Tuesday, July 18, 2017

B&W Horror: Carnival of Souls

Hey folks. Well it was bound to happen that eventually if it is in your movie collection long enough, I am going to make fun of it. I mean review it. Somehow today's B&W film may have been deemed spine-tingling horror to the 1962 audience but when you think how many exploitation flicks were being made, probably not. Because when I think pants wetting terror I automatically think the name Herk Harvey (Operation Grass Killer, Your Junior High Days, Dance, Little Children, Why Study Science?, Why Study Industrial Arts?). Shuddering stuff those PSA films. Hell I openly riffed Your Junior High Days via Rotten Riffs. Bone chilling notions.

Howabout the story of an organ player making her way to the splendor of Utah after a near tragic car crash? Intrigued yet? Don't worry. You won't be...ever. This is Carnival of Souls.

Ma'am, can I interest you in a copy of the Watch Tower?

For all the mockery this movie has received...well here's some more. Young Mary (Candace Hilligoss of Carnival of Souls, The Curse of the Living Corpse, Naked City, South of Hell Mountain and Quincy M.E.) endures a painstakingly long ass drive to Utah. SERIOUSLY! It was almost 8 to 15 minutes this drive for footage. With the exception of the occasional mutant hell beast from the Never Never trying to bum rides in her car, it was damn squirrelly.

We finally get to her boarding house where Mrs. Thomas (Frances Feist of A Life to Save, The Show-Off, George Tackles the Land, Speech: Using Your Voice and Carnival of Souls) proceed to talk her ear off about sandwich makings, how to run the bath tub, the plumbing, the heating, maybe how to bathe herself and possibly her bed turn down offers. Yeah she yammers for quite a bit. Worry not ladies. The screen sizzles with this hunk of beef just down the hall from Mary as main man John (Sidney Berger of Carnival of Souls and Carnival of Souls 1998) with his shifty nature and makes leering stares and slathering expressions. I don't think he was actually acting as so much as Herk just hired him to make lewd gestures and scratch himself in true construction worker fashion.

Resident sex offender reporting for duty!

The minister (Art Ellison of A Life to Save, The Perfect Crime, Carnival of Souls, Paper Moon, Shoot it Black, Shoot it Blue, and Mary White) has of course introduced Mary to his organ.. The church organ! Apologies. More pasty white soundless men appear around Mary and normally I would be concerned but it is Utah and the populous is really made up of some of the whitest people you will encounter. She is also clearly a student of Leonard Nimoy as she manages an inquisitive eye brow raising all the while looking befuddled.

The film gives you the overall vibe that Mary is alone, isolated and lacking any form of human interaction aside from pleasantries and greetings. With soggy chalk white specters as her only source of male interest you do get the idea perhaps Mary was never meant to survive her car crash.

Which one of us farted?

Great gobs of organ music to make a bizarre standing. 82 minutes of this story dragging on and on.
Perhaps the radio stations in Utah are nothing but organ enthusiasts.

Will the organ bring her solace? Will creepy opaque ghouls haunt her? Did she spy on her landlady's lemon drink?

This by the way is the only time I have ever heard a Foley flub. Her footsteps do not match up with her running in one scene and I just started laughing. Line and dubbing flubs I have seen and heard before but foot flub? That's new. Quick shout out to Mom. Yes landlady's term sandwich makings sounded dumber than my term sandwich fixings.

With a modest budget of maybe $10,000 but of course IMDB estimates it at $30,000 this low budget film was attempting more of an Outer Limits/Twilight Zone/Night Gallery vision without being nearly as eerie and clever. The cinematography does capture a lot of the dark atmosphere but again so much padding takes away from it. Best to watch this as it was meant to be. With Rifftrax's Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett mocking it as veteran riffers.