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[[quoteright:315:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Carnival_of_Souls_3297.jpg]]

->"''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.''"
-->--'''Creator/RogerEbert'''[='s=] [[http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19891027/REVIEWS/910270302/1023 review]].

''Carnival of Souls'' is a low-budget ($33,000 in 1962) "B" horror film produced, directed, and co-written by Herk Harvey which did mediocre business on release, but has become enough of a CultClassic to merit a [=DVD=] release by Creator/TheCriterionCollection. In fact, some people consider it to be the best "B" movie ever made. Creator/GeorgeARomero stated that ''Carnival of Souls'' was the inspiration for ''Film/{{Night of the Living Dead|1968}}''.

A young lady named Mary is riding in a car with her girlfriends when another car pulls up and challenges them to a drag race. Mary's friend unwisely accepts, and the two cars zoom off on a high-speed race, which ends when Mary's car plunges off of a bridge and into a river.

Police and first responders are dragging the river in search of the car when a dazed Mary staggers onto dry land. After she recovers she leaves town, having been hired to play the organ at a church in Utah. All is not well, however, as Mary starts to have terrifying visions of a ghoulish, undead man stalking her. When she isn't having these horrifying visions, she is experiencing other terrifying interludes when, for no apparent reason, no one can see or hear her. And then there's the creepy abandoned old amusement park, which Mary inexplicably finds herself drawn to...

One of only a few films to be riffed ''twice'' by [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Mike Nelson]]: First on the colorized [=DVD=] released by Legend Films, the second time with help from Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett on Podcast/RiffTrax.

In 1998, a Creator/WesCraven-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.

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!!The Original Contains Examples of:

