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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'' was a low-budget "B" film ($33,000 in 1962) that 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. George Romero stated that ''Carnival of Souls'' was the inspiration for ''Film/NightOfTheLivingDead1968''.

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 [[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: [[spoiler:One of Mary's visions is revealed to have been a dream near the end.]]
* TheBadGuyWins
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: [[spoiler:See ''Ineffectual Loner'' below.]]
* BigBad: The Man
* ButtMonkey: John
* CasanovaWannabe: John, again.
* CelibateHero
* 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. [[spoiler:Played for Horror later on in the main story]].
* DeadAllAlong
* TheDeadCanDance: [[spoiler: 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: [[spoiler: 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.]]
* TheEnd
* EvilAlbino
* FinallyFoundTheBody: [[spoiler:How TheReveal is made.]]
* TheGrimReaper: [[spoiler:What The Man seems to be]].
* HauntedHeroine
* HazardousWater
* IneffectualLoner: Mary [[spoiler:until she no longer wants to be alone. This entire movie could arguably be summed up as "being Mary sucks"]].
* InTheEndYouAreOnYourOwn
* {{Jerkass}}: John, who is sleazy, creepy, temperamental, and all-around unempathetic.
* LooksLikeCesare: The Man, to some extent.
* 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 [[spoiler: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 [[spoiler: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
* ParentalAbandonment: Inverted. Mary refuses to visit her folks after the accident.
* PerpetualSmiler: The Man
* ThePlace
* PreacherMan
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: John
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: [[invoked]] [[spoiler: 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
* 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
* SurrealHorror
* TomatoInTheMirror
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: The [[http://25.media.tumblr.com/778027c48b38e658e519b3a83a927143/tumblr_mkatgtLT7S1rl4lszo1_500.jpg original one-sheet for the movie]] gives away the ending [[spoiler: at the bottom, in the middle]].
* TsunDere: 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
* TwistEnding
* TheUndead
* TheXOfY

!!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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