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FloydDBarber

Carnival of Souls

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I don't know what happened while I was watching this film but I found it extremely unsettling.

Something strange happened though, I found myself falling for Candace Hilligoss a few minutes into the film.

 She sort of reminded me of Ruta Lee, who was recently on a Perry Mason episode. 

These independent films seem very real to me. Then I realized that the actress would be in her 80's today. There was so much realism that you can overlook the mediocre acting. Even though it was dated, in a way it could have been filmed last week.

I knew an independent director here in Maryland back in the 70's. 

Maybe the fact that the dialog was delivered in a natural way without any flourish gave the film a real look. I was only 11 when it was made and it was a real treat to see the old cars and the abandoned Carnival. 

The creepy organ music added to the uneasy feeling. 

 

 

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A Low Budget Masterpiece.

I've seen Carnival Of Souls numerous times over the years. It's one of my favorite films.

It came out during what I now recognize was the Transitional Noir period. Back then I suspect not too many people had even knew of Film Noir, and even less heard of it. Classic Film Noir was cut loose from it's shackles with the demise of the Motion Picture Production Code, producers and  directors were free to exploit that freedom. Noirs went beyond simple crime stories and began to delve into areas that explored the dark side of the mind and human relationships, sex, fantasy, science fiction, madness, horror. The films that kept the visual components of Film Noir, it's basic DNA, so to speak are the Transitional Noirs.

Supernatural and fantasy based Noir have been around since the beginning. During the Classic Film Noir Era films like Alias Nick Beal (1949), Repeat Performance (1947), The Amazing Mr. X (1948), Fear in the Night (1947), The Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Nightmare (1956), covered roughly the same territory, there are probably a few more. You can possibly even include It's a Wonderful Life (1946) for the Noir-ish sequence "Potterville" and Val Lewton's The Seventh Victim (1943). David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997) practically covers the same type of territory but without the Judeo-Christian iconography.

Television in the 1950s was seriously syphoning off the crime based stories (along with familiar "B" unit actors) from Hollywood and a lot of the shows they produced were quite Noir-ish, Naked City, Mike Hammer, Johnny Staccato, Peter Gunn, etc., etc.. Television also, like film, was keeping the stylistic Noir components but bending and twisting it in new ways. It "tuned" noir but it wasn't necessarily always about crime, Alfred Hitchcock Presents was one the original Noir-ish anthology series, others were Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond.  

Carnival Of Souls I saw as a kid. I was probably about 12 or 13 years old. It was on late night TV, one of New York City's local channels, WNEW, WPIX, WOR, which I couldn't tell you, probably in the mid 60's. It "tuned." It was one of those films that can really creep you out and I've never forgot it.  It fit right in with The Twilight Zone. If you are a Aficionoirdo or a Noirista and a first time watcher and have no idea what it's about at first it may also "tune" Noir for you.

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On 1/31/2019 at 12:43 AM, FloydDBarber said:

Something strange happened though, I found myself falling for Candace Hilligoss a few minutes into the film.

 She sort of reminded me of Ruta Lee, who was recently on a Perry Mason episode. 

These independent films seem very real to me. Then I realized that the actress would be in her 80's today.

I met her at an autograph signing about 20 years ago, and she looked lovely, nearly the same as she did in the film. When I told her that, she giggled almost like a school girl and said "Why thank you Jim!" She was very nice, signed my picture "Hauntingly yours, Candace Hilligoss"

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6 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I met her at an autograph signing about 20 years ago, and she looked lovely, nearly the same as she did in the film. When I told her that, she giggled almost like a school girl and said "Why thank you Jim!" She was very nice, signed my picture "Hauntingly yours, Candace Hilligoss"

Cool.

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Well, I certainly got a jolt last night from watching this picture.  The otherworldly organ score certainly ratchets up the scare factor.  And that hallucinatory montage of protagonist Mary (a luminous Candace Hilligoss) playing the organ at church, possessed of something that makes her lose control of the notes, so she’s playing a music straight out of hell, while she has visions of the ghosts doing that macabre dance - it was downright brilliant. The message is that death is a cruel master, not to be cheated.  Much praise goes to director Herk Harvey, composer Gene Moore, and DP Maurice Prather, and the make-up and effects people for conjuring up this masterful horror classic. The supporting cast, with their low-key, naturalistic acting, were also quite good.

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I saw it as a kid back in the mid 1960s on WPIX's chiller theatre. it's the phasing out sequences which make it an eerie masterpiece.

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