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Carnival of Souls (1962) – Episode 47 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You can take all the baths you want. I’m not one to make a fuss about a thing like that.” Sounds like a great landlady, right? Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they take as many baths as they want and go dancing at the Carnival of Souls (1962)! After all, who would make a fuss about that?

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 47 — Carnival of Souls (1962)

Sprouting from the imagination of director Herk Harvey and writer John Clifford, Carnival of Souls didn’t exactly take Hollywood by storm and, in fact, almost faded into oblivion. In the fifty-plus years since its original release, however, the film has gone from hard-to-get mythical status to legitimate legend with a coveted Criterion Blu-ray edition. As their only fictional film, Carnival of Souls is quite a legacy for Harvey and Clifford, a pair of co-workers at Centron Corporation, the maker of industrial and educational films.

Carnival of Souls tells the tale of Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) who narrowly escapes death as the car in which she is a passenger crashes through bridge guardrails and plunges into the river. As Mary’s life moves forward after the accident, she encounters the landlady (Frances Feist) at her new apartment, her new neighbor (Sidney Berger), the minister (Art Ellison) at the church where she plays the organ, and a doctor (Stan Levitt) who notices Candace is acting strangely. Throughout these encounters, Candace is haunted by the recurring vision of a ghoulish man (Herk Harvey). What does the ghoul want and who is he? What’s wrong with Candace? How will this all end?

Joseph saw Carnival of Souls in a theater during its official re-release in 1989-1990 and dug the film’s dreamlike surrealism. Chad and Jeff saw the film much later and were not quite as impressed but agree that decades of viewing Twilight Zone-type fare may have jaded them. The winning interpretation of the story comes from Chad while Jeff seems more interested in Herk Harvey’s background. The Grue Crew is unanimous in calling Carnival of Souls a must see for all horror fans.

The Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule will be Invasion of the Saucer-Men (1957)! Whitney Collazo is on a film shoot and couldn’t be with us for this episode but she should be back for Invasion of the Saucer-Men.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! After all, without you, we’re just some whack-a-doodles talking about the films we love. Send us an email at feedback@gruesomemagazine.com, leave a review on iTunes, or comment at either GruesomeMagazine.com or the Gruesome Magazine Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you so much for listening!”

Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for Horrornews.net and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.