(AMC+/Criterion/fubu/epix/HBO MAX/hoopla/kanopy/Paramount+/tubi/Vudu, anywhere really, although I watched The Directors Cut via my Criterion copy) One of the few films I discovered because of a video game — no, not CARNEVIL — I’d read about it influencing SILENT HILL.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS is a surprisingly singular vision from industrial film Herk Harvey, who only made this one film, but he made that swing count. A woman is the sole survivor of a three-person car crash, and goes about trying to move ahead in life, but can’t shake a gauzy hazy or the stare of a ghostly man.
It’s a surprisingly quiet film, despite the often oppressive organ soundtrack, and while it’s built upon a number of small moments, it culminates in an astounding final sequence. Art-house horror, full of tension and dread, well before such a thing widely existed.
One final note: I believe some song I’m quite familiar with sampled Mary’s meeting with a Dr. Samuels, as well as the exchange: “Now you quit licking your chops, she’s outta your class.” “You wanna bet?” If anyone knows who sampled them, let me know!