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Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is the film adaptation of the first three books of the book series The Saga of Darren Shan by author Darren Shan. The film began principal photography on February 8, 2008 in New Orleansmarker and ended on June 3, 2008. 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 1000 feet off of the side of the road, along Harrison Avenue. The film was originally set for release on January 15, 2010, but was moved forward to October 23, 2009.


The Vampire's Assistant, based on the popular series of books by Darren Shan called The Saga of Darren Shan, is a fantasy-adventure about a teenager who unknowingly breaks a 100-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires, a peaceful group called the Vampire Clan who don't kill their victims, and a group of stereotypical bloodsucking killers called the Vampaneze. Pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.

Typical 16-year-old Darren (Chris Massoglia) hung out with his best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson), got decent grades, and usually stayed out of trouble. But when he and Steve stumble upon a traveling freak show, Steve recognizes one of the performers as a vampire. After the police shut down the show, Darren and Steve get separated. Steve goes to the vampire Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) and tries to convince him to make Steve into a vampire. Darren went to steal Crepsley's poisonous spider Madam Octa, and overhears the conversation between Crepsley and Steve. Crepsley says Steve has bad blood and refuses to turn him into a vampire. Steve swears to kill Crepsley and leaves.

When Crepsley realizes that Madam Octa has been stolen, Darren runs away as fast as he can until he runs into a limo. He is told to get inside and there he meets Desmond Tiny (Michael Cerveris) and Murlough (Ray Stevenson). They drop him off at his house where he sneaks back into his room.

The next day at school, Darren has Madam Octa in his locker and Steve sees him talking to her. Darren reveals he overheard the conversation between Steve and Crepsley. As Steve tries to take a look at Madam Octa, she escapes and bites him. Darren goes to Crepsley to ask for the antidote. Crepsley agrees to under the condition that Darren become his assistant as a half vampire. Darren agrees reluctantly and Crepsley bloods him. They go to the hospital where Crepsley administers the antidote. Darren then sounds the alarm forcing Crepsley to leave without him. However the vampire part of Darren soon begin too be to much for him to handle. After Darren nearly feeds on his sister he agrees to leave with Crepsley. He fakes his own death and a funeral is held for him. During the wake Steve notices the scars on his fingertips from when Crepsley converted him into one of his own kind.

Crepsley then digs up Darren's grave when they are attacked by Murlough. Murlough wants to capture Darren and bring him to Tiny. Crepsley eventually manages to lose Murlough and return to the Cirque. Darren meets and becomes friends with Evra Von (Patrick Fugit) the snake boy and Rebecca (Jessica Carlson), a girl with a monkey tail, and the three quickly become friends from the work they do together. As Steve is contemplating suicide, Mr. Tiny stops him and offers him a chance to become a Vampaneze like Murlough. Tiny has several Vampaneze go to the Cirque to kidnap Darren. As Darren hasn't fed yet he doesn't have any powers and is forced to run while the rest of the Cirque tries to stop them. In the end they kidnap Rebecca and have Evra tell Darren to go home.

Steve walks into the Shan house to ask them to adopt him which they refuse. He then has Murlough capture them. Darren arrives too late to save his family and sees the flier for Cirque Du Freak. Crepsley learns where Darren went and goes after him. Darren arrives at the theater he and Steve saw Cirque Du Freak were Murlough and Steve are waiting for him. Steve offers Darren a chance to join them. If he kills Rebecca, Steve will let his family go. Darren refuses and tries to fight them but is easily overpowered from not drinking any blood. Crepsley arrives and fights Murlough. Rebecca uses her tail to free herself while Mr. Tiny watches from the balcony. Steve helps Murlough against Crepsley while Rebecca offers Darren some of her blood. He reluctantly agrees and help Crepsley against Steve and Murlough. Crepsley kills Murlough and then Steve and Darren fight. Tiny stops them before turning Murlough into a Little Person. Tiny, Steve and Murlough then leave.





Cirque du Freak members

  • Blake Nelson Boyd as Mr. Afraid of the Ground Man.
  • Sam Medina and Gino Galento as Madame Truska's men
  • Natasha Angelety as Cirque Freak
  • Michael Dean Baker as Mr. Piercing
  • Nokomis Callender as Cirque Freak
  • Rose Lamarche as Cirque Freak
  • Stefanie Oxmann McGaha as Cirque Freak
  • J. J. Standing III as Cirque "Heavy"

Unknown species


Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant was shot between February 19, 2008 and June 1, 2008 in New Orleansmarker, and the villages of Folsom, Louisianamarker and Baton Rougemarker, Louisianamarker. 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. 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 Schoolmarker in Los Angelesmarker was used to film a few parts of the movie. They also used Lusher Charter School in New Orleans to shoot a couple of scenes from the film.

The film received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for sequences of intense supernatural violence and action, disturbing images, thematic elements, and some language.


The film has received mixed reviews. It currently holds a 37% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a rating of 4.9 out of 10. According to Metacritic, the film holds a score of 43 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews", based on 25 reviews. On IMDB the response from viewers has been much more positive -- it currently has a score of 6.4 out of 10 based on more than 2000 responses. On Darren Shan's messageboard, he listed 123 reviews (every review that he could find onlin up to October 23rd) which broke down into 55 positive reviews, 45 negative, and 23 neutral.

The film opened in 2,754 theaters in the USA and made $13.5 million dollars in its first three weeks. It has performed stronger in other countries, making €10.5 million dollars in its first three weeks in a handful of territories, getting to #1 in Ukraine, #2 in Russia, #3 in Portugal and #5 in the UK. The movie is scheduled to open in more than fifty other countries between now and June 2010, so there is still a good chance that it will perform well globally and generate a sequel, despite its relatively subdued opening in the USA.


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. The movie also features "Something Is Not Right with Me" by Cold War Kids and 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.


  1. Slew of stars set to come to town - Mike Scott - Times-Picayune Movies -
  2. The Vampire's Assistant will be 109 minutes or 1 hour and 49 minutes. The Vampire's Assistant (2009)
  3. Cirque du Freak (2008)
  4. IGN: The Green Goblin Freaks Out
  5. Universal Pictures
  6. IGN: Exclusive: Frank Castle Speaks
  7. Shanville Monthly 91
  8. 76th Academy Awards Nominees and Winners | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  9. The Daily News Record: College Sports

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