A team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit are sent to the notorious Hell House to prove/disprove survival after death. ... See full summary »
A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
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>
According to director Herk Harvey, one reel of footage for the film was unfortunately ruined during processing. Harvey said it was a long series of shots that was suppose to take place just before Mary sees the "souls" dancing in the ballroom. In the shots the ghouls were supposed to slowly appear from behind the rotting dock pylons out on the salt flats and slowly walk across the prairie to the ballroom, where they would begin to dance. Sadly, the footage was overexposed during the processing and couldn't be included in the film.. See more »
When Mary falls into her trance the night she is playing organ alone in church, we see that she is playing the organ's pedals with her bare feet. But when the minister interrupts her playing and fires her, and she gets up from the organ to leave the church, she is wearing black loafers. Then when she steps outside the front steps to meet the waiting neighbor guy, she is wearing white heels. See more »
Mary and her two friends leave the road and fly off a bridge during a friendly dragster race. She is the only survivor and after her recovery she takes up a job as the church organist in a new town, but she is constantly blighted by a ghostly like visitor and periods of time when nobody seems to know she exists.
A hinted spoiler follows.
Carnival Of Souls has thankfully found a whole new audience in the new millennium, the advent of cheap triple pack DVDs and a lush Criterion release have brought it firmly to the attention of Horror/Ghost fans who were not aware that the film even existed. That said, there is no doubting that many big name directors were fully aware of it, tho, for Carnival Of Souls has influenced such luminary genre masters from Romero to Carpenter, and from Hooper to Shyamalan, be it the low budget DIY ethic, or its now genre staple twist ending, it's a film (along with it's director Herk Harvey) that is referenced as much as it is copied.
The tag often used for the film is that it's an elongated Twilight Zone episode, and sure enough I think that is a perfect fit. Its whole structure feels like a part of that wonderful and amazing Rod Serling show, and for sure this story owes a doff of the cap to An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (an Ambrose Bierce short that was reworked and used on Serling's show), but to merely suggest a retread of a previously used idea would be very unfair. Carnival Of Souls is full of eerie sequences that are dream like in quality yet goose pimply in effect. Scored at frequent intervals by a jangling organ shrill, the ghostly phantoms that plague poor Mary actually bring a shiver to the spine; while a surrealistic dance of the carnival is a stunning eerie highlight. It's a wonderfully brought together story that has one pondering uneasily from the get go, managing to jolt your senses adroitly with a very special ending.
With a small budget of only $30,000 and a cast of friends, Herk Harvey crafted one of the best independent horror sub-genre films ever made. Don't believe me? Then go ask Romero, Raimi or Hooper. 8/10
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