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Carnival of Souls (1962)

tomatometer

80

Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

74

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 9,019

My Rating

Movie Info

A drag race turns to tragedy when one car, with three young women inside, topples over a bridge and into the muddy river below. The authorities drag the river, but the search is fruitless and the girls are presumed dead until a single survivor stumbles out of the water with no recollection of how she escaped. Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) decides to forget her strange experience and carry on with her plan to move to Utah to accept a job as a church organist. She rejects the notion that because

R,

Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics, Comedy

John Clifford, Herk Harvey

May 16, 2000

Herts-Lion International Corp.

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (5) | DVD (23)

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.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There isn't very much here to sustain interest.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It depends on crisp black-and-white photography, atmosphere and surprisingly effective acting.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Mark Leeper's Reviews
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.

August 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinefantastique
Cinefantastique

Harvey leaves enough questions unanswered in this twilight zone to ensure that Carnival Of Souls enjoys a haunting afterlife in the viewer's mind.

March 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

A haunting ghost story.

October 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This is one of the most original and unsettling horror movies to come out of America during its B-movie saturated, drive-in friendly period.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

It retains an atmosphere of melancholic, surreal dread.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A chilling ghost story with artistic pretensions.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The film's subdued black and white photography contributes considerably to its poetic deathly palate of physical and emotional coldness.

June 1, 2007 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

For a flick with a non-existent budget (well, $30,000) and relative amateurs in front of the camera, everybody's lines are practically howler-free.

June 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Com seu roteiro óbvio e as péssimas atuações, é incrivelmente inferior às numerosas produções que supostamente inspirou.

January 9, 2005
Cinema em Cena

Much overrated horror, not even minor classic in this corner

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

An influential little horror gem

July 16, 2004
Lawrence Journal-World

A genuinely creepy thriller, humble in scope and lacking some polish, but executed with ghoulish intuition.

May 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

All atmosphere and very little else.

April 24, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A cult classic that would have subtle yet meaningful influences on the horror genre for decades to come.

March 19, 2003 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

The visuals of this film make it worth watching.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

demonstrates that the quality of scary filmmaking is not directly proportional to the size of the budget

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

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.
July 2, 2012
ApeneckFletcher

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.
December 27, 2011
cosmo313
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.
October 30, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

At times it feels like a Twilight Zone episode, wooden acting and everything, but when Carnival of Souls gets the mood right it never lets you go. Yes, mood, there was a time when movies had a sense of atmosphere, of building tension. All this with the right direction, the right selection of music, performances, not CGI and loud soundtracks.

Carnival of Souls works around it's budget and supporting cast issues by creating great moments, using wisely it's very obvious influences from german expresionism. Candice Hilligoss carries around the movie in a solid performance, and the director himself will keep creeping the crap out of you. People grown with thrillers/"horror" movies of the last decade will just try to keep guessing the ending. As for the rest of us, the journey of the movie will be the real joy here.
August 26, 2011
DragonEyeMorrison
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

    1. Landlady: Take all the hot baths you want. I'm not one to fuss about a thing like that.
    – Submitted by Steve P (2 years ago)
    1. Mary Henry: To me a church is just a place of business.
    – Submitted by Steve P (2 years ago)
    1. 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 (3 years ago)
    1. John Linden: That's just what I need! Get mixed up with some girl who's off her rocker!
    – Submitted by Creep F (3 years ago)
    1. Landlady: You just let your imagination run away with you.
    – Submitted by Creep F (3 years ago)
    1. John Linden: You're gonna need me in the evening; you just don't know it yet.
    – Submitted by Creep F (3 years ago)
View all quotes (13)

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Foreign Titles

  • Carnival of Souls (UK)
  • Carnival of Souls (1962) (CA)
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