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3,248 Ratings

Carnival of Souls

Directed by Herk Harvey
United States, 1962
Fantasy, Horror, Mystery


In Herk Harvey’s macabre masterpiece, Mary Henry survives a drag race in a rural Kansas town, then takes a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she becomes haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her to an abandoned lakeside pavilion.

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Carnival of Souls Directed by Herk Harvey
Some scenes look Ed Wood cheap, and others are lit and framed with startling beauty. It’s some kind of quintessentially American low-budget triumph, and it deserves its cult following. Herk Harvey stayed active but never made another feature film (his last directing credit was, curiously enough, an episode of Reading Rainbow). But for anyone who loves independent cinema, or the way cheap B-movies can touch on serious emotional ideas, it was enough.
October 27, 2017
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It’s nominally a horror film, but it’s a story of mental derangement with a premise of metaphysical shock that’s more or less detachable from its richly textured and disturbingly inventive cinematic essence.
September 27, 2016
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The dilapidated pavilion of the film’s title (actually Saltair, on the southern edge of Great Salt Lake) is rendered by Harvey with an evocative awareness of spatial emptiness that’s both mythical and commonplace. Accompanying this imagery is Gene’s Moore’s poignant organ score, which strengthens the subtext of sexual repression and gives the film a lonely spectral quality. Carnival of Souls is an unshakable expression of estrangement.
July 12, 2016
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