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John Llewellyn Moxey
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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>
After a traumatic accident, a woman (Candace Hilligoss) becomes drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival.
This film is a horror movie more in the psychological sense. It relies on surreal camera-work, eerie organ music, and minimal actual frights (though some zombie-like beings do show up). This film reminded me of Hitchcock's "Vertigo" in its pacing and mood, though the plots have absolutely nothing to do with each other (this film was once an Ambrose Bierce short story).
The black and white was not a hindrance and at times added something more. The sound could have been better. A colorized, touched-up version exists, but I did not see that one (I would get it for the Mike Nelson commentary track, but otherwise avoid it).
I appreciate how it was independent film-making at its finest. Department store scenes shot on the fly, a cast of college kids... as far as classics go, this one has the most independent pedigree -- no one associated with this film had a history or went on to become anyone big, but all were / are known for this film.
If you do not like a slow film and do not like black and white films, stay away. But if this is your cup of tea and you want to see a piece of horror history (this film inspired David Lynch, Tim Burton and other directors) you must see this film at some point. Super-recommended for the true horror fan.
If you are looking to own it, you must get the Criterion Collection version. Various versions exist (I presume because it is in the public domain), but Criterion has the best looking one, and they have loaded their two discs with special features (featurettes, audio commentary and more).
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