Organist Mary survives a car accident in which her friends are killed and moves to Utah soon after to take up a residency at a church. However, she is stalked by a ghoulish figure who vanishes just as quickly as he appears. An abandoned carnival just outside of town seems to hold the answers.
Reportedly an influence on both George A Romero (the ghouls themselves are clear precursors to Romero’s zombies) and David Lynch (from its dreamy sequences to its supporting cast of oddballs, including the dotty Mrs Thomas and sleazebag Mr Linden), Carnival of Souls may seem a little pedestrian compared to what followed and its themes have been explored again and again, but for the time, its an undeniably absorbing work. It’s creepy when it needs to be, with some eye-catching make-up and inventive sound design, but also has a dark comic streak and some quirky, often snappy, dialogue. Overall, it’s always entertaining and Candace Hilligoss is superb in the leading role.