“What’s the matter kid, don’t you like clowns? Don’t we make you laugh? Aren’t we fuckin’ funny?” – Captain Spaulding
For many horror fans the name Sid Haig is synonymous with his maniac clown character, Captain Spaulding, from Rob Zombies horror duet of House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects. And as much as that character, and Sid Haig’s performance therein, is one of my all-time favorites, there’s another clown persona Sid took on that exemplifies his acting talents.
The character of Seymour Smiles may not be as vivid as Captain Spaulding, but it is through this character that I’ve come to realize that Sid is a far better actor than just being used as a shocking face. Seymour Smiles is brought to life with Sid’s unique terror-charm, as I call it. There’s something so fierce, and yet so lovable about him, and that is exactly how the character of Seymouris introduced.
The film starts with Seymour, an apparent railway hobo, coming back to his home town of Peru, Indiana, the “Circus Capital of the World”. Seymour is the last in a line of famous clowns, but he is at a point in his life where he has abandoned that life for one of cheap booze, bad beef jerky, and cigarettes. To find money he ends up getting a job teaching a batch of amateur clowns how to be funny.
It’s difficult to describe the film beyond that, as it’s very much a character-driven story about Seymour’s quirky behavior and his struggling with personal demons. Often the film is little more than short scenes of Seymourdrunkenly moping around from place to place. But as the film progresses it takes on a sort of nuanced tenderness as Seymour begins to change while continuing to struggle with his past.
I won’t give it away, but Sid’s performance in the final scene of the film is surprisingly moving, almost fragile in its simplicity, but strikingly powerful. Peculiarly sweet and chock-full of quirk, Little Big Top is a great little film that will warm your heart, and make you love Sid Haig even more… because if you don’t already, there’s something wrong with you.
image source: [creativeplanetnetwork]