Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62 Films perfect for watching on a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot includes Herk Harvey‘s 1962 film, Carnival of Souls, and James Wan‘s 2010 spookshow, Insidious.
In Herk Harvey‘s 1962 film Carnival of Souls, Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) moves to Utah to accept a job as a church organist. While her profession leads her to work in the church, Mary doesn’t feel obligated to worship as part of the congregation, which unnerves many around her.
On the way to her new city, Mary passes an abandonded carnival on a desolate stretch of highway, a mysterious, powerful place that beckons her. Complicating matters, Mary is haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her to the abandoned lakeside pavilion. Soon the ghoulish man (played by Harvey) begins to appear frequently, and Mary undergoes unexplainable moments in which she becomes invisible to the people around her.
That Creepy Scene:
The Man has been joined by a parade of other ghouls. Mary tries desperately to escape the carnival, boarding a bus to leave town, only to find all the passengers are twisted, dead-eyed ghouls. In the end, she is drawn back to the pavilion where she finds a Monster’s Ball of sorts, with all the ghouls dancing. In the distance she sees a pale, ghoulish version of herself paired with The Man…
Carnival of Souls was director Herk Harvey’s only feature film – a film that feels overly-artistic and downright pretentious in comparison to its ’60s horror brethren. The film relies more on atmosphere than special effects to create an unshakeable mood of dread, which was was refreshing considering films like The Day of the Triffids and King Kong vs. Godzilla were released the same year.
With directors like Roger Corman beginning their ascension to drive-in dominance, Harvey made an eerie B-Movie that felt like an A-picture, closer to Ingmar Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock than the schlockmeisters of the Atomic Age.
As part of the Criterion Collection, Carnival of Souls is no doubt an important, influential film. It inspired the look of George Romero’s zombies in The Night of the Living Dead and influenced David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. A creepy, altogether effective classic, Carnival of Souls is required viewing for October’s 31 Days of Horror.
If you enjoyed Carnival of Souls, you might want to check out Insidious, which is heavily inspired by Herk Harvey’s film. Saw franchise veterans James Wan and Leigh Whannell team with Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli for this tale of a family that moves into an old house and begins to suspect they are under siege from otherworldly forces when their young son inexplicably falls into a deep coma.
As devoted parents, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) struggle to uncover the cause of their son’s condition, but the stress of the situation begins to take its toll on their marriage. Later, when ghoulish specters appear to reach out from the realm of shadows, the terrified parents realize they’re dealing with powers far beyond human comprehension.
Follow Me on Twitter, and come back tomorrow for a new double-shot of horror!