Like many fans of the horror genre, George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead left a big impression on me at a young age. It wouldn’t be till many years later that I would see Carnival of Souls, a film that would inspire NOTLD. I can say without hesitation that I consider Carnival of Souls a superior film to NOTLD, despite my nearly lifelong admiration for Romero’s film. Carnival of Souls is a short ride following a woman in a trance that is only recognized at the film’s conclusion.
Many films and filmmakers have borrowed a lot from Carnival of Souls. The most obvious being M. Night Shyamalan‘s "masterpiece" film The Sixth Sense, in which he borrowed a very large element from Carnival of Souls. Of course, Shyamalan’s been sued for plagiarism on more than one occasion. But then again, Carnival of Souls would be the film to steal from. Despite it’s cinematic quality, the film has yet to truly get that recognition that it deserves. Too good to be just a “B” horror film and too cult like to impress art fags, Carnival of Souls is a film that is in it’s own league.
Not since the days of German expressionism has a film been so atmospheric yet horrific. Carnival of Souls is a film that showed serious promise a revival in artistry in the horror film. It makes me wonder how an educational and industrial filmmaker like Herk Harvey could make a film like Carnival of Souls without any prior feature-length experience. It is a shame that Harvey would never make another horror film (or feature length film). Despite the low-budget quality of Carnival of Souls, it gets across as a serious film for serious horror fans.
Carnival of Souls follows a lonely woman who only finds company that she doesn’t really appreciate. A ghastly ghoul and his ball of dead dancers find Mary Henry. She never knows what this rotting dead man is trying to tell her till the end. Carnival of Souls is one of those films that you just have to experience as to articulate it’s power into words would be useless. I felt as if I was touched by something that no other film has ever done after viewing Carnival of Souls.