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"Tongues, tongues, slither in the mud; that’s how a carnival grows, my son."—Lucifer
The Devil's Carnival is a short film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich. It is a Spiritual Successor of sorts to their previous cult hit Repo the Genetic Opera with several actors returning in different roles.
The story revolves around three desperate individuals who find themselves at a carnival set in Hell run by Lucifer (played by Zdunich) himself. There they endure the repetition of the transgressions that lead them to Hell in the first place.
It is the first planned 'episode' of what could be a larger storyline.
This film provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion - Lucifer's role appears to be similar to that of the Graverobber from Repo! The Genetic Opera.
- Aesop's Fables - Lucifer likes to tell stories from this; the sinners' stories correspond to various fables (The Dog and Its Reflection, The Scorpion and The Frog, and Grief and His Due). This adds a more metaphorical feel to the film's version of Hell- two of the three sinners aren't actually "sinful" by modern interpretations, but their mistakes trap them in suffering nonetheless.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Tamara's fondness for dangerous men sends her to Hell... and continues to get her into trouble. The end implies she's still seeking help from Lucifer.
- All Knowing Singing Narrator/Greek Chorus - The trailers indicate that Lucifer is this.
- Author Appeal - When asked what his favorite part of the filming was, Terrence Zdunich revealed that he left in the middle of his lengthy Lucifer makeup process just to watch Merrywood being whipped by the Tamer.
- Clown, who played the Tamer, said that was his favorite part too.
- Bawdy Song: "Prick! Goes The Scorpion's Tale".
- Berserk Button: Do not ever accuse Lucifer of killing an innocent child.
Lucifer: I am not in the market of killing innocent children. That's God's jurisdiction.
- Circus of Fear - It's run by Lucifer! What did you expect?
- Dark Is Not Evil - While being in the business of punishing the wicked, Lucifer seems to be more concerned with the fate of innocents and the redemption of sinners than God though this is a very new development.
- Double Entendre: "Prick! Goes The Scorpion's Tale" is one big, long one.
- When the Ticket-Keeper says to John "Didn't I warn you that cutting was against the rules?" Makes sense when you consider why John is in hell. he killed himself by cutting his wrists
- Evil Twin - The Twin becomes this to any sinner who falls in his clutches.
- Fake Twin Gambit - The Twin's modus operandi.
- Foreshadowing - Of a sort. In "666," the only one of the rules specifically mentioned in the lyrics is "No cutting in line." Guess which rule John breaks later.
- God - Played by Paul Sorvino, of all people.
- Grief Song - John's song is appropriately titled "Grief".
- Heaven and Hell - The ending hints at a growing war between them.
- Knife Crazy: The Scorpion
- Knife Nut: The Scorpion
- Light Is Not Good - God is indifferent to the suffering of his creations. He is depicted as a toymaker who throws away everything that isn't completely perfect, rather than try and fix anything that is broken.
- Minion with an F In Evil - The Magician comes off as a goofy, childish innocent in the middle of the creepy carnies. He still wants to join in the "fun" of punishing sinners, but his disappointment when he's not called up to participate in one of the acts is so sincere and pouty that you kind of want to hug the guy and tell him his time will come. The Disney-pink sparkles from his wand, his goofy dancing, and his habit of talking to his stuffed rabbit don't help.
- Monster Clown - A good number of The Carnies.
- Number of the Beast - Guess how many rules Hell has.
- Perky Goth - Wick and The Woe Maidens. They are, at least, enthusiastic about their work.
- Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat - The Magician's modus operandi.
- Self-Inflicted Hell - Somewhat. The dead guests don't land in this Hell exclusively via being bad people (though Merrywood's actual sinful nature doesn't do her any favors), but rather through being unable to overcome their mistakes and thus trapping themselves in haunting repetitions of the things that made them miserable in life.
- Troubled but Cute: The Scorpion pretends to be this at this but he's really Knife Crazy.
- Villain Song - Several.
- "Trust Me", sung by The Scorpion.
- "Grace for Sale", sung by Lucifer.