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Carnival of Souls

USA 1962. Dir: Herk Harvey. 78 min. DCP

Who knew Utah could be so… macabre! The only theatrical film from Kansas-based industrial-moviemaker Herk Harvey is a delectably creepy, B-horror masterwork that, thanks to decades of late-night television reruns, has amassed a considerable cult following! Cheating death in a car crash, a young, faithless woman relocates to Salt Lake City for a job as a church organist, and is soon tormented by a chilling, chalk-faced apparition (an un-credited Harvey) with strange ties to an abandoned carnival pavilion outside town. Masking its near-nil budget with technical ingenuity and oodles of European-inspired ambiance — the acknowledged influence of Bergman and Cocteau writ large — Carnival of Souls pioneered the indie horror film years before George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead proved they could turn a profit (RIP George). David Lynch’s white-faced, black-attired bogeymen originate here! “Chill-up-the-spine cinema … An existential horror cheapie” (Joe Brown, Washington Post).

 

REVIEWS

“The film feels more masterful than ever, so clearly ahead of its time and eternally powerful.”

RogerEbert.com | full review

★★★★★ “It's difficult to overstate how important Carnival of Souls is in the history of the independent horror movie … It retains an atmosphere of melancholic, surreal dread.”

Empire | full review