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Carnival of Souls

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Product Details

  • Actors: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison, Stan Levitt
  • Directors: Herk Harvey
  • Writers: Herk Harvey, John Clifford
  • Producers: Herk Harvey
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1559409002
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,582 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

Herk Harvey's macabre masterpiece gained a cult following through late night television and has been bootlegged for years. Made by industrial filmmakers on a modest budget, Carnival of Souls was intended to have the "look of a Bergman" and "feel of a Cocteau," and succeeds with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score. Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) survives a drag race in a rural Kansas town, then takes a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she becomes haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her to an abandoned lakeside pavilion. Criterion is proud to present the ultimate special edition of this eerily effective B-movie classic that continues to inspire filmmakers today.


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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moodywoody TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Dec 1 2011
Format: DVD
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 By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 22 2007
Format: DVD
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.

That one brilliant movie is cult horror flick "Carnival of Souls," a nightmarish tale of a young woman who is lingering on in the world of the living -- and is pursued by the dead. Made for a piddling seventeen thousand dollars, this little gem is as eerie now as it was in the 1960s.

Three young women decide to drag race a car of young men -- and their car goes off a bridge into the river. Only Mary (Candace Hilligoss) staggers out of the water, seemingly undisturbed by the accident. The next day she travels to Utah for her new job as a church organist, but on the trip she keeps seeing a grinning, corpselike man watching her from the road.

Mary tries to distract herself with shopping, dodging her lecherous neighbor, and playing the organ. But she keeps seeing the corpse-man), having strange moments where nobody can see or ear her, and also finds herself drawn to a run-down former carnival pavilion. As the dead close in on her, Mary runs from them... but she can't escape from them forever.

A simple plot, but Herk Harvey handles it with brilliant skill. There's a goofy moment here or there -- at one point Mary turns around to shriek into the camera lens. But most of the time, Harvey keeps the atmosphere piling on, with relatively little dialogue (the most memorable lines are usually shrieked ones like "I don't want to be alone!").

In short, Harvey had the ability to inspire something a lot rarer than fear or shocks -- dread. Mary's confusion, fear and denial are almost palpable as she wanders through the town.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clob Lane on Nov. 8 2003
Format: DVD
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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