Carnival of Souls

Director: Herk Harvey
Year Released: 1962
Rating: 2.0

A resurrected cult film that was a midnight movie hit over in Europe and especially Sweden (where, after seeing enough Bergman, they have acquired a profound interest in death) and passed around by fans via bootlegged videotapes. Some commend it for its "eeriness" - a trait I failed to find - and the imaginative direction given a low budget. I am not real fond of the film, which, despite looking good (it was shot in a crisp 35mm black and white) is uninvolving and not eerie enough (Pittsburgh resident George Romero did a lot more with the concept just a few years later). The supporting cast is tossed in there haphazardly without consideration for the plot or their function - the sleazy next door neighbor is dropped and forgotten, the doctor pops up at the most opportune time, the priest fires the lead actress for no real reason. Interestingly enough, the Criterion people, who used pieces of the movie for the Menu items on the DVD, have a better idea of how to set a spooky atmosphere than Harvey did! The Criterion Collection included two discs, each packed with documentaries, samples of Harvey's work in Industrial film, and elaborate commentary by the director and his screenwriter - all of which are more compelling than the movie itself.