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Carnival Of Souls (Elstree Hill Collection)

Released on 25 October 2004

Featuring: Candace Hilligoss, Sidney Berger & Frances Feist

Format: DVD | Rating: 15 years & over

4.0 out of 5 (2 customer reviews) | Write a review

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Three friends are out for a day's drive when they accept a drag challenge. Their car is forced off a bridge and plunges in to a river. with all three appearing to have drowned. Eventually Mary resurfaces and makes her way into town where she accepts a job as a church organist, but a mysterious phantom figure begins to dog her every move.
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customer Reviews

 Average rating (2 reviews)

 Influential, atmospheric chilling slice of low budget horror

| | See all djinnie's reviews (2)

One of the problems with modern Horror is that for every true gem that slides out of a dark and twisted mind there is Eli Roth. The fratboy mentality that passes off gore and nudity as substitutes for plot, tension and atmosphere. This leaves fans of the horror genre with a choice. What is it about horror that appeals? Graphic sequences with blood and blades? Try Dario Argento. Or is it the sense of something ominous building? Something as unstoppable as time that leaves those it chases unable to respond with anything other than sheer primal terror?

Carnival of Souls falls into the later category. There is no big budget on display here. The accident that sparks off the whole chain of events happens within five minutes of the film starting. With a budget this small there is no room for the superfluous. And yet...

The disintegration of the main character's mental state is brilliantly recognised through simple yet effective special effects and actions. The scene where she opts to spend time with her sleazy housemate to try and escape the shadowy figure chasing her is fantastic. Forget that this film was made in the sixties, you'd be hard pressed to find a more repellant 'saviour' in any modern horror film.

And as for the demon tormentor... silent, with dark eyes boring out of a skull like face. His motives are unknown, he's just creepy as hell, and always watching...

Short and sweet, the film gathers momentum from the opening frame and ends in a stunning sequence involving one of the best locations of any horror film.

Horror fans and low budget film makers take note. This is a film you NEED in your collection.

 Carnival of Souls - magic little 60s low-budget horror film

| | See all OldEnglandsEyes69's reviews (401)

Top 100  Reviewer Top 10 Music Reviewer

I first came by Herk Harvey's "Carnival of Souls" as a freebie with a DVD magazine in 2002, which stated that it was "for the first time presented in Super psychorama stereophonic".

This basically meant green inserts in the black and white film when the spooky guy (Harvey himself) appeared (which was actually quite effective), as there was no sign of true stereophonic sound. The player nevertheless did indicate DD 2 channel and the 3D option on the flat panel TV speakers made a difference (which it doesn't with monaural sound).

If I even try to tell you about the basic storyline it will spoil the film so I won't. Suffice to say it's an above average but nevertheless typical low-budget early 60s spooky black and white B-movie horror, with ghostly organ music adding to the atmosphere, and it's now something of a cult film. Candace Hilligoss gives a good performance as the main character, lonely woman Mary Henry. Creepy locations and effects abound amongst the apparent normality of this lonely woman's life.

The film was supposedly a big influence on future horror specialist George Romero.

Anyway, I liked it so much I bought the rather luxurious US Criterion 2-disc edition featuring the cover picture shown here (as the single disc English issue was at that time selling for the ridiculous full-price of 20GBP).

The sound is OK for its time but the picture, though good, contains some sparklies and an odd diabolical blemish.

If you buy this I recommend that Criterion Edition, as it includes the Theatrical and extended Director's cuts, an informative booklet and a plethora of extras, though the green inserts when the spooky guy appears and the DD 2 channel sound are not there.

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ActorsCandace Hilligoss, Sidney Berger, Frances Feist, Herk Harvey, Stan Levitt & Art Ellison
DirectorHerk Havey
Certificate15 years and over
Year1962
LanguagesEnglish
Duration1 hour 15 minutes (approx)
RegionRegion 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.