Thursday, October 22, 2009

#10 - Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls (1962)
Directed by: Herk Harvey. Written by: John Clifford.

Plot: After a car accident of which she is the only survivor, a young woman (Candace Hilligoss) starts having strange visions of a ghostly carnival. She hears circus music everywhere she goes, she keeps running into this scary zombie-looking guy (Herk Harvey) and she seems to be totally losing her shit.

Review: This is another movie which scared the living piss out of me when I was a kid. There’s this one scene where she’s driving down the highway at night and this creepy organ music comes on the radio and she keeps changing the channel but it’s always the same music and then she looks over and this fucking scary face is in the window… I think I cried. I still hate driving places at night. And listening to the radio. And windows. This movie totally fucked me up.

It’s also probably one of the creepiest horror movies ever made. Candace Hilligoss is very convincing - interestingly, she only went on to make one other movie (Curse of the Living Corpse, which also starred Roy Schneider (!) and from the plot description on IMDb sounds sort of like a long episode of Tales from the Crypt), and the spooky guy is really spooky.

I gather that this movie was made on a fairly low budget, but it’s one of those movies that manages to make it look like a lot more than it actually was (again, weirdly, Herk Harvey didn’t really go on to do anything else). I also gather than this film is regarded as something of a ‘forgotten classic’ which makes me feel lucky that my library happened to have it and I happened to see it at a fairly young age, traumatizing the shit out of me.

Another interesting note, the zombies in Night of the Living Dead were lifted pretty much wholesale from the waterlogged ghouls in this movie, in terms of appearance.

I dunno, I’m really surprised this movie doesn’t get more attention than it does and I’m always shocked when people haven’t heard of it. Horror fans, that is, normal people don’t shock me anymore. Not that I’m that well versed in horror, but I’d say as far as American flicks go I’m not doing too bad.

But yeah, this is a great psychological mindfuck creeper flick and always good to watch. Makes the hair on the back of the neck prickle. Good stuff.

Favourite Part:
I think the whole movie is actually pretty solid but for some reason I find Candace Hilligoss’ performance particularly striking. She’s not a great actor by any means but she’s got a certain something I can really identify with for whatever reason. I like her.

Other versions:
Supposedly Wes Craven did a 're-imagining' in the nineties which I’ve never heard of and isn’t supposed to be especially good. Thirty year rule says it’ll be remade again within fifteen years.

Sequels: None.

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