Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Carnival Of Souls (1962)

Starring Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison, Stan Levitt
Directed by Herk Harvey
(actor & director credits courtesy

A professional organist, after surviving a terrible car crash, takes a job playing for a church in another town, but is haunted by visions of a terrifying man stalking her.

One of the most memorable independent films I've seen, the picture is a genuine horror classic, with a talented performance by Hilligoss, and unnerving direction by Harvey.  Although the film has plenty of dialogue, its most effective scenes unfold without it, as we study Hilligoss and her emotional state as she's entranced by a mysterious abandoned carnival and repelled by the frightening ghoul only she seems to see.  Gene Moore's music is the perfect accompaniment for the stark black and white visuals, using unsettling organ notes to build a musical tapestry of horror.  The cinematography and editing are also of a greater quality than you expect to see in an independent movie, building suspense through talented intercutting and intense close-ups of Hilligoss.  Harvey's attention towards the composition of each shot should also be lauded, with the actors perfectly captured in each frame, and eerie long shots, particularly of the palatial carnival setting, adding an exquisite feeling of mystery to the horror.

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