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The Carnival of Souls Day Thread (May 12, 2021)

Industrial and commercial film director Herk Harvey has 1 feature film to his name: Carnival of Souls. With a script written by John Clifford in 3 weeks, Harvey’s crew was all of 5 people (or 6, depending upon which story you believe) and his scrounged-up budget a reputed $33,000. What they created was a masterpiece of American horror.

A young woman ( a startling Candace Hilligoss in her debut cinematic role) in a small Kansas town survives a drag race accident, then agrees to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she is haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her toward an abandoned lakeside pavilion. That was the Saltair Pavilion, a rusting, decrepit husk in 1962, the second of three to occupy the same location on the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

Carnival of Souls may have a fairly standard, if somewhat dream-like narrative, which serves primarily to build towards the inexorable visit to the forbidden pavilion and the “bunch of ghouls dancing in the ballroom” – the only scene Harvey told Clifford had to be in the film. What elevates this film above say, a classic Twilight Zone episode, id the stark, crisp cinematography; the framing, the lighting, it;s all razor-sharp, the product of a director with a finely tuned sense of what works and what doesn’t. He knew how to get to the point. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

I hope you all have a great day!