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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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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 A Horror Film of Pure Genius Dec 1 2011
By Moodywoody TOP 500 REVIEWER
Carnival of Souls is a perfect example of how a film can be brilliant and entertaining without a big budget. Originally made for just $33,000 in 1962, you would never guess viewing this film that it was a low budget independent film. The creative energy of those that made this film is rather startling. The director, the screenwriter, musical score writer, and the actors all did a fantastic job in creating a film akin to catching lightning in a bottle. There is something uniquely special about this film that is difficult to describe.

However, I would suggest that there are four primary reasons:

1. The musical score of this film is absolutely fabulous, and adds a huge factor to the eeriness of the film. Written by Gene Moore, the sound score is wonderful. A professional presentation it there ever was one, it could hold up with any big budget film sound score. The use of the organ music conveying the different moods of the film is exceptional.

2. The screenplay by John Clifford is simply above average for a horror film. Centred around the main character of Mary, the film brings in the viewer to experience with Mary the foreboding terror that awaits her.

3. The actress who plays Mary, Candace Hilligoss, is a professionally trained actress with talent and ability. The film needed an actress with ability to carry this film, otherwise it would have failed. A beautiful woman, Hilligoss does a great job of conveying the disorientation and confusion of her character. It is one of those curiosities in film history that she never did any other movies of note after this film.

4. Finally, the director and visionary of this remarkable film, Herk Harvey.
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully haunting ... Sept. 21 2003
By A Customer
I was hesitant to purchase this film, since I have seen so many flawed, tainted versions of it and been enthralled by the content and yet disappointed by the quality of the presentation. In the end, I found myself trusting the reputation of the Criterion Collection and purchased "Carnival Of Souls", finding it to be one of the finest DVDs I have ever purchased. The price of this DVD is worthy of the film, looking spectacular, crisp, clear, and utterly haunting. I wonder now how Herk Harvey (Director) didn't end up changing the film industry by his methods of film-making. This Criterion Collection version of "Carnival Of Souls" is well worth the price. I can't wait to view it once more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Creepy Stuff July 20 2003
By Shake
Candace Hilligoss is beautiful but creepy, the music is creepy, the photography is creepy, the story is creepy and the directing is creepy. One of the all time great horror classics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Crud! July 8 2003
This is one you must watch alone in the dark! It's really scary then. Yes you could watch it with a bunch of buds and make fun of it, but when everyone is gone and nobody is around to hold onto, this movie will move in with it's intense atmosphere and shocking conclusion. Definately a must buy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars creates an uneasy feeling July 6 2003
First saw this movie on tv late one night about 25 years ago. Made an indelible and lasting impression on me. The acting and direction etc. were pretty average but somehow it didn't seem to matter. It was the way the story unfolded that left the mark. Probably best seen without knowing the plot but I will still be getting this one because, in its own way, it is memorable. Along with Julie Harris in the "The Haunting" and Deborah Kerr in "The Innocents" this film has always held a special place in movies that have really physically unsettled me while I was watching them. Definitely dark room, very late, by yourself, viewing. :)
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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 8 months ago by bernie
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
5.0 out of 5 stars a great cult classic!
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film
This film is one of the best known of classic horror films of th early 1960's. Read more
Published on May 14 2004 by Ted
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