chart, and #6 on the rental charts of both. In the United States it was #2 on the Rentrak bestseller chart, and #6 on the Blockbuster, Home Media and IMDb rental charts. In the United Kingdom it reached #5 on the MyMovies bestsellers chart, and #6 on the Yahoo chart.[14]

Cancelled sequels[edit]

In a Reddit AMA in March 2015, Darren Shan stated that three sequels to Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant had been abandoned by Universal prior to the film's failure, as well as expressing interest in a potential future reboot of the series.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CIRQUE DU FREAK - THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  2. ^ a b "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)". Box Office Mojo. 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  3. ^ Cirque du Freak (2008)
  4. ^ 76th Academy Awards Nominees and Winners | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Archived March 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Mike Scott. "Slew of stars set to come to town". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  6. ^ Dan Goldwasser (2009-03-23). "Stephen Trask scores Cirque du Freak". Retrieved 2009-03-23.
  7. ^ The Vampire's Assistant will be 109 minutes or 1 hour and 49 minutes.The Vampire's Assistant (2009)
  8. ^ "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  9. ^ "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". The Numbers. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  12. ^ Creepy, Uncle (2009-12-28). "Art and Details: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  13. ^ "Shanville Monthly 118". Retrieved 2012-09-24.[failed verification]
  14. ^ "DVD charts in Cirque Du Freak movie Forum". Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  15. ^

External links[edit]