Carnival of Souls


Carnival of Souls (1962)


Critic Consensus: Carnival of Souls offers delightfully chilling proof that when it comes to telling an effective horror story, less can often be much, much more.


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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.

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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 Attendant
Steve Boozer
as Chip, Man at Juke Box
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 Factory
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
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Critic Reviews for Carnival of Souls

All Critics (34) | 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.

Sep 21, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

There isn't very much here to sustain interest.

Sep 21, 2007 | Full Review…

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

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

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

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

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

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

If characters in a horror movie are watching an old black and white movie on TV late at night, and it's not Night Of The Living Dead, it's almost certainly Carnival Of Souls.

Nov 1, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Carnival of Souls

I can see how this horror movie inspired many others that came after; in any case, despite a solid beginning, there isn't much here to compensate for the fact that it is so unexciting, predictable, poorly acted, unscary and manages to be very boring with only 78 minutes.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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
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
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

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