I wanted to take a look at something a little more under the radar than other much more famous titles I have on this list. 'Carnival of Souls' is one of those low budget titles that has gained a massive cult following over the years, and is often regarded nowadays as one of the all-time great horror movies. I must say, I can get where some of that is coming from, but for the most part, I'm not sure I understand what makes it so good.
As the film opens somewhere in Kansas, we loosely meet Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), as one of three women attempting a drag race against a few guys. During this race, they get to a bridge, and the women's car plummets into the river below. The police search for them, but the only one they manage to find is Mary, who has miraculously survived and pulled herself to land. She is later hired as a church organist in Salt Lake City, and while headed there, she starts to see visions of a strange, pasty-faced man (Herk Harvey). She also spots an abandoned pavilion along the shoreline which she finds out was carnival before it closed. When she attempts to explore it, though, the minister of the church that employed her stops her, telling her it would be illegal.
In the meantime, she meets the only other lodger where she's staying, John Linden (Sidney Berger) and develops a bit of friendship with him, although the guy is quite the horn dog, and a few more real-life horrors are sprinkled in there with him as well. She also keeps seeing this creepy mysterious man, and if that's not enough, soon experiences moment in which she might as well not exist - people cannot see nor hear her. There's also some sort of magnetism for her towards the abandoned pavilion, and the big question is what does it all mean?
Although the film is widely regarded nowadays as a cult classic horror, I must confess that I can't really climb on board that train. To the film's credit, a lot of the imagery is pretty disturbing for the time, especially considering 'Night of the Living Dead' wasn't a thing yet, and this portrays some ghoulish, zombie types. On top of that, I have to admit that there was something I liked about how it all ended. It may have been a risk move for something today, but back then, it counts as something pretty original. However, unfortunately for yours truly, not much about the ending made up for how much I felt the film dragged - even for a film not even an hour and a half long. But I wanna consider that more of a nitpick on my part, as clearly there's something people dig about this movie.
The film's only real overall problem for me were the characters. In order for me to appreciate a lot of films, I need to be able to relate somewhat to the lead, or at least one other major character. Truth be told there was no one here that really stood out, and the character of Mary is one of the least likable horror heroines I can think of. Everything she does is in a confused daze, and she's almost zombie like. To be fair, that may have been the point, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have to enjoy it. In my humble opinion, the characters in the film only really helped things to drag. The only character I even remotely liked was "The Man", who was genuinely creepy, acting with only looks. But he's only just there to pose, leaving me with not much to route for either way.
On that note, please don't let me ruin it for you just because I wasn't a fan. Opinions are bound to differ, and this movie made many "Top Horror Film" lists for a reason that perhaps I'm not entirely in tune with. It certainly has its place among classic horror titles. I liked moments of this movie, but as a whole, it's not something I'd see going on my Top 10 or even Top 20 all-time horror lists anytime soon. This is another one of those titles that has my respect for what it was for its time, as well as its cult following. But personally, I'm not really a fan of it, and would sooner watch something else.