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 Post subject: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
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Carnival of Souls

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A young woman in a small Kansas town survives a drag race accident, then agrees to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she becomes haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her toward an abandoned lakeside pavilion. Made by industrial filmmakers on a modest budget, the eerily effective B-movie classic Carnival of Souls was intended to have "the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau"—and, with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score, it succeeds. Herk Harvey's macabre masterpiece gained a cult following on late-night television and continues to inspire filmmakers today.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Selected-scene audio commentary featuring director Herk Harvey and screenwriter John Clifford
• New interview with comedian and writer Dana Gould
• New video essay by film critic David Cairns
The Movie That Wouldn't Die!, a documentary on the 1989 reunion of the film's cast and crew
The Carnival Tour, a 2000 update on the film's locations
• Excerpts from movies made by the Centron Corporation, an industrial film company based in Lawrence, Kansas, that once employed Harvey and Clifford
• Deleted scenes
• Outtakes, accompanied by Gene Moore's organ score
• History of the Saltair Resort in Salt Lake City, where key scenes in the film were shot
• Trailer
• More!
• PLUS: An essay by writer and programmer Kier-La Janisse

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 1:20 am 
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I'm amazed nobody's commented on this film yet. I'm rather fond of it, though I don't rate it as highly as some commentators. It's by turns creepy and cheesy, and often not where you expect it to be (I find Sidney Berger's off-kilter seduction scenes much scarier than the climactic 'dance of death', for instance), and there are far more indelible sequences and images than you could reasonably expect from such a seat-of-the-pants production. Solid performances, great sense of place (not just in the grand, gothic Saltair and organ factory settings) and some effective set pieces.

What really impresses me about this set is the care Criterion have lavished on it: two versions in great transfers, commentary, reunion documentary (speaking of cheesy), outtakes (more than half as much material again as the actual film), plus further acres of supporting material. My favourite extra is the compilation of Centron industrial films, including a trippy fish-eye-lens office tour. This and Brazil are the first two Criterion releases to really show the potential of the format, and it's held up really well.


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:07 am 
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zedz wrote:
I'm amazed nobody's commented on this film yet. I'm rather fond of it, though I don't rate it as highly as some commentators. It's by turns creepy and cheesy, and often not where you expect it to be (I find Sidney Berger's off-kilter seduction scenes much scarier than the climactic 'dance of death', for instance), and there are far more indelible sequences and images than you could reasonably expect from such a seat-of-the-pants production. Solid performances, great sense of place (not just in the grand, gothic Saltair and organ factory settings) and some effective set pieces.


I really dig the unsettling vibe that permeates the entire movie keeping you a little off-balance as you anticipate something creepy to happen. There is something off-kilter, like that of a nightmare, that runs throughout.

Quote:
What really impresses me about this set is the care Criterion have lavished on it: two versions in great transfers, commentary, reunion documentary (speaking of cheesy), outtakes (more than half as much material again as the actual film), plus further acres of supporting material. My favourite extra is the compilation of Centron industrial films, including a trippy fish-eye-lens office tour. This and Brazil are the first two Criterion releases to really show the potential of the format, and it's held up really well.


My favorite extra is on the history of the carnival in which part of the film was shot in. I found it to be very fascinating... how it was once the pinnacle of opulence and then fell on hard times and was eventually shut down. Very interesting.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:12 pm 
bleh... it's ok. the organ soundtrack though, gave me a headache. This movie is exactly what I would expect from an industrial film company making a drive in horror film.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 1:52 am 
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After watching this movie I was confused because the Saltaire I grew up with was nothing like in the film. Turns out it burned down and the one I know is just a venue for crappy bands like P.O.D. (worst concert ever!). Still, I like watching this movie just so I can say to people "Look, it's the Saltaire!"


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 2:23 pm 
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I, too, liked this film a lot. It's gone from a rental of a curiosity to a wish-list item.

I'm wondering about the differences between the two versions of the film. Did Criterion need to put the whole film on another disc just for a minute or two? Or are there other differences? (I don't recall and don't have the DVD to consult.)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:25 pm 
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denti alligator wrote:
I'm wondering about the differences between the two versions of the film. Did Criterion need to put the whole film on another disc just for a minute or two? Or are there other differences? (I don't recall and don't have the DVD to consult.)


denti, it's a double disc set with director's commentary on the director's cut (disc 2).


