In preparation for Halloween, my friends and I are watching a weekly horror movie. This week we watched Carnival of Souls (1962), directed by Herk Harvey. As a Mormon from Salt Lake City, this film is even closer to my heart as it takes place in my hometown.
Watching Carnival of Souls last night for maybe the fourth time, I had the opportunity to really just sit and think about this film. Carnival was made in roughly three weeks by Herk Harvey, who was inspired by seeing Salt Air in Utah as he drove across the country. His story takes the concept of the living dead and puts a twist on it - how meaningless is life in a world that you don't really LIVE in? The film follows our lead actress to Salt Lake City where she has been hired to play the organ in a local Protestant type church ("Oh sure, we are not the largest church in the area obviously" quips the minister with a slight jab at the Mormon population) after a near fatal car crash in her home town of Kansas. It is here that she is haunted by the large building in the desert, its haunted and lifeless carnival atmosphere, and particularly by one dead individual who stalks her wherever she goes.
Although this film is not really scary per se, it has some very haunting visuals and music. Additionally, the underbelly of Carnival is disturbing as we all agreed that the main character will end up in hell due to her lack of love, charity, humility and care for other people. The film drives home that a person without feeling or love is dead already - and there are few differences between that life and the hell that awaits them.