Genre: Horror, Psychological, Ghost
Source: My Own Collection
I can not tell you how surprised I was at how good this movie actually was! I had had my expectations rather low, but none the less this excellent low-budget horror movie exceeded those expectations by quite a margin.
Starting with the story, this movie has a great intelligent Ghost story that relies on atmosphere rather then special effects and gore. In a nut shell the movie`s about this girl who gets involved in a drag race with her friends which they end up having there car crash over the side of bridge and sink to the bottom of the deep murky river. Everyone is assumed dead until our main character suddenly emerges from the river alive. As soon as she recovers she leaves the town and goes to another to become and becomes its church organist, only to be stalked and hunted by a mysterious phantom figure and other ghostly apparitions, as well as being endlessly psychologically drawn to an old run down farm carnival at the edge of the town.
As you might notice the movie`s story is a bit deeper and more psychologically aimed then your average low budget horror movie. Even though upon it`s initial release were it performed quite poorly it has since gained a huge cult following and has inspired countless other filmmakers such as George Romero who said that this movie severed as one of the main inspiration`s for his classic Night Of The Living Dead. Even recently the people behind the excellent horror movie Insidious stated Carnival Of Souls served as a inspiration for them. I also very much loved the ending! Its anything but happy but at the same time it fits the movie perfectly.
I also must complement the "Ghost" in this movie`s. They didn`t look like typical ghosts instead they more so reminded me of the zombies from Night Of The Living Dead. With ghostly white faces and dark eye-liner. A frightening and sinister design I must say. On top of that the sets were also superb especially for a low-budget feature. They were authentic looking and detailed, which mainly is because everything was shot on location in Utah and Kansas. Which ended up to be a smart move by its director Herk Harvey.
Altogether 1962`s Carnival Of Souls ends up being a superb work of low budget independent filmmaking that far exceeds the normal standards. The movie`s atmosphere is always eerie and creepy, the characters all seem to be well performed by the actors (which is saying a lot since they were pretty much all unknowns). Lastly one thing I purposely didn't cover was the 1998 straight to DVD remake of this movie that was actually produced by Wes Craven. I have not seen it, but I hear its awful and bears little resemblance to this movie. Which is especially sad because at first the star of this movie was trying to get a sequel to this movie to be made but the studio turned her down in favour of making a remake of it instead. To say the least Candace Hilligross was very bitter about it and refused to make a cameo in the remake. Oh well, just thought that was some interesting trivia. Anyways this original movie is outstanding and I would highly recommend it to the serious horror movie fan.