Carnival of Souls

  • Film
  • Horror films
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The only survivor when a car plunges into a river, Mary Henry (Hilligoss) emerges on to a sandbank like a sodden sleepwalker. Shortly afterwards, en route to Utah to take up a job as a church organist, Mary is frightened by a ghostly apparition, a white-faced man whose repeated appearances seem mysteriously connected with an abandoned carnival pavilion. Other strange episodes, during which Mary seems to become invisible and inaudible to those around her, exacerbate her feeling that she has no place in this world. With its striking black-and-white compositions, disorienting dream sequences and eerie atmosphere, this has the feel of a silent German expressionist movie. Unfortunately, so does some of the acting, which suffers from exaggerated facial expressions and bizarre gesturing. But the mesmerising power of the carnival and dance-hall sequences far outweighs the corniness of the awkward intimate scenes; and as Mary, caught in limbo between this world and the next, dances to the discordant carnival music of time, the subsequent work of George Romero and David Lynch comes constantly to mind.

Release details

Duration: 81 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Herk Harvey
Screenwriter: John Clifford
Cast: Candace Hilligoss
Frances Feist
Sidney Berger
Art Ellison
Stan Levitt
Herk Harvey

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Kiwi Pete

I saw this film at a university arts festival in Palmerston North in about 1972. No one had heard of it, but it had a packed theatre of 1,000 students hiding under their seats. It's still the scariest film I've ever seen.

Kiwi Pete

I saw this film at a university arts festival in Palmerston North in about 1972. No one had heard of it, but it had a packed theatre of 1,000 students hiding under their seats. It's still the scariest film I've ever seen.