Carnival of Souls

A young woman is haunted by unearthly phantoms of death in one of the all-time great horror films.
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Format:  DVD
item number:  ALP 4042D
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DVD Features:

  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 1 hours, 18 minutes
  • Video: Black & White
  • Released: February 18, 2003
  • Originally Released: 1962
  • Label: Alpha Video
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Packaging: Keep Case
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33

Performers, Cast and Crew:

Performer: , &
Directed by
Edited by &
Screenplay by
Composition by
Produced by
Director of Photography:

Entertainment Reviews:


Total Count: 35


User Ratings: 9,422
...This black-belt cult item feels a lot like a vintage Twilight Zone episode...
USA Today
May 19, 1990
Harvey leaves enough questions unanswered in this twilight zone to ensure that Carnival Of Souls enjoys a haunting afterlife in the viewer's mind. Full Review
Eye for Film
Mar 1, 2009
There isn't very much here to sustain interest. Full Review
Chicago Reader
Sep 21, 2007
Carnival of Souls works well enough as chill-up-the-spine cinema. Full Review
Washington Post
Jan 1, 2000
Rating: 3/4 -- It depends on crisp black-and-white photography, atmosphere and surprisingly effective acting. Full Review
Chicago Sun-Times
Jan 1, 2000
There is a nightmare quality to its best scenes, but the film is essentially a great half-hour Twilight Zone padded out to feature length. Full Review
Aug 14, 2010
Rating: 3.5/4 -- One of those unique horror movies where the low budget, gritty footage and rough performances combine to create not only an unsettling atmosphere of dread but also a study of existential angst in the face of unimaginable horror. Full Review
Creative Loafing
Jul 16, 2016

Description by

An introverted church organ player named Mary (Candice Hilligoss), mysteriously emerges onto a river bank dazed and uninjured hours after a serious car accident. Mary is pursued by a terrifying, ghoulish apparition beckoning her. Although she tries to run from this grinning stalker and the nightmarish goings-on in an old pavilion, there is no escaping the fate that awaits her. It is nearly impossibe to watch this film and not be haunted by its combinaton of music, silence and imagery. For nearly four decades, Carnival of Souls has been a classic of low-budget horror. It is, most amazingly, the first and only feature film made by director Herk Harvey and writer John Clifford.

Product Description:

Made in 1962 on an extremely low budget, Herk Harvey's classic CARNIVAL OF SOULS has become legendary for its ability to create a tensely creepy atmosphere with virtually no special effects. A young woman (Candace Hilligoss) is involved in a car crash when her car falls off a bridge while drag racing with some friends. After she pulls herself from the river, she moves to a new town to take a job as a church organist. Meanwhile, a distinctly eerie and hollow-faced man seems to be following her wherever she goes, while an abandoned lakeside amusement park beckons her with an almost gravitational pull. The effective organ score enhances the film to great effect, as do the bleak landscapes of Utah's salt flats.

Plot Synopsis:

The first feature from Harvey, who had previously made industrial and promotional films for the Centron Corporation in Lawrence, Kansas, CARNIVAL OF SOULS developed a cultlike following despite being rarely screened for nearly thirty years. The TWILIGHT ZONE-esque tale of a woman who is in a car crash, only to find herself being pursued by spirits, the film's strength is its ability to sustain a very disturbing atmosphere with little more than some makeup, an eerie organ score and spare black-and-white photography. Harvey achieved his stated mission: for the film to have the "look of a Bergman" and the "feel of a Cocteau."


Production Notes:

  • Film debuts for entire cast.
  • VidAmerica's release of "Carnival of Souls" was taken from a newly-struck 35mm print of the complete 80-minute director's cut. Other versions of the film exist, most taken from inferior prints and only running 73 minutes.
  • Filmed on location in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in Lawrence, Kansas, and at the Centron Studios in Lawrence. Centron made industrial, educational, and social guidance films in the 1950's and 1960's, employing director Herk Harvey, screenwriter John Clifford, and most of "Carnival"'s technical staff. Director Robert Altman also made industrial films for Centron during this period.
  • Estimated budget: $30,000.

