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on 26 November 2015
If every low budget horror movie put this much of effort and love into their craft there would be no such thing as a bad horror movie with no money. Made for just $17,000 director Herk Harvey who also stars as the 'man' in the movie has pulled something very unique here. Carnival of Souls was of course a box office disaster and faded from memiry until the 70s and 80s where the movie was frequently shown on late night TV. I myself caught an original airing and was petrified of the movie. As an adult it can all be taken in and appreciated much more now.

The imagery and nightmarish world that our character must go through to learn the truth of her fate is top class, and there are genuine creepy moments laden throughout the movie. The acting is very fair considering most 'actors' were just locales from the film set, but the movie works just fine. In fact countless horror movies have copied many scenes from this film, you end up losing count half way through.

The one criticism towards the film could be that you know what's coming and the cards are dealt early on, but it's such an horrific and glorious encounter that you don't mind one bit. A very important horror movie for the genre.

This review is from the Criterion 2 disc edition which has 2 versions of the movie, commentary, and a ton of extras with booklet so well worth getting over the other editions available.
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on 9 November 2017
The usual outstanding Criterion issue with really clear black & white image.
One reviewer comments about the 83 minute 'directors' cut. Well, the relevant deleted scenes are on the Blu-Ray & quite honestly the film is better without them, the 78 minute cut is better; pity about the reel of film lost soon after production that would have added about 7 minutes, but would it be better than the current issue?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 January 2014
Mary and her two friends leave the road and fly off a bridge during a friendly dragster race. She is the only survivor and after her recovery she takes up a job as the church organist in a new town, but she is constantly blighted by a ghostly like visitor and periods of time when nobody seems to know she exists.

A hinted spoiler follows.

Carnival Of Souls has thankfully found a whole new audience in the new millennium, the advent of cheap triple pack DVDs and a lush Criterion release have brought it firmly to the attention of Horror/Ghost fans who were not aware that the film even existed. That said, there is no doubting that many big name directors were fully aware of it, tho, for Carnival Of Souls has influenced such luminary genre masters from Romero to Carpenter, and from Hooper to Shyamalan, be it the low budget DIY ethic, or its now genre staple twist ending, it's a film (along with it's director Herk Harvey) that is referenced as much as it is copied.

The tag often used for the film is that it's an elongated Twilight Zone episode, and sure enough I think that is a perfect fit. Its whole structure feels like a part of that wonderful and amazing Rod Serling show, and for sure this story owes a doff of the cap to An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (an Ambrose Bierce short that was reworked and used on Serling's show), but to merely suggest a retread of a previously used idea would be very unfair. Carnival Of Souls is full of eerie sequences that are dream like in quality yet goose pimply in effect. Scored at frequent intervals by a jangling organ shrill, the ghostly phantoms that plague poor Mary actually bring a shiver to the spine; while a surrealistic dance of the carnival is a stunning eerie highlight. It's a wonderfully brought together story that has one pondering uneasily from the get go, managing to jolt your senses adroitly with a very special ending.

With a small budget of only $30,000 and a cast of friends, Herk Harvey crafted one of the best independent horror sub-genre films ever made. Don't believe me? Then go ask Romero, Raimi or Hooper. 8/10
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on 12 December 2017
At last, my favourite horror film of all time receives the attention it deserves. Beautifully remastered and accompanied by lots of tantalising bonus material, this is the only version of Carnival of Souls that you should purchase. Bravo, Criterion. Bravo!
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on 4 May 2017
Slightly dated, at times poorly edited and some awful voice dubbing aside, this film is a must see for fans of 'thoughtful' horror movies. Haunting, dramatic and at times quite humorous this film with an amazing lead performance from Candace Hillgoss playing a woman 'lost' is a must see.

Without spoiling the film it isn't hard to discover the twist but the films acting, amazing score and stunning on location cinematography makes it unforgettable.
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on 23 October 2013
I first saw this about 20 years ago and finally bought it to find out if it was as creepy and eerily atmospheric as I remembered it being. It's rarely shown on TV so getting it on DVD was my only chance of seeing it again. The recording quality isn't great but I still think the film stands the test of time quite well. There are some scenes that are unintentionally funny but it is still a highly original and daring treatment of the theme. Bit like 'Psycho', in that it follows the story of a blonde woman of slightly dubious moral character whilst other aspects seem to look forward to the work of M Knight Shamalyan. Not flawless by any means but a welcome addition to my collection of ghost and horror movies.
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on 8 January 2014
A haunting and unique black & white 1960's ghostly tale that entertains many genre specifics. A precursor to modern horror traditions. It's darkly creepy, beyond standard fair. The stories main protagonist goes on an adventure she was perhaps originally destined not to make. A second chance after a fatal accident which leaves all but her dead. This close call allows a renewed Mary Henry played by Candace Hilligoss to brake the shackles of small town acceptance. Half road movie, half trip into probable paranoia and a ghostly guide that hints at other matters beyond Mary's slow but growing concern for her state of being and her spiral into perceived madness perhaps? A stunning little independent movie that offers an ending so uniquely spell-bounding with characters that hint at a time and influence that spirited one George A. Romero to create his later 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead. A superior gem on every supernatural level. Yes slightly dated but putting that aside, what a uncompromising stunner. Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls (1962) defines and offers great riches. A true genre classic.
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on 1 June 2015
Weird and made weirder by the amateur acting which lends it a lost-in-time kind of tone but therefore somehow much more entrancing than some of the professional horror films of the time. You could call it a kind of accident but it has enough thought to be more than that. A cultish film: clumsy but impressive amateur piece with some poetic and creepy moments.
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on 9 March 2016
Good value, film has atmosphere all of its own. Even tho' I had viewed the film before, still enjoyed the other-worldly feel to the photography and music.
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on 24 March 2014
First saw this on tv in b/w when a small boy-never forgot it.While not especially scary,it's one of those films you never forget.Would have loved to visit the original Saltair pavilion,but the present one is a mile from the first one.You can clearly see this is a colorised version,but it gives the film a fresher look.
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