Carnival of Souls [Reviewed by the Drudgeon]

Carnival of Souls78 min., 1962
Directed by Herk Harvey
My rating: *
IMDBNetflix

An original concept that has now become very cliché.

* * *

The movie begins with three girls in a car who are challenged to a drag race by some guys.  They take off and after a few minutes they are on a bridge.  The guys bump into the girls’ car and they end up falling off the bridge.  After some searching and no luck Mary Hanry (Candace Hilligoss) ends up walking out of the water, being one of the three girls in the car.  We then switch to her playing the organ and talking to a man about how she has gotten a job playing in a church in Utah.  Once in Utah she meets the extremely nice landlady, Mrs. Thomas (Frances Feist) and a very slimy man named John Linden (Sidney Berger) who also has a room there.  She also meets the minister (Art Ellison) at the church where she will be playing.  Things seem to be going really good except she keeps seeing a strange man (Herk Harvey) who she thinks is following her.  She goes shopping and while in the changing room she starts to feel really strange.  She steps out and no one seems to hear or see her and she doesn’t seem able to hear anyone.  She runs around for a bit but sound starts to come back.  She goes to get a drink from a fountain when she suddenly sees the man again.  She flips out and bumps into Dr. Samuels (Stan Levitt) who says that he might be able to help.  While talking to Dr. Samuels he brings up the abandoned carnival grounds that she seems to be drawn to.  She decides to finally go and take a look.  Is there a man following Mary or is there something more going on?

The acting in this movie is just incredibly odd.  Candace Hilligoss seems to have a ton of trouble acting like a sympathetic character.  She does nothing but come off like a bitch and it’s impossible to feel any pity for her as she seems to be losing her mind.  Sidney Berger is on the other end with his character.  He seems to have absolutely no problem playing a slimy and creepy rapist or abusive boyfriend (he may not have done it, but it’s all there).  He’s good in the role but it just makes me wonder how he is in real life.  All of the other actors are flimsy at best, usually having no real emotion behind their dialogue.

There are very few effects throughout the movie and that’s not a bad thing.  I have a feeling that if they tried to do some “real” effects they would just turn out terrible.  The make-up is okay, not very terrifying but it still works on a small level.  The only real problem that I had with the effects was during the drag race.  I understand that they can’t drive at insane levels like they can now, but it’s impossible to believe that they are going very fast when it looks like they are moving at about five miles an hour.  Then when the car falls over the bridge you get some of the lamest sound effects that have ever graced the screen.

One of my biggest problems with the movie is the characters.  Most of them are completely unbelievable, do really stupid things or they are completely scummy.  Mary is a woman that just comes off as a complete bitch.  Yes she was just in a bad accident, but man she always has this really sour look on her face and anyone that’s nice to her she just blows off.  John Linden is just a reptile of a man.  When they first meet he pretty much just forces his way into Mary’s room and even after she continually tries to shut the door in his face he still keeps on going back into the room.  Then by some strange turn of emotion Mary is all of a sudden into him and wants him.  Then later on he does nothing but yell at her and then almost rapes her.  The way that the characters act is just really silly and there is no believability between them.  We also have Dr. Samuels who is trying to “help” Mary, except for the fact that he isn’t a psychiatrist and even though he realizes that there is nothing he can really do, he doesn’t even try to seek outside help.  Good job doc.  Lastly is the minister who, during one of the stupidest scenes, catching Mary playing some strange music calls it profane and tells her that she needs to leave.  Then less than a second later he tells her that he hasn’t turned his back on her and that he is there to help.  Really?  You just forced her to leave, but you are still on her side.  How does that work?  The characters are just really poorly written and they are acted really poorly.  The other problem I really have with the movie is the rundown carnival.  What is the relevance of it?  Why is she attracted to it?  None of this is answered and it felt more like the director just wanted to show off the place.  So in the end I just couldn’t get into the movie.  There was no chemistry between characters, the dialogue was really dated, and there are too many scenes where the editing is just terrible.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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One Response to Carnival of Souls [Reviewed by the Drudgeon]

  1. Lackey says:

    You neglected to mention the organ music. When I think of Carnival of Souls, the first thing I think of is that ear-piercingly shrill organ.

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