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Carnival of Souls (The Criterion Collection) (1962)

Candace Hilligoss , Frances Feist , Herk Harvey  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Steve Boozer, Forbes Caldwell
  • Directors: Herk Harvey
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 16, 2000
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1559409002
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,692 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Carnival of Souls (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Contains both the original theatrical version (78 min.) and the extended director's cut (83 min.) on two separate discs
  • Disc One: Luminous new digital transfer of the original theatrical version of the film; The Movie That Wouldn't Die! The Story of Carnival of Souls, a documentary on the 1989 reunion of the cast and crew; More than 45 minutes of rare outtakes accompanied by Gene Moore's organ score; Theatrical trailer; An illustrated history of the Saltair resort in Salt Lake City; The Carnival Tour, a video update on the film's locations
  • Disc Two: The extended director's cut of the film; One hour of excerpts from films made by the Centron Corporation, an industrial film company based in Lawrence, Kansas that employed Harvey and Clifford for over 30 years; An essay on the history of Centron from Mental Hygiene, Ken Smith's new book on industrial and educational filmmaking; Tom Weaver's printed interviews with Harvey, Clifford and star Candace Hilligoss, illustrated with vintage photos and memorabilia

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Herk Harvey's macabre masterpiece gained a cult following through late night television and has been bootlegged for years. Made by industrial filmmakers on a modest budget, Carnival of Souls was intended to have the "look of a Bergman" and "feel of a Cocteau," and succeeds with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score. Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) survives a drag race in a rural Kansas town, then takes a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she becomes haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her to an abandoned lakeside pavilion. Criterion is proud to present the ultimate special edition of this eerily effective B-movie classic that continues to inspire filmmakers today.

An ultra-cheap B-horror movie, filmed in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1962, with a really creepy Twilight Zone-style premise and some great shoestring atmosphere. Wandering into a small town after an auto accident, to begin her new job as a church organist, young Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) begins to pick up strange vibes: none of the normal people in town seem to be able to see her, and she keeps being accosted by freakish pasty-faced types who seem to be dead on their feet. The nightmarish finale benefits from its one-of-a-kind "found" setting, an empty amusement park rising like a ghostly castle from the prairie landscape. This is much less aggressive and violent film than George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead, but for sheer skin- crawling spookiness, it's in the same class. --David Chute --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once again, THANK YOU, Criterion! 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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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A B-film that actually works June 18, 2000
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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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will you stop [complaining] about the flaws? August 30, 2001
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychic isolation rendered through landscape. February 16, 2006
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Creepy Film
Feel guilty praising such a scary, eerie film but so very effective that it is an absolute classic.
Gets to our primal fears
Published 29 days ago by D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
classic 1960's horror!!!
Published 1 month ago by john dente jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Effectively creepy horror gem!
Published 1 month ago by Emily
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Schmaltz
So bad it's indescribably good. Awesome classic cars are a bonus
Published 2 months ago by nycajun
5.0 out of 5 stars ... this movie since I was a kid (scared the crap out of me)
Personally I haven't watched this movie since I was a kid (scared the crap out of me). But my sister has fond memories of it, so I had to get it for her. Go Sis!
Published 2 months ago by Robert Kozelski
4.0 out of 5 stars Good 'B' Horror Film
Though Carnival of Souls is far from perfect, it nevertheless is a decent horror film that can be appreciated for its low budget. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Todd7
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool Old Flick
The acting is horrible, but it's still a cool old flick, worth a beer and a bowl of popcorn...maybe on a crisp fall night...
Published 4 months ago by Hot hands
5.0 out of 5 stars nice
good film and good quality. I enjoyed the film. I recommend it to horror film lovers, especially if you like the classics. Not really scary but entertaining and spooky. Read more
Published 4 months ago by dev
2.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Effort, Unworthy of a Criterion Release
Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls is a film that deserves a once-over from any fan of atmospheric horror; while it falls short of any kind of technical or artistic achievement, it... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Zenith
3.0 out of 5 stars The Abandoned Carnival
This film shows sparks of brilliance, but a lack of editing and over-long scene work into mundane territory makes "Carnival of Souls" a once in a lifetime viewing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Clayton
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This disc does not have subtitles. The Criterion version might, but I'm not sure. Hope this helps (even if it is late)
Jun 16, 2009 by Brian T |  See all 2 posts
subtitles for the hard of hearing? Be the first to reply
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