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Carnival of Souls

Year: 1962
Production Co: Off Color Films
Director: Herk Harvey
Producer: Herk Harvey
Writer: John Clifford
Cast: Candace Hilligoss

A razor sharp, eerie, atmospheric and very creepy movie that you should make every effort to see if you're a fan of true horror.

The 50s and 60s were often constrained by the standards of decency of the day, and the results in horror films were either hackneyed nods toward the sort of gore and violence we're desensitised to now or films that had to rely on being genuinely scary.

Carnival of Souls is firmly one of the latter, leaving torture porn and the slasher genre in the dust. When a group of hoons mock-chase a car full of pretty girls, the resulting accident sees the girls' car plunge off the bridge. While rescuers try to drag the wreck out of the water, lone survivor Mary staggers out of the water, in shock but alive.

Traumatised by the experience, she wants nothing more than to leave town and start a new life. She moves to the city, gets a job as a church organist and moves into a welcoming guesthouse, but the nightmare isn't over. A creepy, pale figure appears to her on the road at night and in reflections of windows and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an abandoned fun park in the desert.

We're given clues to the shocking final twist here and there, such as the episodes Mary suffers where she's apparently invisible to everyone around her, and while every detail isn't explained in full, the Hitchcockian plot will keep you on the edge of your seat and the creeping unease will give you the sneaking desire to cower behind it.

What makes the terror even more effective is if the power suddenly goes off five minutes from the end in the scariest scene while you're watching it alone on your laptop, like it did in my fucking house.

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