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Carnival of Souls

Candace Hilligoss , Frances Feist , Herk Harvey    Unrated   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Carnival of Souls + Night of the Living Dead (Full Screen) [Import]
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Product Details

Product Description


An ultra-cheap B-horror movie, filmed in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1962, with a really creepy Twilight Zone-style premise and some great shoestring atmosphere. Wandering into a small town after an auto accident, to begin her new job as a church organist, young Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) begins to pick up strange vibes: none of the normal people in town seem to be able to see her, and she keeps being accosted by freakish pasty-faced types who seem to be dead on their feet. The nightmarish finale benefits from its one-of-a-kind "found" setting, an empty amusement park rising like a ghostly castle from the prairie landscape. This is much less aggressive and violent film than George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead, but for sheer skin- crawling spookiness, it's in the same class. --David Chute --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Special Features

Herk Harvey's spooky little cult wonder, Carnival of Souls (1962), was, according to the director, initially inspired by the spooky sight of the abandoned Salt Palace. The lonely, crumbling edifice standing on the beach of the Great Salt Lake became the setting for the film's memorably creepy climax. "We hoped for the look of a Bergman film and the feel of Cocteau," remarks Harvey on the commentary track of Criterion's deluxe DVD, but this low-budget labor of love more resembles the lyricism of Curtis Harrington's eerie fantasy, Night Tide. In addition to the commentary track--edited together from interviews with Harvey and writer John Clifford and which leaves a few long gaps--Criterion's gorgeous double-disc set is packed with supplements. Two respectful 1989 documentaries produced by a Kansas TV station celebrate the film's rerelease with interviews, a cast and crew reunion, and a "then and now" tour of locations. Clips and short films from Harvey's industrial film company, Centron, are curious artifacts of a bygone era. The generous collection of outtakes (accompanied by the film's organ score) gets a bit tedious, but reveals some interesting experiments with special effects and the then-novel zoom lens. Criterion offers two different cuts of the film--the 85-minute director's cut and the shorter theatrical version trimmed of 7 minutes by the producers. Both prints are clean, clear, and luminescent. Carnival of Souls probably never looked this good in the theaters. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carnival of Souls: Criterion Collection Nov. 8 2003
I am reviewing this item not for the feature (as I already reviewed this excellent film a while back), I am reviewing the Criterion Special Edition DVD, which is a two-disc set packed and
loaded with tones of special features. The first disc contains the original theatrical version which director Herk Harvey edited some sequences and scenes out. The first disc also contains a really neat look back on the film in a 1989 documentary "The Movie That Wouldn't Die". There is also a very neat extra of 45 minutes of rare outtakes seen for the first time, and accompanied by the eerie organ music of Gene Moore. Some rare songs not heard in the original movie are here for your scary enjoyment. There is also a theatrical trailer feature.
A very interesting look back on the locations for Carnival of Souls is included, and it talks about the history of the Saltair Resort, which has a very magnificent history and was used for the carnival location, this is an illustrated history.
On the second disc, there is a director's cut of the film, including some scenes not even shown on the VHS "director's cut" editions. One scene that is most notably absent from the original
is the scene where the priest talks to the church carpenter about how strange Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) is. This disc also contains a selected audio commentary by screenwriter John Clifford and the late Herk Harvey. Some excerpts of films made by the Centron Corporation. As well as an essay on the history of Centron. Some printed interviews with film illustrations are featured here as well.
This DVD-set is the best DVD-set I've ever seen. The image quality of the black and white transfer is unbelievably clear, and is the best image transfer I've ever seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
YOUR REVIEWERS NEED TO DO THEIR HOMEWORK. I originally saw this film in SLC about 3 years after it was made. The river may have been in Lawrence, Kansas, but the other scenes are in SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH and at the SALTAIR RESORT on the Great Salt Lake. The scenes at the 'carnival pavillion' are of the SALTAIR ballroom and amusement park. My parents met at a dance there in 1934 when the lake was still high but a small train ride was needed to reach the shore for bathing. Originally you just walked down the stairs to the water. Later the pavillion, still on the original pilings (shown in the next to last scene) was just used as an amusement park. I rode their huge roller coaster in 1956. The lake continued to receed, the roller coaster was blown down twice by high winds and eventually the place was closed. At the time this film was made, my high school friends and I used to sneak in and explore the condemned site. The 'prarie' referred to by one reviewer is in fact the Salt Flats and old beach area. I saw this film when one of several efforts to raise money for restoring SALTAIR was in progress. Arsonists burned the place down eventually. It was a stunninly beautiful place with one of the most beautiful ballrooms of the Victorian Era. We felt it as a huge loss of a city landmark.
Other scenes are in downtown SLC: the church where the heroine plays is an Episcopal church where my best friend got married, the water fountain scene is on the grounds of the City and County Building, NOTE the VERY WIDE STREETS! Salt Lake is known for them. Many of the buildings shown still stand like ZCMI dept.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy! Sept. 27 2002
What is it about this film, that makes me want to watch it again and again? It can't be the special effects; they are laughable. It can't be the sound; the dubbing is the worst I've ever seen. It can't be stellar performances by all involved; some of the acting and dialogue are horribly corny.
I think what makes this movie special, what has earned it a cult following, is that it traps the viewer within its own world, a claustrophobic, washed-out black and white world, a world on the edge of twilight heading inexorably toward an eternal darkness, a world where the heroine is slowly led to her doom, in spite of her desperate attempts to escape. Lots of horror movies try to create this feeling of "no exit" but most try to do it with silly fright gimmicks and fail miserably. This one uses a slowly constricting, strangely palid atmosphere centered on one character's increasingly odd experiences, eerie organ music, excellent cinematography, and an expressionistic landscape (a spider web shuddering on tree branches; a dark, abandoned carnival pavilion seen off on the horizon, a car pulled from a muddy river) to create a surrealistic sense of horror. Candace Hilligoss, who only made this and one other horror film, turns in a stunning performance reminiscent of Kim Novak in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo: distant, vulnerable, refined, yet repressed. It's exactly what was needed here, and it makes her one of the most memorable horror actresses ever, in my book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DANCE OF THE DEAD Dec 4 2002
By A Customer
Ordered this Criterion DVD strictly by the reviews here on Amazon. Would like to say I was not disappointed. I did have the end figured out before the closing frame, as others have indicated, but was still genuinely frightened for what was happening to Mary. It has been said that Candace Hilligoss's performance caused you not to care about the character, however I did not feel that way. It was quite an unsettling experience. As usual, Criterion done an outstanding job on the picture and sound quality, and the box art was really nice. If I were to say anything negative, it would be to ask "Does one really need two versions of the same movie, especially when we're talking a mere 5 minutes?" Highly recommended fright film to anyone who doesn't need buckets of blood, or gallons of gore.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Silence is golden, but my eyes still see
The film starts with a racy scene. Two cars racing over the bridge and one vehicle falls in to a swift river. Three hours later, a dirty Mary surfaces. Read more
Published 9 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Horror Film of Pure Genius
Carnival of Souls is a perfect example of how a film can be brilliant and entertaining without a big budget. Read more
Published on Dec 1 2011 by Moodywoody
3.0 out of 5 stars Silence is golden, but my eyes still see
The film starts with a racy scene. Two cars racing over the bridge and one vehicle falls in to a swift river. Three hours later, a dirty Mary surfaces. Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2010 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars In and around itself, it was creepy...
Okay, well, if you've read the title you basically know what I'm going to start out with.

