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Carnival of Souls - IN COLOR! Also Includes the Original Black-and-White Version which has been Beautifully Restored and Enhanced!

4.3 out of 5 stars 299 customer reviews

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(May 16, 2000)
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(Mar 29, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Take a ride with young church organist Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) as she encounters a world where the difference between the living and the dead is impossible to discern. Each step plunges her deeper into the nightmare of The Carnival of Souls. Herk Harvey's 1962 classic cult horror movie was the precursor to such eerie films as The Shining and The Sixth Sense. Now it's restored and in COLOR for the first time, and complete with an irreverent bonus commentary by Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000. For pure skin-crawling spookiness, Carnival of Souls is in a class by itself.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Herk Harvey
  • Directors: Herk Harvey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Legend Films Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: September 22, 2009
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BSBBEE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,677 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Carnival of Souls - IN COLOR! Also Includes the Original Black-and-White Version which has been Beautifully Restored and Enhanced!" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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