Movie Lovers' Ratings & Reviews:

Customer Rating:
Based on 34224 ratings.
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What's not to like? Movie Lover: from Cleveland, VA US -- July, 26, 2010

I love this movie, like other reviewers note it's great, I just want to say if you are holding out for the Criterion version because you think the print is probably bad, don't. Unless you have 30 bucks laying around to blow for not much reason. Alpha's version is sharp and has wonderful sound. I have heard the Criterion has some 30 seconds or so more footage, big whoop! I would much rather have this version and 5 or 6 more Alpha movies than the Criterion.

CLOSE TO THE BEST OF 60'S HORROR Movie Lover: from SYRACUSE, NY US -- January, 10, 2006

Following Night of the Living Dead this movie is the best of 60's horror and then some! I loved everything about it! It was scary and suspenseful. Shame to those who call this anything but fantastic!

Truly a Scary, Creepy @#% Movie!!!! Movie Lover: from Texas -- August, 16, 2005

This is one of the creepist movies I've seen in a long time. The non-religious organist who gets increasingly spooky is fabulous. The soundtrack (organ music) is unbelievably creepy! If you don't enjoy this movie, there is something wrong with you!

One of the best films ever. Movie Lover: from Clifton, NJ US -- July, 3, 2005

I sing the praises of this film to movie-collecting friends all the time. I know someone who lives in Lawrence, KS and she told me this film is a Halloween staple on local TV, and that in order to get to work she has to drive over the bridge featured in the film every morning. Oh, to live in Kansas, home of Herk Harvey and Dorothy Gale.

I agree! Movie Lover: from St. Petersburg, FL US -- October, 14, 2004

Good point about the three men in Mary Henry's life! I first saw Carnival of Souls on television in 1965 and it has haunted me for years. I got to see it restored and in a theatre in 1990. A very good friend of mine went to school in Lawrence, Kansas where the film was shot and got to meet Herk Harvey, the director, and other people involved in the movie's production. Alpha's disc is very well done for a budget company, I have dozens of Alpha discs and plan to get many more. Thank you for making so many films available to collectors at a good price.
Sam Moffitt St. Petersburg FL

Atmospheric Chiller Movie Lover: from Trumbull, CT US -- July, 14, 2004

A low-budget spine-tingler that uses its meager financial resources to the max! One of the best of the independent cheapies, and certainly deserving of its cult status. The juxtaposition of wide and almost wintery extertiorshots with claustrophobic interior shots sets up the mood of this film VERY nicely. CARNINVAL OF SOULS illustrates how a good story and directorial talent can triumph over an almost empty wallet. (Directorial wannabes take note!)

Carnival Of Souls Movie Lover: from clamart, Hauts-de-Seine FR -- March, 29, 2004

Extremely eerie film of a girl pursued by a phantom figure and her attraction to an abandoned dance hall pavillion after she has been seemingly drowned. Don't watch this alone or with the lights out! Really deserves the cult following that its earned.

Carnaval of Souls Movie Lover: from long beach -- March, 24, 2004

Comparable to Night of the Living Dead. It captures your imagination to its limits!

Deserves better Movie Lover: from Tejas -- March, 1, 2004

This film is amazing. I can't belive that it has been basicly overlooked by most collectors and the film goers of the time. The quality of the Alpha disc is exceptional and I highly recomend you get this film.

Disquieting little gem of a horror film Movie Lover: from Tomball, TX US -- September, 25, 2003

I’m really surprised it took me as long as it did to discover this disquieting little gem of a horror film. It’s also surprising how ahead of its time it seems. The story is beautiful in its simplicity, but there’s sufficient depth to keep you thinking about it for days. It’s also got a pretty decent ending, and though I saw it coming a mile away, it was still powerful (and I might not have seen it coming in 1962).

The DVD itself is one of the consistently best from all the Alpha titles I own. The picture quality, in particular, is top notch.

If my review is vague, it’s because of the very nature of this film. Give it a shot if you appreciate slower, moody, and atmospheric psychological horror films.

An Eerie Masterpiece Movie Lover: from Los Angeles -- May, 25, 2003

My favorite horror film, Carnival of Souls is a masterpiece of spectral dread and the unnerving mysteries of the grave. Candace Hilligoss amazes as the puzzling and enigmatic Mary Henry, whose music can stir any soul but her own. She meets three men -a minister, a doctor, and a sleazy neighbor- who are interested in her soul, her mind, and her body respectively. But none can save her from the grip of the grave. Very acceptable print and DVD presentation.

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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 4,320
  • UPC: 089218404299
  • Shipping Weight: 0.27/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

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