I think I've watched this movie the equivalent of 40 times, and each time I see... Read more
Published on July 22 2008 by G. Motychko
5.0 out of 5 stars "Carnival of Souls (1962) ... Herk Harvey ... Legend Films (2005)"
Legend Films presents "CARNIVAL OF SOULS" (Released: 2 November 1962) (78 mins) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- now in COLOR and Glorious Black and White ---... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2007 by J. Lovins
4.0 out of 5 stars Not since The Shining has a film created such a primal sense of fear &...
When I saw a copy of Carnival of Souls together with Night of the Living Dead for a measly buck, I figured I would go ahead and take advantage. Read more
Published on March 10 2007 by Rob Larmer
5.0 out of 5 stars They go around...
Some brilliant directors only make a few movies. Herk Harvey made over four hundred -- but sadly, he only brought his astounding talents into one non-educational movie. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2007 by E. A Solinas
1.0 out of 5 stars crap
It sounds cheap. It looks cheap. There was nothing scary or entertaining about it. The plot doesn't make sense. Read more
Published on July 19 2004 by Phillip Swift
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and Creepy cult classic comes to DVD!!!
Carnival of Souls was made on a shoe-string budget by industrial filmmaker Herk Harvey and stars the enigmatic and beautiful Candace Hilligoss as the lead character who manages to... Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Christian Lehrer
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not taking vows. I just play the organ."
Carnival of Souls is the horror movie Albert Camus might have made. It's a lot like George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead - - black and white, low-budget, a simple... Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by Found Highways
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