In England, 1947; Dr. Rossiter (Anton Diffring) botches an operation and scars his patient's face for life, so he and his assistants (Kenneth Griffith & Jane Hylton) evade the police and escape to France under disguise as Dr. Schuler. Once there, he sees a girl scarred in the recent war and after befriending her father Vanet (Donald Pleasence), a travelling circus owner, he offers to use his plastic surgery skills to restore her face for free. Afterwards he manipulates his way into the family and running of the circus troupe, eventually taking it over when the owner dies in a drunken incident. Before long the circus is used as a front for his increasingly deranged and experimental surgical exploits, where he befriends disfigured women and transforms them for his internationally successful "Temple of Beauty". However, when they threaten to leave, they meet with gruesome accidents which begin to raise the suspicions of both reporters and Scotland Yard, who are soon hot on his trail.