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Video Game: Carn Evil
The greatest show unearthed!

"When the moon is full and trees are bare.
Walk though the cemetery if you dare.
Where skeletons rot and corpses fester.
Locate the tomb with the skull of a jester.
Feed him a token all shiny and new.
It is then that CarnEvil will return for YOU!"
The game's opening narration.

A horror-themed light gun game from Midway Games, CarnEvil is about... well, an evil carnival, which is set somewhere in Iowa (if you can believe the opening cutscene). The game starts off with a hayride/ghost tour making its way through a cemetery at night. One of the patrons, called Jacob in the manual, hops off the ride and locates the grave of Professor Ludwig Von Tökkentäkker, which seems normal enough... save for the evil-looking jester statue on it and a token sticking out of a slot on the tombstone. Curious, Jacob takes the token and puts it in the jester's mouth, where it promptly comes alive and nearly chomps his hand off. Next thing Jacob knows, a carnival indeed comes out of the ground and traps him and presumably his tour inside of it with all manner of nasty and bizarre monsters. Luckily, he stumbles across the shooting gallery, which has real shotguns; Jacob and his friend Lisa grab them, and with their helpless friend Betty tagging along, prepare to blast their way out... or die trying.

Released in 1998, CarnEvil is considered one of Midway's best arcade games note , giving House of the Dead some competition (both games came out the same year). But what people remember the most about the game is its rather surreal and dark humor, as well as its highly disturbing premise. Definitely not one for the kiddies.


The game provides the following tropes:

  • Adjustable Censorship: The game has four levels of violence.
    • Full Gore: The default.
    • Red Blood: Prevents you from dismembering enemies, consequently censoring Tokkentaker's death as well.
    • Green Blood: Turns blood green, but it also censors Evil Marie's death, (she starts to fall, then it cuts to the results).
    • None: Turns blood into smoke, also removes the flamethrower and acid bath weapons.
    • Two unrelated options allow you to replace Junior with Deaddy and/or prevent the Food Court enemies from making vulgar gestures.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Natch.
  • An Axe to Grind: Evil Marie's weapon of choice.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Both Evil Marie, and Professor Ludwig Von Tökkentäkker (of the "would be a Nazi Nobleman, except he predates the Nazis" variety)
  • Arm Cannon: Hambone, the midboss of the Haunted House level, has a minigun attached to his arm.
    • He shows up twice during this level, swapping the minigun for a skull launcher on his second appearance.
    • And Tökkentäkker plans to put your brain in the body of gorilla that also has a minigun for an arm.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: As the demo screen plainly says, enemies die quicker from head wounds than other types. (This doesn't work on those who actually have life bars.)
  • Bad Santa: Krampus, the boss of Rickety Town.
  • Black Comedy: Most prevalent in the Rickety Town level, but pretty much everywhere.
    • In the food court area of Rickety Town, you can dunk one of the Skeleteens into a deep fryer.
    • Also in the food court: a sign reading "Burritos as big as your head!" - the implication being that they may actually contain severed heads.
    • At the bumper cars: an ad for "RIP" gasoline, patterned after the STP logo, and a "Who Wants an Eyescream Soda?" billboard that depicts a soda topped with an eyeball.
  • Blatant Lies: The arcade cabinet will assure you that "That isn't a zombie/it's just a silly clown".
  • Big Bad: Tökkentäkker.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Various giant insects and worms feature as enemies. The "Museum of the Slightly Curious" in the Freak Show also features and "80 lb. Flea" as an exhibit.
  • Body Horror: Up to Splatterhouse levels in the Freak Show, but you really should've guessed that.
  • Boss Banter: Krampus, Eyeclops, Umlaut, and Tokkentaker.
  • Buried Alive: The ghouls in the Haunted House stage try to do this to the player(s) right before Evil Marie shows up, but they manage to climb out of the grave before the boss fight starts.
  • Captain Ersatz: Hambone, an enemy you fight twice in the Haunted House, looks an awful lot like another notorious serial killer with a hockey mask...
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Uh, the place is called "Carn Evil", so pretty much all of them. In fact, Evil Marie seem pretty proud to have that name when she introduces herself.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The spider monkeys you let loose about halfway through the Freak Show level come back later.
  • Circus of Fear: The final level.
  • Clothing Damage: Evil Marie (the boss of the Haunted House level) loses clothing as you continue to damage her until she's down to nothing but her underwear.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: The enemies in the second half of the Freak Show level
  • Cool Airship / Zeppelins from Another World: The Final Boss battle with Tökkentäkker takes place on top of a dirigible.
  • Cowardly Boss: Tökkentäkker periodically teleports away in a puff of smoke, causing your character(s) to chase after him to a new part of his Cool Airship.
  • Day Old Legend: The Trope seems backwards. Despite the fact that the players have been drawn to the grave by an old legend about an evil carnival, a lot of it seems to have been based on very modern carnivals, including things like a tilt-o-whirl and a Food Court.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons appear, of course. The ones working in the Rickety Town food court even bleed.
  • The Dead Have Eyes
  • Distressed Damsel: Betty, Jacob and Lisa's friend, who you have to avoid shooting. Most of the time, the monsters are chasing her, and a few scenes suggest they caught her for the moment (showing her in a cage or in stocks), and a few bizarre scenes show her in the next car on the same carnival ride you're on, barely scared at all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Evil Marie screams quite, er... "suggestively"... when she's IMPALED on a tombstone.
  • The Dragon: Umlaut to Tökkentäkker.
  • Enemy Mime: Zombie mimes show up in the Big Top level. They're harmless, except for possibly wasting your bullets.
  • Enfante Terrible: Boss of the Freak Show level. The developers, considering that (even by this game's standards) some arcade owners would find this too disturbing, have an option to replace him with a teddy bear.
  • Excuse Plot: Well, a teenager is curious about this old story so he goes to the cemetery - dragging his girlfriend along - and then conjures this place up because he's curious. That's the whole excuse for him to beat the hell out of zombies. (In fact, bringing his girlfriend is just an excuse for her to appear from time to time for something to avoid hitting.)
  • Exposition Fairy: Umlaut at the start of every stage, giving the player a cute little poem about what they're in for. He's also the second-to-last boss.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Eyeclops, in addition to having a single eye on each of his two heads, has five more in his chest and arms.
  • Fake Difficulty: On occasion, enemies can hurt you even if they aren't onscreen, making it look like you're taking damage from nowhere.
    • Pixel Hunt: When you encounter a swarm of bats in the Haunted House stage, only one will actually attack you, but figuring out which one is nearly impossible. The same applies to Junior/Deaddy's barf attack.
    • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Some enemies land a hit on you seconds after they appear.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Evil Marie has some rather long pointy teeth.
  • Foreshadowing: In the Haunted House level, when the player goes inside, you can see a portrait of a young girl holding an axe covered with blood. Take a guess who is at the end of the level.


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alternative title(s): Carn Evil
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