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Carnival of Souls (Cinema Insomnia Slime Line)


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Editorial Reviews

A story so unusual it will burn itself into your mind. Mainly because this feature length film would have mad a great 22-minute Twilight Zone episode and feels like you've seen it twice when you've seen it once.

Never the less, it is one of the best inexpensive horror films this side of Night of the Living Dead and is a favorite of thrifty TV programmers. An all out ratings war errupts between Cinema Insomnia host Mr. Lobo, Fly By Night Theater host Francois Fly and Horror House hostess Lady Skankenstein and they all decide to compete with each other by showing th same film on the same night, Carnival of Souls. But no matter who wins, the viewers loose!

Candace Hilligoss stars as a drag racing church organist who goes soul searching and finds herself drawn to the haunted Saltair Pavilion, where ghostly ghouls are waiting to punch her eternal dance card. This semi-artsy horror film was made by independent filmmaker Herk Harvey and a bunch of his pals, neighbors and business partners in Kansas and Utah. This thrice wrapped tale of "a stranger among the living" wanders throuh Mr. Lobo's wacky wrap-arounds, retro TV commercials, drive-in trailers and guest appearances.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Candace Hilligoss, Mr. Lobo, Keith Lowell Jensen, Amy Wright
  • Directors: Mr. Lobo, Herk Harvey
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Apprehensive Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 9, 2010
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0039XJGN2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #653,256 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Mark Shanks VINE VOICE on June 16, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The merits of this film are obvious enough to simply summarize: it is the one and only original shoestring budget classic. No, the plot isn't original, but that hasn't stopped others from picking it up and running with it, sometimes in different directions, and sometimes even more successfully (see "Jacob's Ladder" for a deeper, and darker, take). But I doubt that ANYone ANYwhere has made a better film for less money; as someone below wrote, ""Blair Witch", eat your heart out."
And then to have it released on a Criterion DVD, well, it just doesn't get any better than that! OK, we may not need TWO versions, .... And the second DVD isn't just a filler: you get anything and everything you could think of associated with the movie, including "now and then" visits to the film sites, a great hour-long tribute, a history of the film company, stills, probably more than all but the most compulsive fan would want but you won't feel as though you've gotten short-changed! As always, the real reason we love Criterion is the quality of their prints - they are simply THE BEST you are going to see. Anyone who has seen this film on one of its numerous cheapie incarnations on VHS will be ecstatic with this version - you won't believe how superior the picture quality is.
I have to say "get this now, before it's discontinued". This edition can NOT be bettered; you will NEVER EVER see a better version of this classic sleeper.
Now, Criterion, when are you going to release Robert Wise's "The Haunting", hmmmm?
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hirshleifer on June 18, 2000
Format: DVD
Carnival of Souls is an old B-film that you might have seen on old Saturday night horror shows. As Herk Harvey (the director) said, this film was shot on a budget that wouldn't have sustained the opening moments of Back To The Future. However, this film is able to sustain a creepy and oppressive atmosphere throughout, and that is the major achievement. Even though I knew when every "scary" moment was coming, and I guessed the ending 20 minutes before the film actually ended, that knowledge didn't ruin it for me. That's how strong the movie is, that you can enjoy the film even if you knew everything about it. The acting is stiff and the dialogue is often stilted, but that just adds to the strange and dark atmosphere of the film. And the Criterion release is a real gem. Two discs, the first has the theatrical release of the film, and the second has the director's cut. The film looks incredible. I've yet to see such an old and cheaply made movie look so good. And the extras are also great. Documentaries, outtakes, interviews, and oh, that organ music. If you're a fan of horror, you must own this film. If you're a film buff, you must own it. If you're a DVD afficionado, you must own it. If you're just looking for a good movie to watch on a Saturday night, then please, choose this one. It delivers.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Billy Pilgrim on August 30, 2001
Format: DVD
Yes, some of the acting is very bad. Yes, some of the sound is not in sync with the picture (a quality, in my mind, which adds to the "out of body" atmosphere.) And yes, some times the organ only sound track can wear a little thin (even though, for the most part, it makes the film.) Yes, this movie has some flaws. That's because it's shot on a budget of $30,000. By guys who made hygeine films for a living. Who also didn't have the cash to pay professional actors. All of these detials are completely unimportant.
To fully experience this film, you have to discover it in the way most of its fans do. On a TV set, in the early hours of the morning, alone, with the volume at an almost non-exsistent level. And it also doesn't hurt to be half way asleep. The scene in which Mary glances "The Man's" face in the window will jolt you awake like nothing else.
Some personal favourite moments: The above mentioned scene in the window of the car. The organ playing scenes ("Profanity! Sacralige!") The scenes in which Mary loses all contact with the world of the living (these sequences caused me nightmares.) Candace Hiligos (a great performance, comparable to the best silent film acting.) And of course, the final "dance of the dead."
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Brent Carleton on February 16, 2006
Format: DVD
Gallons of ink have been devoted, (justifiably) to this film. But few have perhaps paid sufficient due to the cinematographer, Maurice Prather.

Mr. Prather aids and abets the script at every turn in his rendering of Miss Hilligoss's (in the role of Mary Henry) isolation from those around her. From his crow's nest shots of her wandering through the deserted carnival to the scenes of her lone sedan traversing the twilight prairie highway, he unfailingly delivers a picture of un-peopled vastness--a vastness that cannot be breached by human or psychic outreach.

And that is what this film is really about--Mary Henry's inability to accept the fact that she has already departed from the world she continues to haunt.

Ultimately she knows, (as does her personal Charon--the Carnival Ghoul) that she must be reclaimed--and it is in her persistent refusal to yield to his summons, from which the conflict and tension of the film springs.

This is perhaps revealed most disquietingly in a scene near the beginning of the film, when the minister accompanies her to take a look at the abandoned carnival--but refuses to accompany her across the barricade. Thus, though the visit is without ostensible horrific incident--it concludes with a silhouette of the Carnival Ghoul dropping his head in resignation from behind a gated doorway inside the pavilion, while at the very same moment, Miss Hilligoss, (seemingly safe in a car already miles away) is stabbed with a sudden deja vu--reflected with a rueful knowing in her eyes--one of many brilliant moments in a film brimming with them.

And it should not merely be to the cognoscente that such an inevitable moment as this, terrifies far more meaningfully, than any knife wielding Friday the 13th slasher might.
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Do you know the name of this film?
The plot sounds like the 1991 version of A Kiss Before Dying, as there is no train in the 1956 version.
Apr 3, 2012 by D. J. Kalous |  See all 2 posts
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