Carnival of Souls [Import]
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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. --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
tres bon service mais drôle de film : une femme devient voyante après être passée près de la mort.Published 1 month ago by françois morrissette
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 morePublished on Sept. 20 2010 by Bernie
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
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 morePublished on Sept. 16 2007 by J. Lovins
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 morePublished on March 10 2007 by Rob Larmer
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 morePublished on Feb. 22 2007 by E. A Solinas
It sounds cheap. It looks cheap. There was nothing scary or entertaining about it. The plot doesn't make sense. Read morePublished on July 19 2004 by Phillip Swift
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 morePublished on July 16 2004 by Christian Lehrer
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