• Heck Harvey directs Carnival of Souls– an early 1960s low budget horror film starring Candace Hilligoss as Mary Henry.
  • It is part Lynne Ramsay (a past trauma—a drag racing accident- leaves the protagonist an empty vessel drifting through life) meets Antonioni (alienation in modernity) as much as any horror film.
  • Clocks in at 77 minutes.
  • Shot (on 35 mm though- not 16mm) in parts of Kansas—and the Carnival itself is in Utah.

Eerie organ music from Gene Moore- and Mary is an organ player- certainly fitting.

Mary is haunted by the accident- but also by a ghoulish-looking man (though surrealism). Harvey has a few innovative shots using a mirror on the car window as a sort of natural dissolve.

  • Zoom camera technique to connect with the surrealism sequences—Mary’s sort of spiral out of reality continues- and the audio drops out.
  • The best sequences are at the abandoned carnival- but unfortunately it is 43-miuntes (very quiet cinematically up to this point in the film) before she arrives there. These sequences (at least a minute or two of them) have aspects that will remind you (though this predates both films) Red Desert (1964) and The Shining (1980). Mary heads back to Caronbdale and the strange dance hall.
  • She walks to overlook the lake at the 72-minute mark (above)—and that may be the best composition in the film.
  • A sort of twist M. Night Shyamalan ending.
  • The film is famous for inspiring George Romero to make Night of the Living Dead.
  • Harvey’s main job was making industrial films in Kansas
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1962