Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012: Carnival Of Souls (1962)

The second film in Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012 offers further proof of how dangerous a woman behind the wheel can be!

Written By: John Clifford
Directed By: Herk Harvey

Herk Harvey took a little bit of money and used it to make a horror classic. Everything about Carnival Of Souls is a result of the lack of money which Mr. Harvey had to work with. This never plays out in a bad way mind you, instead it allows Mr. Harvey to focus on atmosphere and eerie tension. There aren’t any crazy effects or gory moments to be found in Carnival Of Souls. What Mr. Harvey provides is a horror film that is willing to trade on the classic horror idea of the unknown.

We know next to nothing about the lead character, Mary, in Carnival Of Souls. She is an enigma, possibly bipolar, and never the same woman from moment to moment. She was in an accident, and she may or may not have seriously been hurt. Mary is a church organist, but she also has a fascination with chamber music of a more insidious variety. If I took every morsel of information the film gave me about Mary and put it in a blender I would have a two ounce shot glass of content to work with. What amazed me about Carnival Of Souls was how very little of Mary’s story was needed  for me to enjoy the film.

The score for Carnival Of Souls is legitimately creepy, it comes at the viewer like it is from some hideous unknown source. The tension mounts, the dread is palpable, it fills out the film in a very complimentary fashion. Sliding in and out of the score is Mary, the eternal unknown. The score of the film does not fit her visage, she is not the type of woman who should have a creepy soundtrack to her life. Yet she does, and that just adds to the great unknown that is Carnival Of Souls.

There is no great denouement in Carnival Of Souls. There is no moment when Mr. Harvey offers up all the answers and gently guides the viewer into understanding. The ending is just as puzzling as what comes before. In fact, the ending provides the stamp on how creepy the unknown can be. What we don’t know creates the most tension. The end comes and we don’t know whether Mary has died, passed away earlier, or is trapped in the never ending nightmare that is her mind.

The “what is reality” approach to horror doesn’t always produce the best films. Luckily Carnival Of Souls takes an atmospheric approach to nightmare or reality. Carnival Of Souls oozes atmosphere from its every pore, the type of atmosphere that only the best of horror movies can pull off. Mr. Harvey’s brilliantly constructed atmosphere is enhanced by a great lead performance and some genuinely creepy moments. Trapped in betwen the lands of James Whale and Alfred Hitchcock, Carnival Of Souls is a classic and suspenseful horror film that truly delivers.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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One response to “Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012: Carnival Of Souls (1962)

  1. Pingback: Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012: The 3rd Annual Bloody Machete Awards | Bill's Movie Emporium

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