Thursday, October 30, 2014

Movie Review: Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls
Starring: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison, Stan Levitt, Herk Hervey
Director: Herk Harvey 
Harcourt Productions, USA, 1962. 
This movie is also published a part of Horror Movie 50 movie pack box published by Mill Creek Entertainment. 

Young folks are drag racing at a bridge. The car falls down into the river and all the passengers are drowned except Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss). How she survived is a mystery. Mary travels to Utah where she has a job as a church organist. However she is not putting her soul into playing the instrument. Her car radio starts playing demonic organ music. She sees also a reflection of scary ghoulish  man (Herk Harvey) in the side window. She passes an abandoned pavilion, used for carnivals that begins to entice her. 
The car falls down into the river
Mary survives
Candace Hilligoss and Tom McGinnis
Mary does not put soul into the music
Mary goes to her new work place, the church. The reverend (Art Ellison) suggest that she should meet the congregation, but Mary refuses because she is not a social person.  She begins to practise organ playing. She sees the mysterious man again and stops playing. She thinks that she has maybe practised for too long. The reverend  takes her to sight-see the pavilion. 
Mary playing the organ
Ghoulish man appears
Candace Hilligoss
Mary at her new job
Mary rents a room from Mrs. Thomas (Frances Feist). The other guest John Linden (Sidney Berger) wants to know Mary better, but she is not interested and drives him away. Mary gets again scared by the ghoulish man, but Mrs. Thomas says that there was not any weird man. At night she dreams about the pavilion. 
Sidney Berger
John Linden wants to date Mary
Abandoned pavilion
When she goes to shopping there is an moment when she becomes invisible to other people. When she sees the ghoulish man again she snaps out of the trance and stumbles into Dr. Samuels (Stan Levitt) who offers some therapy. Mary thinks that her imagination is playing tricks on her and decides that maybe going to the pavilion might help. 
Stan Levitt and candace Hilligoss
Dr. Samuels tries to help Mary
Candace hilligoss scared
Moment of horror
Herk Hervey ghoulish man
Ghoulish man haunts Mary
The movie has a great uniquely nightmarish atmosphere. Mary seems a cold person, but the reason becomes clear in the end. Also because the budget was low, there is no big staging and the bars, shops and other locations seem like real businesses. This creates almost an documentary feel of early 1960s America. Gene Moore's eerie organ music is just perfect for the film. The movie was not a big success when it released. This was the only feature length film Herk Hervey directed. The picture quality of the Mill Creek release is decent. There are better versions available, and also a not bad computer-colorized version.

Rating: Excellent

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