Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Movie Review: Carnival of Souls

Or: "Dancing With The Stars: Sixth Sense Edition"

Another moldy oldie early '60s horror film, though this one is much better than "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" (ironically, both films came out in the same year).

Mary Henry is the sole survivor of a fatal car crash. Dragging herself out of the river where her friends drowned, she immediately packs up her things and moves across the country, traumatized and desperate to start over. For a while, things seem to go her way: she finds a place to live, gets a job and meets a guy. But she's soon haunted by visions of a pale, decomposing man at every turn... and worse, there are moments when the world around her just stops seeing her.

"Carnival of Souls" is very atmospheric and moody, though probably not much of a horror film by contemporary standards. It seems to be reaching for psychodrama, and might would have succeeded except Mary's a bit two-dimensional. The movie also suffers from extreme padding - sometimes repeating a scene two or three times, with little variation. I get the feeling this was a common practice in those days, with this specific genre, simply for the sake of reaching minimum length quota with barebones plots. An above-average movie, if you can get over the frustration that inevitably results from watching Mary run down the same hall over and over again.