Original Jim Rose Circus Show
Koch Entertainment // Unrated // $19.98 // July 22, 2003
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted September 8, 2003
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Back in the early 90's, a guy by the name of Jim Rose decided that he was going to revive the traveling sideshow / freak-show of carnival days gone by. Providing inspiration the Jackasses, Steve O's Fear Factors, and CKY's that would follow, the Jim Rose Circus has now, ten years later, become a staple attraction on the American underground circuit.

Filmed years ago, around 1993, the circus presented hear bears little resemblance to the touring version that was recently featured in a television on the Travel Channel. Compared to the recent incarnation, this group is more disturbing and cutting edge, not to mention larger.

Jim Rose himself performs a myriad of acts involving years of training and condition. They range from the bed of nails to placing his face in broken glass and having audience members step on his head. He was the human dartboard, long before Jackass was on MTV.

One of the most disturbing members of the troupe at the time was Matt "the tube" Crowley. Blessed with amazing gifts in the nasal cavity area, he's able to inhale objects through the nose and out his mouth. That's the least of his talents. His beer drinking ability is the envy of frat boys nationwide as he promptly inserts a 7-foot hose through his nose and into his stomach. Assisted by Rose, he mixes a concoction of beer, ketchup, and antacid, which is then injected directly into his stomach. It doesn't end there, as the audience is soon invited to participate in the leftovers.

Mr. Lifto is a veteran of Rose's circus and has been with most incarnations since its inception. His amazing talent comes from his many bodily piercings (yes, he is pierced there as well) and the things he can lift with them. He can lift heavy objects (bricks and irons) that have been hung from chains by inserting their hooks into his nipples, tongue and other porous body parts. Nowhere as disgusting as "the tube," he's one of the most popular ones on the tour.

You may recognize the Enigma from the "Humbug" episode of the X-Files television show where he played The Conundrum, a freak in Dr. Blockhead's (Jim Rose) circus show. He basically did on that episode what he does on the tour. His body looks like a human puzzle and he is billed as an insectivore. Audience members are invited on stage to feed him crickets, earthworms and other assorted insects. After Fear Factor, he's pretty tame.

Next up is the Torture King, who performs many mind-over-matter feats involving pins and other sharp objects. Much like certain Hindu religions, he impales himself all over his boy with needles. You'll see him poke them through his mouth, brow, and chest and in a disturbing display, through his arm. It's rather disturbing, but it's a one trick pony and becomes old rather quick.

Lastly, Jim's wife, Bebe the Circus Queen, has a few stunts of her own in later shows, but is relegated to a helper in most of these acts.

If you've never seen the Jim Rose Circus on tour or at a concert and you love the seedy, carnival, sideshow type of thing, you owe it to yourself to check this disc out. A modern day P.T. Barnum, Rose continually narrates throughout the show providing one wisecrack after another as his group of misfits and freaks strut their stuff. It would have been nice to see more than one incarnation of the circus on this DVD, but at least it's one of the most interesting ones.

Video: Like any good carnival, the atmosphere is on the seedy side and the same can be said for most of the video. Filmed in dark conditions or inside the venue, most of the video has noticeable grain and low saturation. There's not a lot that could be done to correct this, other than lots of lighting, which would ruin the mood of the show.

Audio: A Dolby 2.0 Stereo track is all that's available on this disc and that's all that is needed. With nothing more than dialog in the mix, it's crisp and easy enough to hear what Rose is saying.

Extras: The original 30-minute production of the video is included from the former VHS release and pales in comparison to the full 90-minutes you get on the DVD. Also included are various bloopers from stunts gone wrong in rehearsal, as well as a commercial that promotes the tour.

Overall: The DVD is a perfect companion to those who have seen the show or have always been interested. In this day and age of Fear Factor and Jackass clones, it's easy to see where it all started when you're watching this DVD. It's not a disc for everyone, but for those interested, it's a fun (somewhat cringe inducing) 90-minutes.

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