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:27 pm 
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They probably wanted to do a 2-disc set anyway because if I remember right the extras add up to over two hours. By the way, the cuts are not immediately noticeable, in my opinion. They just trimmed a few seconds here and there and it added up to five-minute difference.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:30 pm 
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I know it's a two-disc set. I'm wondering about the nature of the cuts.
I mean, why not use seemless branching if they're so few and minor?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:41 pm 

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I believe the answer is because they had access to a very nice 35mm duplicate negative for the shorter theatrical version and the director's cut was taken from an analogue Beta master Herk Harvey supervised before he died. Matt dug up a great article on the making of the disc on the last board. They could have cut them both together with slightly lesser quality for the new and extended scenes, but there's so much video material on the set anyway, they'd have had to stretch to two discs anyway to maintain decent bitrates.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 4:40 pm 
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denti alligator wrote:
I know it's a two-disc set. I'm wondering about the nature of the cuts.
I mean, why not use seemless branching if they're so few and minor?


What Narshty said. Because of the different sources, the seamless braching would not have been seamless. But this is unusual for Criterion. In most cases when the differences between versions are this minor they'll just include a feature about the versions with relevant clips (though I wish they'd gone further than that and included both versions with Night and the City, and especially with Joan of Arc). I think the deciding factor in this case was that it was the truncated version that was available in the gorgeous print. If it had been the other way around I doubt we would have seen both cuts in full.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 4:44 pm 

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Not the right thread, but I asked the BFI about including the full UK version of Night and the City on their upcoming release of the film and was told they couldn't for legal reasons to do with the wishes of both Fox and Jules Dassin. This was apparently the reason Criterion could only include snippets of it on their version.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 4:47 pm 
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Narshty wrote:
Not the right thread, but I asked the BFI about including the full UK version of Night and the City on their upcoming release of the film and was told they couldn't for legal reasons to do with the wishes of both Fox and Jules Dassin. This was apparently the reason Criterion could only include snippets of it on their version.


Ah, thanks for that. So we'll just agitate for the two-disc Joan reissue, then?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 6:47 pm 
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This was the second Criterion DVD I purchased. The video extras are indeed a little unacademic and perhaps a bit cheesy, but overall, I still feel that the it is a great package.

On it's own modest terms, the film is a small triumph and has many effective moments. In addition to Cocteau, it seems to owe something to The Twilight Zone in general - which is a good thing - but it does have a weird style all of its own and the abandoned carnival is an amazing location. It is worth remembering that supernatural horror films at this time were begining to lean towards sleaze and gore - in Europe at least - at the expense of unsettling atmosphere and suspense and were also begining to be shot almost exclusively in colour. Carnival of Souls is one of the last 'great' supernatural horror film shot in black and white - depending on your point of view, of course.

I would have loved to have seen more films like this in the CC, in recent years, but Criterion seem to have moved away from the horror genre, save Eyes Without a Face - which isn't really a horror film - not a supernatural horror, at least. We're all awaiting positive news regarding the Eclipse sub-label and I really hope that it happens, if it means that the more esoteric and - I perish to use the word - 'cult' titles appear on DVD with gorgeous transfers, extras and packaging.

Kino released the truly mind-bending, Dementia (1955, John Parker) in it's barely-seen original version and also included the drastically recut, restructured and re-titled version Daughter of Horror on a superb disc in 2000, but have also been a bit cagey in releasing such films in recent years.

'Arty' films, though, it has to be said, are few and far between, but these two would fit into the Collection quite nicely - and no-one owns the rights in the U.S. - I think:

De Dødes tjern (The Lake of the Damned) (1958, Norway, Kåre Bergstrøm, 2.35:1, black and white)

Valkoinen peura (The White Reindeer) (1952, Finland, Erik Blomberg)

Just a thought. Obviously, we should discuss this elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 2:03 pm 
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The guy at the Criterion Contraption site has reached Carnival of Souls and near the end has included a number of pictures from Herk Harvey's other industrial film, Shake Hands With Danger. It looks a lot of fun, with workers getting sliced, crushed and set on fire due to poor hazard awareness and I'll have to try and get the DVD of it!


