Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tenth Anniversary of Herk Harvey's Death

Yesterday (April 3rd) was the 10th anniversary of the death of Herk Harvey, the genius behind one of my all-time favorite scary movies, "Carnival of Souls." While Harvey produced/directed hundreds of educational films for the now-defunct Centron Corporation (several of which were mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000), he is best remembered--when at all--for Carnival.
Made in 1962, this black-and-white creepfest was made on a shoestring budget (about $30,000), has few special-effects shots (one, in fact), and contains no nudity, violence, gore, or even 4-letter words! Yet, spectacular camera work and direction combine with a very creepy all-organ soundtrack to create a very eerie cinematic experience in Harvey's only feature film.
Mary Henry (Candace Hilligloss) is the sole survivor of a deadly car accident. She takes a job as a church organist, but is haunted by a spectral man only she can see (Herk Harvey, pictured at top), and seems gradually to be losing her grip on reality. Who is this man, and why does she find herself magnetically drawn to a deserted amusement park? And why is this all so darn creepy?
Now, it's not a perfect film. It's done on the cheap. Some of the acting is kind of amateurish. It is kind of a slow starter, and occasionally predictable, but it's still a good watch. It seems to have influenced George Romero's original "Night of the Living Dead," (though it's much more subtle) as well as M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense." Paul Kessler has a much better and in-depth review here: http://www.horror-wood.com/carny.htm. Spoiler warning!
You can pick this baby up very inexpensively in the cheap dvd racks, typically paired with some other B&W horror film, or maybe you can rent it. Just make sure it's the 1962 version, and not the later 90s remake--which I understand is pretty awful.
Herk Harvey, I miss you. You may be dead, but you still haunt my nightmares!

Listening to: "Elohim: Messianic Praise & Worship," various artists


fool4god said...

i though that was my job

Allen said...

Well, among the living, that can still be your job!
Thanks for stopping by!