Monday, November 3, 2014

A Retrospect on "Carnival of Souls"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Retrospect on “Carnival Souls”
By: Brian Cotnoir

    Very rarely on this blog do I find it difficult to voice my opinion.  I’m very good at telling people what movies I think suck, and occasionally I find it in me to tell people what movies I think are actually good, but then there are a few films that I’m not sure how I feel about them.  Films like the one I’m re-reviewing today.  Even though it had very little success or popularity upon its original release, the 1962 film “Carnival of Souls” has gone on to have a popular following among lovers of Classic Horror and B-Horror fans.  So let’s take one more look at “Carnival of Souls

My First Impression of the Film

The first time I saw “Carnival of Souls”, I remember thinking the film was very underwhelming.  I knew nothing about the film, but had a lot of people tell me that it was really great, so I was expecting it to be one of those “Best Horror Films You’ll Ever See” kind of deals. I did not care for any of the characters in the film; I found them to be very one-dimensional and unimpressive.  I thought the story was interesting at points, but really boring at other points, and I also found it to be quite confusing at points; this film just did not really win me over.  And while I didn’t enjoy it after the first time I saw it, I couldn’t bring myself to say I didn’t like it as well.

My Second Impression of the Film

She just found out her agent is dropping her as a client!
(No joke, that actually happened to her in real life)
I think the reason why I was so critical on a lot of things the first time I saw “Carnival of Souls” is because I didn’t have the right mindset when I watched it.  I wasn’t looking at it like it was a Classic B-Horror Movie: I was looking at it like it was a Modern Day Horror film.  So I was critiquing it on problems that weren’t actually there.  The characters weren’t as one-dimensional as I previously thought there were.  I found Mary to be a very complex and fascinating character instead of a stuck-up and antisocial.  She’s also more of a strong character then I gave her credit for.  Even the character Mr. Linden, who I cursed out as being “such a tool”, had more to him then I had previously realized.  Again, when I first saw this film I saw this film I viewed it like I would a Modern Horror film, so I viewed his character as old and outdated when in actuality he was written as a very accurate and appropriate character for the time the film was made and released. Yeah, a lot of the special effects in the film are cheesy, but none of them are terrible.  I can’t even bring myself to complain about the parts of the plot that make little to no sense because this was a low-budget film for the time it was made.  “Carnival of Souls” was made on an estimated budget of $30,000 in 1962.  In fact, the budget for the film was much smaller initially, but the film’s director Herk Harvey and the films screenwriter John Clifford waived their earnings in order to get more funding for the film.  Plus, the film crew only consisted of  people besides Harvey.  So anyone who was willing to work on this film for free in order to get it made is a great guy in my book.

What I would do to make the film better

Keep the Black & White, it looks gnarly!
I know “Carnival of Souls” was remade in 1998, but I unfortunately have not seen it yet.  So without the knowledge of how the remake was, I can tell you what I’d do anyways.  Basically, I would just throw in some more money into the budget so they can develop more on the plot of the film and have some better special effects.  I’d also update the dialogue so it doesn’t sound as pretentious and outdated.  However, I wouldn’t have them film it in color; I would keep it in black & white.  I feel like the black & white film adds to the creepiness and helps make the setting feel more eerie and nightmare like; sort of like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”.

My Final Opinion on the Film

     My final opinion on “Carnival of Souls” is I really dig it.  I think if you are a fan of Classic Horror you should definitely check it out.  I also think if you’re a fan of more modern forms of visual media like “The Devils Carnival” and “American Horror Story”, then you should also give this film a looksee.  It’s okay, if you don’t like it at first, like I did, this film is definitely an acquired tasted and requires at least 3-4 viewings before you can truly appreciate its beauty an mystique.

My Original Review of "Carnival of Souls"


  1. Well thought out and makes me want to give this one a look. Great work!

    1. You absolutely should, I think you would really enjoy this one.