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Film: Carnival of Souls
"What happened to the others? How did she escape? She doesn't know. Indeed, she doesn't care. She's a brittle, cynical woman who works as a church organist but doesn't take religion seriously. That's despite the fact that the organ seems to be trying to tell her something. There is a sensational overhead shot in an organ factory, looking down past the steep and angled pipes to her diminutive figure far below, and another effective moment when she's in a car on a deserted highway and the radio only picks up organ music."

Carnival of Souls was a low-budget "B" film ($33,000 in 1962) that did mediocre business on release, but has become enough of a Cult Classic to merit a DVD release by The Criterion Collection. In fact, some people consider it to be the best "B" movie ever made. George Romero stated that Carnival of Souls was the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead.

The plot is hard to summarize without spoilers, but its essence is a young woman who perceives, with gradually increasing frequency, images of a horrid, deformed stranger (as, for example, a temporary appearance in a mirror). The screw tightens until, at the climax, we find out who The Man is and why she has been receiving these visitations.

The movie is a case of an obscenely high-number of routine, standard tropes that more or less accidentally happen to work to a whole greater than the sum of the parts (or of the makers' designs and—arguably—capabilities).

Along with a handful of other films, it also has the distinction of being riffed twice by Mike Nelson: First on the colorized DVD released by Legend Films, the second time with help from Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett on RiffTrax.

In 1998, a Wes Craven-produced remake was released, which received mixed, mostly-negative reviews. While it, too, is available on DVD, it's a pretty safe bet that it won't ever get a Criterion release.

The Original Contains Examples of:

Tropes Present In the Remake That Were Not In The Original:


The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariPublic Domain Feature FilmsD.O.A.
The CarHorror FilmsCarnosaur
CandymanGhost FictionCarved
La Cage aux follesCreator/The Criterion CollectionCarrie
Captain CleggFilms of the 1960sCleo from 5 to 7

alternative title(s): Carnival Of Souls
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