Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
Upon release in 1962 the film was a failure in the box office, but its subsequent airings on late night television helped to gain it a strong cult following. Today it is regarded as a landmark in psychological horror. See more »
Before getting into her car, the ignition key is in the start position. After Mary climbs in to start it, it's in the off position. See more »
After viewing this legendary flick for the first time, I have to say that the quality they achieved on a shoestring is still impressive today. Every penny spent on this little film makes its way before the viewer, which is something that can't be said of most major budget films then or now. Corman used "getting the money up on the screen" as his yardstick for his own success as low budget producer and director. But while I like the Corman cheapies, like Bucket of Blood and Little Shop of Horrors, and acknowledge that they possess a relatively high level of workman-like resourcefulness, it's hard to deny that Carnival makes many of Corman's films look slapped-out and unimaginative in comparison. Corman usually steered clear of anything poetic, dabbling with it most pointedly in the dream sequences in his first Poe adaptations. In contrast, this films makers are quoted to the effect that they were inspired by Bergman and Cocteau. Now, with such heroic ambition, Carnival could have turned out a laughable mess. But the films dark waking dream atmosphere is well realized. They had some really great locations the pavilion, the wooden bridge, the organ factory and the church with the "casting out demons" stained glass. The actress playing the heroine is lucky (or skillful) casting, too; she doesn't look or act quite like the average person, which is perfect for the story. If I picked one thing to complain about, it would be the interlude with the guy from across the hall in the rooming house, about the writing of that section and especially about the actor who played him. But I won't. There's just too much good to be said about this small masterpiece of independent film making.
Ten stars. See it.
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