Sunday, October 28, 2007


Sometimes when I'm feeling scared I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad. So while watching a frightening movie, I sometimes reflect upon my favorite TV show of all time to help me get through it. :)

CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962, directed by Herk Harvey) is an haunting and mesmerizing film. The story opens with a wild battle-of-the-sexes drag race between a car full of rowdy young men and a trio of sassy chicks. The girls don't fare so well when their car plunges off a bridge into a river. Three hours later, after the rescue team gives up hope, one of the girls, Mary Henry, a church organist (brilliantly played by the beautiful Candace Hilligoss) appears - she somehow survived! This world is awfully big, and girl this time you're all alone.

We are then treated to a magnificent organ concert performed by Mary - who we learn is kinda bitchy for a church lady. She seems to snap at everyone and treats everything around her with indifference. Not to mention that her two friends just died. Well it's you girl, and you SHOULD know it, with each glance and every little movement you show it.

Mary soon heads to Salt Lake City, Utah where a new job playing organ at a church awaits her. Let's just pretend she's going to work at a local TV station as an associate producer for a news show. During her drive she passes a large, mysterious structure by a lake - and she suddenly sees a creepy zombie-like man (we'll just call him "Murray Slaughter") in her passenger window. His image really is quite chilling - much like Gavin MacLeod in whiteface.

As the story continues, we meet Mary's nosy landlady Mrs. Thomas, um Lindstrom (who doesn't mind if Mary takes a lot of baths) and her horny drunken neighbor Mr. Linden, er Rhoda? (who likes his coffee with booze cause it makes him happy). Her interactions with these two are somewhat awkward. Mary doesn't even thank Phyllis for fixing her a meal. What a bitch!

Mary soon meets her new boss, Rev. Lou Grant - and he seems to like her spunk. She asks the minister about the building by the lake. He tells her it was an old bath house (not THAT kind of bath house!) that was later transformed into a carnival, but is now abandoned. He even drives out there with her to see it. Murray begins appearing everywhere Mary goes. The next day, while shopping for a smart little black dress (at Hempel's?) Mary becomes invisible and inaudible to everyone around her in the department store, as if she isn’t there!!! And she doesn't even shoplift! You CAN have a town, why don't you take it?

Mary begins experiencing mood swings as Murray's presence becomes more and more prevalient. No one else can see him, but we can!!! (Unfortunately) When sipping water from a fountain in a park, Mary sees Murray standing over her, drops her purse and runs smack into another man - who turns out to be a doctor - who immediately tries to help her. After unloading her bag of bullshit on Dr. Samuels, he tells her that she should face her fears. Like that carnival pavilion for starters. It's time you started LIVING - It's time you let someone else do some giving!!!

The next night, while practicing hymns alone in church, Mary falls into a trance and her music suddenly transforms from beautiful church hymns to a creepy demonic dirge. Visions of stained glass images give way to zombie-like ghouls emerging from the lake that begin to dance in a ballroom. Murray approaches her, but then Rev. Lou Grant appears suddenly - declaring her music a sacrilege and tells her she has a "lack of soul" and she's fired! Turns out he hates spunk! He then he tells her that the church can help her. She totally dissmisses him and meets up with her horny neighbor for a date. Love IS all around, no need to waste it .

Mr. Linden/Rhoda wants Mary in the worst way - but she just wants somebody around to protect her from Murray. The more Rhoda tries to get close to her, the more she resists. But she doesn't want to be alone. When they are finally alone back at house, Mary freaks out and Rhoda declares that Mary's a crazy chick. Mary then rearranges the furniture in her room to keep Murray out. Just be sure to keep your head, Cause girl you know that's ALL you need.

The next day, Mary decides to leave Salt Lake City, but her car has transmission trouble - so she pulls into an auto body shop where she decides to stay in the car while it is being repaired on the lift. Of course, Murray shows up and she escapes from the car - and tries taking a bus outta town only to find that all of the passengers are zombies!!! Invisible again to everyone, she winds up at Dr. Samuels' office again - only when he turns around he's Murray!!!

She then wakes up in the car - and drives out of the gas station to the Carnival pavilion where she is chased down by the pack of zombie people. The minister, the doctor, and the police all arriving at the pavilion to investigate, but only find her car, her footprints in the sand and no body. GULP!

The film’s final scene, however, shows us what has been Mary's secret all along: She's NOT gonna make it after all ...

This film is amazing. See it. 10 outta 10. Then watch MARY TYLER MOORE to erase the creepiness.


Anonymous said...

I just saw this over the weekend for the first time! :) - Peter

Ricky said...

Wow - next time I watch this I'm gonna think about Mary Ricahards!