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Carnival of Souls

Herk Harvey

A young woman in a small Kansas town survives a drag race accident, then agrees to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she becomes haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her toward an abandoned lakeside pavilion. Made by industrial filmmakers on a modest budget, the eerily effective B-movie classic Carnival of Souls was intended to have “the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau”—and, with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score, it succeeds. Herk Harvey’s macabre masterpiece gained a cult following on late-night television and continues to inspire filmmakers today.

“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.” – Slant

“The crux of ’Carnival’s’ enduring and unsettling power is its ability to convey death as a quantum leap through the flimsy, easily punctured fabric delineating a carefully constructed ‘self’ from an endlessly reflected “irrational” other projecting its own consciousness. ‘Carnival of Souls’ is probably the first time a nightmare has been fully captured on screen, and Mary is every blighted traveler of the sub-conscious…” – Jennifer Matsui, The Chiseler

“A genuinely creepy thriller, humble in scope and lacking some polish, but executed with ghoulish intuition. Shot in Kansas and Salt Like City for peanuts in 1962, it’s hard to credit the movie with inventing anything, and yet it offers uncanny echoes and premonitions of so many renowned films and filmmakers both past and future that it demands to be considered and appreciated on their level.” – Nick’s Flicks

“This miraculous motion picture is a dip into the Midwestern uncanny, ghosts haunting the long flat highways and abandoned amusements. It’s one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen” – Movie Morlocks


  • 10/27 | 6:00PM
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