I was introduced to CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) some twenty-five years ago by a buddy of mine. I had never heard of the film before, and since it has always been my friend’s favorite film he was more than happy to lend me his VHS copy. All I can say after sitting through this tale of afterlife and the ghouls that chase us is that I totally get why he loved it so. Fast forward to 2016 where I get the chance to see it all over again. And is it as worthy? Two words to that: Like Duh.
Candace Hilligross is an organ player who, after cheating death, starts seeing dead people. They’re everywhere she goes: in the reflection of her car window, at her rooming house; at the carnival… Moreover, as if in a trance, she suddenly becomes invisible to her entourage, but only for a short period of time. Enough to become even more scared and confused. All of this is told from her point of view, with some organ music and shadowy corners to spare, and it works aplenty. Yes, the script and the performance may not always be up to par but the overall effect is quite chilling.
Director Herk Harvey works well with a meager budget and even manages to gloss everything up. Of course, the film has some flaws, like becoming monotonous once in awhile. But those are few and far between. And, to tell you the truth, all is saved by the big revelation near the end. A big cliffhanger that makes you go over the film again either in your head or at the click of a DVD button.
Until next post—Martin