Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Month of Classic Horror: Carnival of Souls

I bought this 50 pack of classic horror movies a few years ago because I love Halloween, but I hate slasher films. I prefer creepy over gory. In the interest of getting through most of this set, I’m going to try watching one film a day. I don’t know if I’ll make it because life and all that, but I’m going to try. First up:

Starring: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sydney Berger
Year: 1962

Summary: A young woman apparently survives a drag race accident that had the car she was in toppling off a bridge and into the river below. Unfazed by this experience, the woman heads off across country to her new job as a church organist. Experiencing strange things along her trip and also when she arrives at her new home, the woman begins to suspect that her survival of the accident was not as it appears.

The first thing I noticed is that the audio quality is not great. It starts out with two groups of people in two cars, and the dialogue is barely audible over the engines. The insert says this was made in 1962, but I find that hard to believe unless it just wasn’t well preserved. (Looking at the reviews on Amazon, I see that the quality of all the films in this set is hit-or-miss.)

However, despite some of my difficulty in hearing some of the dialogue (there’s no closed captioning available), the strength of this movie is its settings. Apparently, it was shot on a fairly small budget of $30,000, all raised by local businesses in Lawrence, Kansas. All the staples are there--a church, a carnival, a department store—and they’re all appropriately creepy. The main character is an organist, and we all know organ music is perfect for horror movies. Or maybe I’ve just watched Phantom of the Opera too many times.

The scariest element of this movie is the guy who peeps on the main character while she’s changing and then continues to ask her out and bother her even though she’s not interested. He even asks her if she’s “afraid of men” and tells her that she’s “cold.” Ugh. Seems things haven’t changed in 50 years.

All in all, Carnival of Souls is mildly creepy and has a great title, but I don’t think I’d watch it again.

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