Still a staple of Halloween movie marathons, Carnival of Souls was released on this day in 1962. The surreal nightmare directed by Herk Harvey (who appears in the film as a wandering ghoul) would go on to influence the likes of David Lynch and George A. Romero.
If it’s been a while, or if you’ve never seen Carnival of Souls for yourself, give the trailer and synopsis a look-see below.
Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) ends up the sole survivor of a fatal car accident through mysterious circumstances. Trying to put the incident behind her, she moves to Utah and takes a job as a church organist. But her fresh start is interrupted by visions of a fiendish man (Herk Harvey). As the visions begin to occur more frequently, Mary finds herself drawn to the deserted carnival on the outskirts of town. The strangely alluring carnival may hold the secret to her tragic past.
According to director Herk Harvey, one reel of footage for the film was ruined during processing. He said it was a long series of shots that was supposed to take place just before Mary sees the “souls” dancing in the ballroom. In the shots the ghouls were supposed to slowly appear from behind the rotting dock pylons on the salt flats and slowly walk across the prairie to the ballroom, where they would begin to dance. Sadly, the footage was overexposed during processing and couldn’t be included in the film. (Source)
Portions of the movie are tinted in a manner similar to silent films. Whenever Mary is in one of her altered mental states, the picture has a faint cyan tint, while all the “real” scenes are in pure black-and-white. Later in the film, the tinted segments also have distorted sound and picture. (Source)