Monday, September 13, 2010

Carnival Of Souls 1962

Cheaply made little supernatural horror flick about a young woman who survives a terrible car accident or does she? The director Herk Harvey whose only film this was, worked for years in an educational and industrial film production company along with his screenwriter John Clifford so he at leas...t brought some knowledge and skill about filmmaking to the project. Full of eccentric and odd touches with some very amateurish acting, but nicely photographed on the fly in Lawrence Kansas and Salt Lake City. The main architectural element in the movie is a large abandoned falling down amusement park built in the late 19th century which has a strong strange pull over Mary the young woman played by Candace Hilligoss a method actress from New York who is between life and death (aren't we all) and who sometimes becomes invisible to people (don’t we all sometimes feel this way?) Mary who after recovering from the accident drives to Salt Lake City to take on a gig as an organ player in a church (I’m serious) but feels no spiritual calling and considers this just a job. She finds cheap lodging in a neat & tidy little house run by an older woman who tells Mary that she has no problem with her taking as many baths as she pleases, and brings her sandwiches and coffee for dinner. Nice. Mary is bothered by the only other border in the house, an oversexed unattractive factory worker who wants only one thing from her and will not let up until Mary goes out with him. Needless to say their evening out is a disaster. Mary is very troubled and from time to time gets hysterical thinking that a strange man (played by the director) in ghoulish white make is following her. By chance a doctor happens by when she is having one of her fits on the street and comes to her rescue, but I found him to be aggressive and brutish to her. There are quite a few memorable moments in this odd and unique film like Mary rising out of the water and mud (the still of this scene is haunting ) after everyone thinks that Mary and the other two girls in the car have perished after it went through a railing on a bridge, falling hard and fast into the river below. Also good is the scene where Mary goes to a department store to buy a new dress, and she becomes invisible to the sales girl and the customers. This becoming invisible happens to her quite a bit, and we wonder what the hell is going on with this young woman. The film for me is comparable to the work of some outsider art, a unique vision, direct and unquestionably disturbing. One of the best films of 1962.


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