Carnival of Souls (1962)
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She Escaped Death. Now It Wants Her Back!
Carnival of Souls (1962) is a horror film starring Candace Hilligoss. A drag race turns to tragedy when one car, with three young women inside, topples over a bridge and into the muddy river below. The authorities drag the river, but the search is fruitless and the girls are presumed dead until a single survivor stumbles out of the water with no recollection of how she escaped. Mary Henry (Hilligoss) decides to forget her strange experience and carry on with her plan to move to Utah to accept a job as a church organist. She rejects the notion that because her profession leads her to work in the church, she is obligated to worship as part of the congregation, and this cold approach to her work unnerves many around her. While driving to the new city, she experiences weird visions of a ghoulish man who stares at her through the windshield, and passes an abandoned carnival on a desolate stretch of highway outside of town to which she feels strangely drawn. Soon the ghostly apparition from the highway is appearing more often, and she experiences eerie spells in which she becomes invisible to people on the street. A doctor tries to help, but he too is rejected, and eventually Mary realizes that the deserted carnival holds the secret to her destiny.
Produced and directed by Herk Harvey for an estimated $33,000, the movie never gained widespread public which has now become somewhat of a cult classic. Set to an organ score by Gene Moore, Carnival of Souls relies more on atmosphere than on special effects to create its mood of horror. The film has a large cult following and occasionally has screenings at local film and Halloween festivals.