Spooktober 22, Day 24: Carnival of Souls

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

The alienating feeling begins swiftly and remains wrapped around Herk Harvey’s 1962 film Carnival of Soul until its final scene. This isn’t a movie that thrives on visual scares, but instead, the effects of trauma, psychological peril, and the sense that you’re misplaced.

That’s not to say the film isn’t creepy, it’s just delivered in a way where the fear is read in the eyes of our lead, and in the well of loneliness, you see in her tears.

source: Herts-Lion International Corp.

Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) is the only survivor of a horrible car accident. She tries to put it behind her and start anew, getting a job as a church organist, and settling into a boarding house in Salt Lake City. Soon though, she is haunted by visions of a man, and other disruptions that begin to unravel her grip on reality. She’s also fascinated with the site of an old carnival pavilion as if something is pulling her towards it.

Carnival of Souls is definitely eerier than it is scary, made on a small budget, without any of the more pushy aesthetics or violence that so often accompanies the genre. Here it works, though it wouldn’t be surprising to find that some viewers think it tedious. For me, the 80 minutes went by in a flurry, and I can see how this paved the way for many films to follow (one, in particular, I won’t mention because it spoils the twist). I love tracing the inspirations in horror throughout the beginning of the film. Each time I discover a new one it’s like coloring in the picture a bit more.

Carnival of Souls isn’t a complete stunner for me (though damn close) but it’s a resonating, effective piece of work that nudges those feelings of lonesomeness we often face with a moody, nightmare-tinged quality.

Carnival of Souls is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s