* AloneInACrowd: Mary feels this usually, but especially when she has the visions.
* AmusementParkOfDoom: The abandoned Saltair park.
* BadDreams: One of Mary's visions is revealed to have been a dream near the end.
* TheBadGuyWins: The Man, and all the other ghouls, apparently drag Mary back to the afterlife.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: See ''Ineffectual Loner'' below.
* BigBad: The Man
* ButtMonkey: John, with his pathetic and desperate attempts to get into Mary's pants.
* CasanovaWannabe: John, again.
* CelibateHero: Mary doesn't much like to be around people. She rejects John's advances--although that may be be because John's such a creep.
* ChaseScene: Occurs during the cold open.
* ColdOpen: Opens with a guy asking Mary's friend for a race.
* CreatorCameo: The main ghoul, The Man, is Herk Harvey.
* DancesAndBalls: Part of the Carnival's backstory. Played for Horror later on in the main story.
* DeadAllAlong: Mary drowned in the car crash, and the rest of the story unfolds with her as a ghost, instinctually resisting the trip to the underworld.
* TheDeadCanDance: Mary spies a ''danse macabre'' in the carnival tent.
* DeadpanSnarker: Mary when she has coffee with John. This part honestly plays more like a period sit-com than a horror movie.
* DefrostingIceQueen
* DownerEnding: Mary is chased down and swarmed by the Man's ghosts. The next morning, the other main characters manage to dredge up the car she crashed in with her body still inside.
* FinallyFoundTheBody: How TheReveal is made.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: There's a clue early in the movie. One of the searchers at the river says that the car has been in the river for three hours. Shortly after this, Mary is staggering up on the riverbank. Where has she been all that time?
* TheGrimReaper: What The Man seems to be.
* HauntedHeroine: Mary, once a calm and self-possessed woman, grows steadily more unglued as The Man stalks her every movement.
* HazardousWater: Mary's friend has an accident while they are driving, with the car veering off a bridge and into a river.
* HotAndCold: John sees Mary as this. First she acts cold and doesn't want to see him, then flirts with him when he brings her coffee, before turning down a date and then agreeing soon after. She acts bored on his date before telling him she wants to be with him that night before finally acting disinterested. He's understandably confused
* IneffectualLoner: Mary until she no longer wants to be alone. This entire movie could arguably be summed up as "being Mary sucks".
* InTheEndYouAreOnYourOwn: Finally Mary has to go to the pavilion and face the ghouls by herself.
* {{Jerkass}}: John, who is sleazy, creepy, temperamental, and all-around unempathetic.
* JumpCut: There's a jump cut from Mary trying to get through a locked gate at the bus station to Mary outside, walking down a sidewalk. This just underlines the unreality of her situation.
* KubrickStare: The Man gives a positively chilling one when he emerges from under the water of the amusement park pool.
* LooksLikeCesare: The Man, to some extent, with his pale skin and dark-circled eyes. Later we see a bus full of ghouls, and a ''danse macabre'' at the pavilion, with all the ghouls having that same Cesare look.
* MatchCut: From Mary turning the ignition on her car to Mary pushing a button on her pipe organ.
* MirrorMonster: A especially creepy scene has The Man appear in her mirror and lay his head on her shoulder.
* {{Motifs}}: Water is either present or referenced to in a lot of the scary stuff which makes sense given the opening and the TwistEnding. It's inconsistent though as some of The Man's apperances have nothing to do with water.
** The soundtrack is mostly pipe organs, which is what Mary's job is - church organ player.
* MrExposition: Several examples.
* NoNameGiven: The Man
* OhCrap: An oddly-delayed version of this occurs during the second visit to the psychologist.
* OminousPipeOrgan: If you love this sort of thing, ''Carnival of Souls'' will be your dream movie; if you hate it, steer clear.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: Mary's a ghost. Sometimes she is corporeal and can interact with the living world, but sometimes she seems to pass into some sort of ghost dimension where no one can see or hear her (and she can't hear them).
* ParentalAbandonment: Inverted. Mary refuses to visit her folks after the accident.
* PerpetualSmiler: The Man
* PreacherMan
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: John bails when Mary's screams of terror in her room freak him out.
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: [[invoked]] Modern audiences will ''immediately'' realize Mary is in a DyingDream or DeadAllAlong when she stumbles out of the car wreck - never mind that this was one of ''the very first'' movies to employ this trick.
* SilentAntagonist: The Man never speaks, only smiling evilly.
* SlasherSmile: The Man is almost always like this, but the other Undead only break into a smile near the end.
* StalkerWithACrush: John, as well as a possible way to interpret The Man.
* SugarAndIcePersonality: Mary is oddly inconsistent in her behavior towards John. She blows him off when he first tries to talk his way into her bed, which makes sense enough as he is a creep. But the next morning she is friendly and flirty when he comes over with coffee.
* SurrealHorror: A young woman plagued with a series of terrifying visions of a ghoul stalking her.
* TomatoInTheMirror: Mary turns out to be a ghost.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: The [[http://25.media.tumblr.com/778027c48b38e658e519b3a83a927143/tumblr_mkatgtLT7S1rl4lszo1_500.jpg original one-sheet for the movie]] gives away the ending at the bottom, in the middle.
* TwistEnding: Mary actually drowned in the car wreck, and she's been DeadAllAlong.
* TheUndead: Eventually a whole host of undead ghouls are chasing Mary.
* TheXOfY: ''Carnival of Souls''

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

* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:More-or-less the same ending as the original, but with a more uplifting and heroic twist. Alex is revealed to have died in the opening, but, in doing so, had managed to defeat the BigBad, thus ensuring her little sister's survival.]]
%%* BlackBugRoom
%%* DarkAndTroubledPast
%%* DisappearedDad
%%* DyingDream
* HeroicSacrifice: The reason Alex's car crashed in the beginning is that she was trying to pull off one of these, [[spoiler:in the end, it turned out she succeeded]].
%%* MamaBear: Alex toward Sandra.
%%* MissingMom
%%* MonsterClown
%%* PantyShot
%%* {{Revenge}}: Louis's motive.
* TakingYouWithMe: In the opening, Alex deliberately steers her car off the road so that the paedophile who is holding her hostage won't be able to kill her sister. She ends up surviving [[spoiler:until the end, where it turns out that everything after the crash was just a dying dream]].
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