|YMMV • Radar • Quotes • (Funny • Heartwarming • Awesome) • Fridge • Characters • Fanfic Recs • Nightmare Fuel • Shout Out • Plot • Tear Jerker • Headscratchers • Trivia • WMG • Recap • Ho Yay • Image Links • Memes • Haiku • Laconic|
Carnival of Souls was a low-budget "B" film ($33,000 in 1962) that did mediocre business on release, but has become a cult classic; enough of one to merit a Criterion DVD release. In fact, some people consider it to be the best "B" movie ever made.
The plot is hard to summarize without spoilers, but its essence is a young woman who perceives, with gradually increasing frequency, images of a horrid, deformed stranger (as, for example, a temporary appearance in a mirror). The screw tightens until, at the climax, we find out who The Man is and why she has been receiving these visitations.
The movie is a case of an obscenely high-number of routine, standard tropes that more or less accidentally happen to work to a whole greater than the sum of the parts (or of the makers' designs and--arguably--capabilities).
Along with a handful of other films, it also has the distinction of being riffed twice by Mike Nelson: First on the colorized DVD released by Legend Films, the second time with help from Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett on Riff Trax.
In 1998, a Wes Craven-produced remake was released, which received mixed, mostly-negative reviews. While it, too, is available on DVD, it's a pretty safe bet that it won't ever get a Criterion release.
The Original Contains Examples of:
- Alone in a Crowd
- Amusement Park of Doom
- Bad Dreams: One of Mary's visions is revealed to have been a dream near the end.
- The Bad Guy Wins
- Be Careful What You Wish For: See Ineffectual Loner below.
- Big Bad: The Man
- Butt Monkey: John
- Celibate Hero
- Chase Scene
- Cold Open
- Dances and Balls: Part of the Carnival's backstory. Played for Horror later on in the main story.
- Dead All Along
- Deadpan Snarker: Mary when she has coffee with John. This part honestly plays more like a period sit-com than a horror movie.
- Defrosting Ice Queen
- Downer Ending
- The End
- Evil Albino
- Finally Found the Body: How The Reveal is made.
- Fridge Horror: The really scary thing about Carnival of Souls is what it implies about the afterlife. Forget pearly gates and tunnels of light; when you die, you become a cackling ghoul who haunts the desolate and abandoned corners of the world.
- The Grim Reaper: What The Man seems to be.
- Haunted Heroine
- Hazardous Water
- Hollywood Driving
- Ineffectual Loner: Mary until she no longer wants to be alone. This entire movie could arguably be summed up as "being Mary sucks".
- In the End You Are on Your Own
- Looks Like Cesare: The Man, to some extent
- Mirror Monster
- Motifs: Water is either present or referenced to in a lot of the scary stuff which makes sense given the opening and the Twist Ending. It's inconsistent though as some of The Man's apperances have nothing to do with water.
- Mr. Exposition: Several examples.
- No Name Given: The Big Bad
- Oh Crap: An oddly-delayed version of this occurs during the second visit to the psychologist.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: If you love this sort of thing, Carnival of Souls will be your dream movie; if you hate it, steer clear.
- Our Ghosts Are Different
- Parental Abandonment: Inverted. Mary refuses to visit her folks after the accident.
- Perpetual Smiler: The Man
- Preacher Man
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: John
- Silent Antagonist
- Slasher Smile: The Man is almost always like this, but the other Undead only break into a smile near the end.
- Stalker with a Crush: John, as well as a possible way to interpret The Man.
- Sugar and Ice Personality
- Surreal Horror
- Tomato in the Mirror
- Twist Ending
- The Undead
Tropes Present In the Remake That Were Not In The Original:
- Bittersweet Ending: More-or-less the same ending as the original, but with a more uplifting and heroic twist. Alex is revealed to have died in the opening, but, in doing so, had managed to defeat the Big Bad, thus ensuring her little sister's survival.
- Black Bug Room
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Disappeared Dad
- Dying Dream
- Heroic Sacrifice: The reason Alex's car crashed in the beginning is that she was trying to pull off one of these, in the end, it turned out she succeeded.
- Mama Bear: Alex toward Sandra.
- Missing Mom
- Monster Clown
- Panty Shot
- Revenge: Louis's motive.
- Taking You with Me: In the opening, Alex deliberately steers her car off the road so that the paedophile who is holding her hostage won't be able to kill her sister. She ends up surviving until the end, where it turns out that everything after the crash was just a dying dream.