Carnival of Souls (1962)

Approved  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  2 November 1962 (Finland)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 12,440 users  
Reviews: 274 user | 162 critic

After a traumatic accident, a woman becomes drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival.



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Title: Carnival of Souls (1962)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Candace Hilligoss ...
Frances Feist ...
Sidney Berger ...
Art Ellison ...
Stan Levitt ...
Dr. Samuels
Tom McGinnis ...
Organ Factory Boss
Forbes Caldwell ...
Carpenter in Organ Factory
Dan Palmquist ...
Gas Station Attendant
Bill de Jarnette ...
Mechanic (as Bill De Jarnette)
Steve Boozer ...
Chip, Man at Juke Box
Pamela Ballard ...
Dress Sales Lady
Larry Sneegas ...
Drag Racer
Cari Conboy ...
Lake Zombie
Karen Pyles ...
Dress Store Customer
T.C. Adams ...
Dancing Zombie


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


She Escaped Death. Now It Wants Her Back! See more »


Horror | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 November 1962 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Corridors of Evil  »

Box Office


$30,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original) | (director's cut)

Sound Mix:


(green tinted)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The supporting cast of the film was made up of local actors from the Lawrence, Kansas area, where much of the film was shot. See more »


In the department store where Mary discovers she is "invisible" she goes down an aisle with both hands out to her sides and clearly has no purse. The scene cuts to her leaving the store where she now has her purse. See more »


Mrs. Thomas: You just let your imagination run away with you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The films opening credits fade in and out, scattered across the footage of the flowing river. See more »


Featured in Horrible Horror (1986) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

As close to pure cinema as America ever came.
28 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The is finest film ever made in America, barr none. That it was directed by a professional documentarian on what appears to be a budget of a hundred bucks, with a cast of total unknowns, only makes it all the more remarkable. First, let's get the 'low-budget' issue out of the way, because during the later '80s this film developed a following among those who especially admire cheap films. Applying that to this film is a big mistake. This film isn't about money, it's about cinema - what you can and cannot do with a camera and an editing board, using whatever it is one has to work with.

As with all pure cinema - from Citizen Kane to the Wild Bunch, from the Battleship Potemkin to the Seven Samurai - this film works on many levels at the same time. It is, first, an effective ghost story, in fact probably the only instance of a film that has a real ghost story to tell (most ghost-story films are really horror movies or romances). Then it is also an uncompromising psychological analysis of female frigidity. It is also surrealistic psycho-drama, but it is also a genuine slice of Americana - the film certainly has resonance with the films of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, but it is determined to present its American characters in their American locations as American, and not as europhilic wannabes. Consequently it is also an historical document of what America was like in the early '60s - really a kind of weird place by today's standards.

One of the qualities that makes a film 'pure cinema' is that the viewer should, on reflection, feel utterly convinced that there is not a camera shot out of place, not a wasted moment, not an image or sound we don't need to have the complete film before us. But of course while watching the film, we should be so captivated by it, we set our critical mind to rest. Despite the darkness of its themes and images, this film drags us along like some obsessive-compulsion we didn't even know we had.

Finally, when watching a truly great film, when the final credit rolls, we should feel as if we have actually experienced the film, not simply watched it. This quality does diminish after repeated viewing - when you find yourself reciting the dialog by heart, you know that you've passed onto the level of remembering the film's experience, rather than living it. But certainly, after the initial viewing we should feel as though we have been changed by the film, and that we now look at the world through different eyes.

This film is really about the fundamental puritanism that remains the core of the American world-view. It treats that world-view with both outrage, sympathy, and even, if one pays close attention, a touch of humor. The souls in this movie are lost souls - but its their carnival, after all; and we're welcomed to it any time we care to visit. However, be forewarned: once inside, we may have to stay.

38 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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