Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Carnival of Souls

From the mid 1950's to early 60's, horror was at a very interesting time. You had Hitchcock leading the way for his unique storytelling and direction and you had Ed Wood Jr. just trying to find his B grade audience who would appreciate what he was trying to do. But in 1962 Herk Harvey directed a film which stood between sheer greatness and just plain bad; that film was 'Carnival of Souls'. I actually had not seen this film before, I had always steered clear of it because I was afraid of being bored all the way through it all the while imagining a better movie in my head - That's normal right? Either way I was pleasantly surprised but not so surprised I would put it in my top 100 favourite horror films of all time.

The story line is pretty easy to follow and if it was made today I believe it would make one creepy film(if put in the right hands of course). The films revolves around a woman called Mary Henry who was in a car with two of her gal pals and doing what any normal young girls would do; accept a drag race from some young and cute juvenile delinquents - Alright maybe I might be stereotyping the guys just a little...Anyways as they are racing they come to a bridge and of course it's all fun and games until one of the cars plunges into the river, yep those poor girls die...or do they? One of them so happens to escape and from that moment on weird stuff starts to happen to this girl. Within less than a week of the accident she drives to Utah to become a church organist(that isn't what is weird, her miraculous recovery is though). As she tries to start her life again after the accident she starts to see a silent yet creepy man who just won't seem to leave her alone. As the film progresses and her paranoia is going into overdrive she starts to maybe think is this creepy man is trying to lure her somewhere that has a purpose in her life? But is he? Or is he just trying to mess with her because hey isn't that what most creepy people do?

There were several things I did like about the film one of them was the music, it was just creepy, but didn't put me on edge like the 'Halloween' themes does. It was still really well constructed music for it's time. I did love the leading lady played by Candace Hilligoss because I really could believe and see her slipping into some weird world of insanity, and to say the film isn't very long just shows she definitely had the acting chops to pull of such an intense role and make you believe her with such time constraints. As for the 'creepy' man who was actually played by the film's director, I just couldn't get scared by him. But hey this film was made in 1962. I am sure if I saw it back then at the drive-in with my varsity football player boyfriend I would more than likely hide my face with my hands and demand to be taken home...Okay probably not. This film does have a horror vibe about it with maybe a hint of the supernatural and a touch of thriller. I think that is one of the main problems with the film, it doesn't actually know what it is because it just seems a little messy. The tone of the film is creepy but there isn't much more depth than that outer layer. The script and overall film seem to be as well structured as it could be with the resources they had and you can see where the film could have possibly gone if it was given more money and perhaps more support. You can definitely see where Herk Harvey took his influences from and how he tried to recreate them with his own personal stamp but it just fell a bit short for me. 

If you are into classic horror, you should check it out but don't go thinking it is going to be up there with classics like 'The Innocents' and 'Rebecca' because it isn't. Take it for what it is, and you might be able to see how this film has influenced other horror films that came after it. It is by no means so bad that is comes across as comical it is just very average. If I could rate this out of 5 I would give it a 2.5. Check it out here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQVTQEVklFQ&feature=youtu.be 

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