Carnival of Souls (1962) - Rotten Tomatoes

Carnival of Souls (1962)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Carnival of Souls Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance.more
Rating: R
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: John Clifford, Herk Harvey
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 16, 2000
Herts-Lion International Corp.


Herk Harvey
as The Man
Frances Feist
as Landlady
Sidney Berger
as John Linden
Art Ellison
as Minister
Tom McGinnis
as Organ Factory Boss
Dan Palmquist
as Gas Station Attendan...
Steve Boozer
as Chip, Man at Juke Bo...
Pamela Ballard
as Dress Sales Lady
Larry Sneegas
as Drag Racer
Cari Conboy
as Lake Zombie
Karen Pyles
as Dress Store Customer
Forbes Caldwell
as Carpenter in Organ F...
T.C. Adams
as Dancing Zombie
Sharon Scoville
as Mary's Girlfriend
Mary Ann Harris
as Mary's Girlfriend
Peter Schnitzler
as A Walking Corpse
Bill Sollner
as Lake Zombie
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Carnival of Souls

Critic Reviews for Carnival of Souls

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (5)

Occasionally a feature film emerges from the midwest, although this is the first ever out of Lawrence, Kans, where a group of commercial film pros veered off into a try at producing theatrical entertainment.

Full Review… | September 21, 2007
Top Critic

There isn't very much here to sustain interest.

Full Review… | September 21, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The mesmerising power of the carnival and dance-hall sequences far outweighs the corniness of the awkward intimate scenes.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Carnival of Souls works well enough as chill-up-the-spine cinema.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

What is amazing about the film CARNIVAL OF SOULS is that the cheap budget works so much in its favor. There is little unreal to get between the actors and the viewer.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Mark Leeper's Reviews

There is a nightmare quality to its best scenes, but the film is essentially a great half-hour Twilight Zone padded out to feature length.

Full Review… | August 14, 2010

Audience Reviews for Carnival of Souls

A drive in the country past an delapidated amusement park proves to be more than simply moody and atmospheric for an young woman just starting out in life ... or is she? A heavy church organ music background proves to rattle even the strongest nerve in this justified cult classic.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

After a tragic car crash during a drag race, the sole survivor, a Kansas woman named Mary takes a job playing the organ at a church in Utah. On her journey ot Utah she begins experiencing ghostly visions and odd compulsions to visit an eeir abandoned carnival. Things get even weirder and more spooky from there, and her attempts to live a normal, quiet life seem all but impossible to do.

Released in the early 1960s, this is a low budget indie before that concept really became what it is today. It might a horror film with a bunch of no names and little funds, but it makes the msot of what it has, and the result is a surprisingly fun and creepy atmospheric chiller that has become quite successful in the nearly 50 years since its release.

The cinematogrpahy is surprisingly quite good, with the visuals being reminiscent of European arthouse fare as well as a bit of film noir. The acting is a bit stiff and wooden, and some of the makeup looks a bit cheesy in hindsight, but comared to a lot of stuff that came out after it did, these could have been far more terrible.

The key to this film's success is in its atmosphere, which is quite excellent, and really strengthened thanks in large part to the film's organ score which is really hypnotic, creepy, and mesmerizing. The film has a heavy Twilight Zone vibe to it, and the increasing moodiness and bizarreness of events make for a fun little horror yarn.

All in all, this is a strong effort given the circumstances, and I really liked it. I get the impression that I should love this, but even though as of now I merely just really, really enjoyed it, I think I could see myself eventually falling in love with it. If you want an entertaining and eerie film that helped set a certain standard for future similar films, then you need to give this one a watch.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

A film that creeps up on you and delivers. With breathtaking cinematography and direction, It's not just any regular old B-movie.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Carnival of Souls Quotes

Landlady: Take all the hot baths you want. I'm not one to fuss about a thing like that.
– Submitted by Steve P (4 years ago)
Mary Henry: To me a church is just a place of business.
– Submitted by Steve P (4 years ago)
Mary Henry: It's funny, the world is so different in the daylight. In the dark, your fantasies get so out of hand. But in the daylight everything falls back into place again.
– Submitted by Creep F (4 years ago)
John Linden: That's just what I need! Get mixed up with some girl who's off her rocker!
– Submitted by Creep F (4 years ago)

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