10/25/17 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE PICK #25 – Carnival of Souls (1962).

Here’s a classic horror film that is required viewing for anyone that loves classic B&W spookers, but ABSOLUTE required viewing for any of my hometown Utah peeps. Why, you may ask? Well, maybe because this classic was filmed in Utah! Not only is it cool to see Salt Lake City in the early 60’s, but the titled “Carnival” is none other than Saltair! That place is a Utah landmark. This movie was like walking back in time for me. Carnival of Souls is about a woman who was the sole survivor of a car accident trying to move on with her life. She gets a job in Salt Lake City as a church organist (apt for the city) and moves there. It’s not long until she’s haunted by a creepy phantom who appears to reside at an abandoned Carnival. Thus begins her slow decline into unease and madness. Oh man, Carnival of Souls has such a cool, creepy sensibility to it. Its use of atmosphere, music, and sharp angles reminds me both of the Universal classics, and definitely of German Expressionism. You will see some Nosferatu in here I guarantee it. It’s one of those classic films that you really feel yourself drawn into regardless of the time difference. The organ soundtrack will bore into your psyche. Yes, there are a few outdated touches. Her male neighbor that will not take no for an answer is super creepy and has a real rapey vibe, and in the 60’s for some reason this was played off as “charming.” Yeah, it will definitely make you cringe occasionally, but as with any older film, you have to watch it in context of the time. To me, I loved the 60’s sensibility here. Candace is a strong-willed female character trying to figure out and take control of her life, but the constant haunting of this phantom keeps her from attaining anything. There are some nice spooky touches throughout. The scenes at the abandoned amusement facility of Saltair are absolutely incredible, especially the dance sequences. Saltair sits on the edge of the Great Salt Lake and was once the pinnacle of amusement. But once the waters receded and the brine shrimp smell took over it fell abandoned. I grew up going to a million concerts there after they redid it so I have numerous memories of that place. Anyway, Carnival of Souls is a definite classic that for some reason is usually forgotten in the annals of horror. I’m here to try and give it its due. From the first moment of the creepy askew credit sequence to the shocking-for-its-time ending, you’re truly in for something a little… different. Utah people enjoy the nostalgia. The rest of you, enjoy a true horror classic.


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