Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Review – Carnival of Souls

This odd little picture from 1962 should serve as at least some inspiration for indy film-makers everywhere. Herk Harvey manages to make a not-too-bad movie with minimal resources, something that was a lot harder to do in the early 60s than it is now. Sure, the picture has rough spots. The script is weak. The acting is strictly amateur hour. Even the dimmest audience member must surely see the final turn of the screw coming almost from the beginning of the picture. But some of the defects add to the impact. For example, Candace Hilligoss (as Mary, our protagonist) looks so much like a 60s-era department story mannequin that it’s actually a little surprising every time she talks. In some roles that would be off-putting to say the least. But here it adds to the general sense of disorientation that the director is trying to convey. An abandoned amusement park in Salt Lake City serves as the location for a lot of the key action, and the weirdness of these visuals is almost enough to make the whole movie worthwhile all by itself. I should also admit that I like this picture at least in part because some scenes were shot in Lawrence, Kan., a town where I lived for several years. Thus I got a kick out of the whole “so that’s what that looked like back in ‘62” thing, an experience other audience members might not share. Still, overall this is a solid piece of work considering the era and the budget. Mildly amusing

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