A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
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>
The films opening credits fade in and out, scattered across the footage of the flowing river. See more »
When originally released in 1962, the distributors cut four minutes from the film making it only 80 minutes long. When the film was rereleased in 1989, the filmmakers restored the four minutes and 84 minutes is the official, complete running time. See more »
Herk Harvey and Candace Hilligoss are not household names to most persons and for good reason. Their body of work outside of this film is tragically low. I say tragically because Harvey as the film's producer/director and Hilligoss as the female lead were the main reason Carnival of Souls is remembered today as it is. Carnival of Souls is a great little gem and, I would say, a masterpiece of it's genre. Shot on a very low budget in 1962, much of it was filmed in Lawrence, Kansas, where the University of Kansas is located and where one of it's leading players (Speech instructor Sidney Berger as Ms. Hilligoss' `love interest') was on the teaching staff. Harvey also appeared as the mysterious apparition throughout the story. The story concerns a young woman, Hilligoss as Mary Henry, who has evidently survived an automobile plunging off of a bridge and into deep water. After being rescued, Mary begins to see the apparition, impressively played by Harvey in a low key, understated manner, and notices that there are times when she cannot be seen or heard by those around her. Harvey is truly outstanding, made up to look as a zombie with hollow, piercing eyes. Hilligoss as Mary is equally impressive as the strong-willed yet strangely vulnerable Mary. Hilligoss was an attractive, if not beautiful woman, and perfect for the role as Mary. Carnival of Souls is one of those films that worked, and worked well, almost in spite of itself. On the surface it would not appear that it had much going for it. Mary's adventures take her to a boarding house where she receives the mostly unwanted attentions of her lecherous neighbor, John, capably played by Berger. She accepts a job as a church organist, giving Harvey the perfect in to include some very eerie music within the story, and is mysteriously drawn to an old amusement park, where she experiences the dances of the dead, the film's most impressive scenes. Eventually she is drawn outside the abandoned ballroom to the beach and claimed as one of their own by the party of zombies, confirming what we have suspected all along. Mood, atmosphere and creative camera work set this film apart, a film which was ahead of its time as was 1968's Night of the Living Dead. Carnival of Souls is greater than the sum of its parts, as all things excellent must always be. It is a pity we did not see more of Herk Harvey or Candace Hilligoss. Horror buffs will always wonder, what if? .. Still, I believe it preferable to do a single masterpiece rather than a large body of the forgettable. Perhaps they were wise and understood that this was the one great work allotted them. I hope this is the case but we will never know.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this