Carnival of Souls (5 stars)

Carnival of Souls

(15) 79min (Network DVD)


Herk Harvey’s 1962 slice of low-budget horror has become a touchstone of today’s horror cinema, foreshadowing genre classics like George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. After surviving a violent automobile accident, church organist Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) attempts to create a new life in a backwater town, but finds herself haunted by a mysterious stranger (played by Harvey himself) and drawn to an abandoned amusement park. While Harvey’s only feature has been freely available on the internet for years, it’s well deserving of a proper DVD release, with a crude, scratchy, but undeniably disconcerting sense of alienation that David Lynch would later make his trademark. And even if the much-imitated shock ending is easily guessable, it’s the off-kilter atmosphere (powered by Gene Moore’s remarkable organ score) conjured up by Harvey that makes Carnival of Souls an essential purchase for anyone who enjoys being creeped out. Minimal extras.