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Carnival of Souls1962

  • 4.0
Mary Henry struggles to put her life back in order after emerging the lone survivor of a gruesome car accident. She takes a job as a church organist in Utah, alienating neighbors and fellow roomers with an icy detachment; unbeknownst to them all, Mary is sinking into one mystery after another. How did Mary Henry survive that accident? Why is she drawn to the abandoned carnival on an isolated beach? And who is the pale, sinister-looking man that has followed her to her new home? The bonechilling atmosphere and enduring cult status of CARNIVAL OF SOULS belie its humble origins as the sole feature of industrial filmmaker Herk Harvey, who with a skeleton crew and an unknown (and otherworldly) Candace Hilligoss, made the film for $30,000 in three weeks. Unappreciated upon release and truncated by butcher-minded distributors, CARNIVAL OF SOULS is presented here in its unsettling entirety. -Tom Fritche

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"...works well enough as chill-up-the-spine cinema, and one might even go further and argue that Mary's anomie, her disengagement from the living, suggests something more—an existential horror cheapie." - Joe Brown, Washington Post


4 members like this review

I love this film.

There was a period in my life where I was so obsessed with this film that at my apartment I played it on repeat or 48 hours - minus the times when I was asleep, although I fell asleep to the film.

Is this the scariest horror film of all time? No. And it isn't supposed to be.

However, it deals in straight atmosphere and is subtly addictive. Maybe it's a midwest thing - I just totally get this film and I feel like it could have been shot right outside my home town. Hell, if anything like the story ever actually happened it real life I could imagine this would be the place. Something about abandoned roads and large buildings that used to hold loads of people for fun. We have, or had, both of these in spades, and when you enter one of the latter, alone and illegally, you can almost feel the energy of those who had been there before. I loved it then, and now, when I watch this film.

Recommended for those not looking to scream out loud - but for those that want to feel a sense of unease while standing in front of a window at night, right after having turned out the lights - now you can see what is really out there.

Ff228656fc3cffbf927e51ce21e1324c?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0088
top reviewer

Member Reviews (15)

Ff228656fc3cffbf927e51ce21e1324c?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0088
top reviewer

I love this film.

There was a period in my life where I was so obsessed with this film that at my apartment I played it on repeat or 48 hours - minus the times when I was asleep, although I fell asleep to the film.

Is this the scariest horror film of all time? No. And it isn't supposed to be.

However, it deals in straight atmosphere and is subtly addictive. Maybe it's a midwest thing - I just totally get this film and I feel like it could have been shot right outside my home town. Hell, if anything like the story ever actually happened it real life I could imagine this would be the place. Something about abandoned roads and large buildings that used to hold loads of people for fun. We have, or had, both of these in spades, and when you enter one of the latter, alone and illegally, you can almost feel the energy of those who had been there before. I loved it then, and now, when I watch this film.

Recommended for those not looking to scream out loud - but for those that want to feel a sense of unease while standing in front of a window at night, right after having turned out the lights - now you can see what is really out there.

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

You've dug deep and struck the heart and soul of this film.

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top reviewer

Dreamlike chiller classic, low-budget and full of eerie organ music. Save this one for after midnight. A woman walks away from a horrible car accident only to go insane afterward when a scary ghost zombie guy starts following her everywhere and smiling at her. She also sees visions of dancing corpses and goes through weird episodes in which she seems to turn invisible and inaudible to everyone around her. Hey, it happens. Shot on some of the loneliest streets of Lawrence, Kansas.

3 members like this review
81629.small
top reviewer

Harold Arnold “Herk” Harvey made only one feature film in his lifetime—this one! “The Carnival of Souls” is a weird, Drive-In Gothic gem crawling up from the depths of America’s heartland. Slowly-paced, dream-like, and eerie as hell, shot after shot shows the influence this movie had on filmmakers like George Romero, David Lynch, and Tim Burton. The early 1960’s were a great era for surreal, low-budget black and white psycho-thrillers like “Night Tide,” “The Mask,” and this amazing film!

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

A great flick for B-movie horror buffs. Carnival of Souls plays out as a creepy, Serling-esque turn of the screw. The ideal way to watch this film is to manufacture your own MST3K experience. Stock the fridge with beer, invite a few friends over, wait until sundown, spark a joint or what have you and snark your way through it together. So much fun! But don't get me wrong, if you'd rather fly solo and take it seriously there is still something here for you in this film's darkness drenched, noir derivative style -- just expect a few stretches here and there where the story significantly slows down.

1 member likes this review

The soundtrack of this film sounds somewhat like the eerie organ music from Eraserhead. Effective in parts, it was more hype than substance, but I did like the lead actress. The creepiest thing in the film to me was the cleaning woman at the church!

1 member likes this review

Classic B movie obviously a low budget film, that still presents itself in a very stylish noir creepy dream like matter, love the organ music what makes this a rare gem indeed.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Despite all the flaws of a low-budget B-movie, Herk Harvey somehow created just enough nightmare imagery to seep into the collective consciousness. This film may not scare you, but it certainly knows how to haunt.

81629.small
top reviewer

The condescending tone of your opening remarks is quite disappointing. Why can't you simply say that this is a haunting little film? Of course it has the deficiencies of a low-budget film (Herk Harvey was on his own out there in Kansas, which wasn't exactly a mecca for filmmaking in '62). It's a far form perfect film, and yet that is part of its appeal, part of the reason why "Carnival of Souls" has become a cult film favorite over the past 50 years. Why did you even bother to write about this film?

20e2d34fa40e8f79b2cadb5e6bab5e0d?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0013
top reviewer

4 ½ A stylized, really creepy and atmospheric ghost story that looks and sounds amazing, especially given it was obviously made with a Z-movie budget. The organ music, especially Mary’s possessed performance in the church, is particularly unnerving. I felt so sorry for Mary, a smart, confident loner, as her life spins out of control after a fatal car accident that leaves her as the only survivor. A low-budget horror masterpiece.

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top reviewer

The twilight zone, night of the living dead, psycho, and maybe even a little eraserhead. Really great film at work here. A lone woman searching for meaning, and reason encounters ghosts of the dead. The dead are really looking for her to join them. The eerie organ music persists throughout the film. Sort of a symbolic version of purgatory in a way. I'm sure when this was originally released it was pretty scary. Now, though, it's just a fun watch. The black and white film really adds to the mood and atmosphere.

All its missing is the intro by Rod Serling. Actually I think there was a similar Twilight Zone episode with car crash, woman victim, stalker; all but the eerie organ music. Not quite Bernard Herrmann, but that spontaneously improvised "sacrilegious" music pushed the film right over the top. A classic gem of a film.

Don't mistake this for the typical 50's/60's horror flick. The acting may not be the best, but the storyline and visuals are great. Mary's life is rolling out of control and she's seeing visions of the dead after surviving a teen drag-racing accident...or did she? Bwahahaha!! You decide. Better than your average B-movie.

A bit slow but interesting and, considering the time frame in which it was created, overall a better-than-average film. My computer wasn't buffering it properly for some reason and the delays and glitches detracted considerably from the film unfortunately, otherwise I think I'd have better enjoyed it.

some great moments! worth a watch

Super stylized and awesome. Thanks for the free watch, Fandor!

Creepy. In fact this story would be right at home in an old Creepy or Eerie comic book. Good movie, watch it.