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DVD Review: RiffTrax – Carnival of Souls (1962)

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The low-budget horror film Carnival of Souls is quite possibly the worst of the cult classics of the '60s, memorable only for its headache-inducing organ music and the vacant stares and blank expressions of actress Candace Hilligoss. This, of course, makes it fodder for the folks at RiffTrax.

Unfortunately, this RiffTrax arrangement may be the worst of the collection of RiffTrax DVDs. RiffTrax DVDs provide a running commentary by the folks from Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show that gained cult status based on its wacky characters and surefire laughs. However, the commentary here is mostly annoying, consisting primarily of timid jokes and sarcastic remarks.

Maybe it's because I had enough of Mystery Science Theater 3000 when it was aired on TV, or maybe it's because jokes rarely hit the mark. Whatever it may be, the RiffTrax commentary is becoming work to sit through and pinpointing a solid joke is becoming more difficult then ever.

Filled to the brim with all-around ineffective performances and an uneventful script, this so-bad-it's-awful film features loads of screen time being wasted on empty scenery and unnecessary traveling. It finds itself knee-deep in the kiddie end of the horror pool, absent of scares and calling attention to a tedious pace that only drags on as the film proceeds.

After a traumatic accident leaves her rattled and confused, Mary Henry (Hilligoss) is haunted by the inability to communicate with those around her and is stalked by a creepy man. Drawn to an abandoned carnival in Utah, Mary begins to question her own sanity after seeing a psychiatrist and encountering some strange visions.

Not aging as well as some seem to think, it takes myriad stabs at creating an eerie atmosphere and disappoints. Neither scary nor impressive, the film features dialog that has no crucial importance whatsoever, wasting time you will never get back. And if you're like me, you'll more than likely regret having sat through the entire film.

It’s a failed attempt at making a ’60s ghost story scary by making the ordinary less… ordinary. It’s a boring and outdated film, critically lacking in direction and acting.  Overrated by the majority of the public and hailed by critics as an original spook story, a more realistic description of Carnival of Souls would be empty, deplete, and hollow to the core.

Movie Rating:

RiffTrax Commentary Rating: 

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