Carnival of Souls: Creating Horror On A Low Budget

By | October 26, 2021

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Source: (IMDb).

In 1961, Herk Harvey was working for Centron, an industrial and educational film company. He was driving home to Lawrence, Kansas, when he stopped to explore the Saltair Pavilion outside Salt Lake City, Utah. The pavilion, which was an abandoned ballroom, inspired Harvey. Later, he called his friend John Clifford, to ask him to write a screenplay based on the pavilion. The only restriction was the final scene, which would feature the ghouls dancing in the ballroom. Within three weeks, Clifford had written Carnival of Souls, the story of Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), a survivor of a car accident after a drag race. 

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Source: (YouTube).

Mary Encounters The Pavilion

After the accident, Mary moves to Utah, where she has taken a job playing the organ in a church. During the ride through the desert, her radio will only play organ music and she starts to have visions of a strange, ghoulish man, only called “the Man.” She also glimpses the abandoned pavilion on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, and she learns from a gas station attendant that it had been a bathhouse, then a dancehall, and, before it closed, a carnival. Once in Utah, Mary rents a room in a boarding house, and the proprietor informs her that there is one other boarder. Eventually, Mary meets this other boarder, Mr. Linden (Sidney Berger), a creepy man who is determined to become better acquainted with Mary even after she initially rebuffs him. After unpacking her suitcase, Mary goes to the church where she will be playing the organ. The minister drives her out to get a closer look at the pavilion, and when she is tempted to enter and explore, the minister informs her that it would be illegal.