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31 Days of Horror Movies: Carnival of Souls


I had a conversation t'other night with a friend who seemed to make a distinction between horror movies and ghost stories. I tend to lump them together (although one could argue that 1981's classic Ghost Story isn't really a horror film). At any rate, today's pick could definitely fall into the ghost story realm for some, but I still consider it to be horror. With that said, let's take a look at....

Carnival of Souls


This cheaply-made movie has a lot going for it. Director Herk Harvey (who also plays the creepy man following our heroine) manages to create the plausible world of a woman, Mary Henry (played to good, doe-eyed effect by Candace Hilligoss), who appears to be the lone survivor of an accident that sees a car filled with her and some friends tumble-off a bridge and into the river below.

Mary eventually ends up in a small town where she attempts to start a new life for herself, taking-up the job of organist at the local church. Unfortunately, it is not to be a happy time period for Mary, as she begins to hear organ music in the most unusual places, a desolate-looking pavilion on the edge of a lake seems to beckon to her, she keeps having moments when the sound changes and then no one can see or hear her and, as if all that wasn't bad enough, a ghoulish man keeps appearing to torment her.

I won't go into how Carnival of Souls resolves itself. It's good, although it does raise a few "Yes, but..." questions. It's an odd film, a quirky film. It (unfairly in my opinion) has ended up on Michael Nelson's rather unfunny RiffTrax series, wherein he uses a running audio commentary to poke fun at films (not unlike what he did on MST3K). Yes, the movie has some stiff acting and low-budget issues, but I think it's one of those occasions where that sort of stuff serves to enhance the unsettling vibe.

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