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:03 pm 
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So I watched this again for the first time in a couple of years, and for all of the talk of the "look of a Bergman" and "feel of a Cocteau," I was struck by the (likely unintentional) similarities this film shares with "Last Year at Marienbad." Perhaps its because I only recently saw "Marienbad" for the first time. In addition to the use of a disturbing and haunting organ score in both films, there are also the ghoulish figures who inhabit an atmospheric ballroom/dance hall. The main (and frigid) female characters (Delphine Seyrig and Candace Hilligoss) are both pursued by a mysterious male figure. There may be some implied violent act in the pasts of both women (obviously Hilligoss's ghostly stalker stems from her car accident, but there seems to be something that goes back even further to impact her complete lack of libido). And of course, the characters in both movies seem to exist in a kind of limbo or alternate reality, where past and present seem to coexist. At times, Hilligoss appears to be on the cusp of two different realities, in which she can see other people, but they can neither see nor hear her.

Okay, so maybe this is just nonsensical rambling, but I like to think there is perhaps just a little Resnais mixed in with the Bergman and Cocteau in "Carnival of Souls."


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:08 pm 
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You wanta see a low budget horror film that looks like a Bergman, see Leslie Stevens' excellent Incubus.

Bring your esperanto lexicon!


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:20 am 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
You wanta see a low budget horror film that looks like a Bergman, see Leslie Stevens' excellent Incubus.

Bring your esperanto lexicon!

Indeed! I read last year that a pristine 35mm element had been discovered that lack burned-in subtitles. I cannot recall where I read this - it may have been the DVD Maniacs forum. Shatner, speaking Esperanto, what a legend!


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:12 am 

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I saw this a couple of weeks ago on the big screen in excellent conditions - remarkable 35mm print, respectful audience - yet came out liking the film less (when I first got the Criterion DVD I'd watch the film once a week or so). The awkwardness, "what'll we shoot today?" structure and deathly slow pacing that's easier to smooth over when watching it on TV becomes quite painful on an enlarged scale. The flaws are magnified disastrously and the embarrassed/bored reaction spills over into the once-spooky Saltair sequences. This might be the only film I regret seeing at the cinema.


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:01 pm 
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Indeed! I read last year that a pristine 35mm element had been discovered that lack burned-in subtitles. I cannot recall where I read this - it may have been the DVD Maniacs forum. Shatner, speaking Esperanto, what a legend!

EPIC!!! That would be cause for celebration, since the French cinemateque print not only had the burned in subtitles and lacked a touch of detail due to relentless projection, but they had to hem in the image quite a bit in the telecine gate when running the transfer. What I wouldn't give to see a beautiful new CC or MoC from a pristine source (and it is absolutely worthy).

As opposed to Narshty's take above on Carnival losing some effect upon theatrical projection, Incubus could only grow more gloomy, dark and ominously effective on the big screen.


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:32 pm 

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Just heard that Carnival of Souls actor Sidney Berger has passed away. Although COS was his main claim to filmic acting fame, those of us in Houston knew him as a well regarded drama professor at the University of Houston, and director of the Houston Shakespeare Festival. I don't see any official obits yet.


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:21 am
I've seen Carnival of Souls several times, but it's interesting that I had never even heard of the film until 2007 (despite the "cult" status).

Great film - very creepy/unerrving; throughout, there was an acute sense of despair/sadness, but without being over the top.

I wonder if this film was "inspired" by the also quite creepy TZ Episode The Hitch-hiker (1960)?!


Last edited by AnamorphicWidescreen on Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:20 pm 
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AnamorphicWidescreen wrote:
...I also wonder if this film was "inspired" by the also quite creepy TZ Episode The Hitch-hiker (1960)...

The TWILIGHT ZONE episode was based on a very popular radio play written in 1941 by Lucille Fletcher, so it's likely that the makers of CARNIVAL OF SOULS were inspired by the radio drama if not the ZONE adaptation.


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:41 pm 
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REMEMBERING LONGTIME THEATRE DIRECTOR SIDNEY BERGER


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 Post subject: Re: 63 Carnival of Souls
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:39 pm 
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Roger Ryan wrote:
AnamorphicWidescreen wrote:
...I also wonder if this film was "inspired" by the also quite creepy TZ Episode The Hitch-hiker (1960)...

The TWILIGHT ZONE episode was based on a very popular radio play written in 1941 by Lucille Fletcher, so it's likely that the makers of CARNIVAL OF SOULS were inspired by the radio drama if not the ZONE adaptation.

Interestingly, Herk Harvey says in the interviews included on the DVD that the seemingly "Hitch-Hiker" inspired ending was a last-minute decision, and the script was not written with it in mind.


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