Carnival of Souls (1998)

“The film follows Bobbie Phillips, who after a horrifying experience as a child, where she saw a man rape and kill her mother. Then 20 years later, she continues to get haunted by the killer who everyone believes to be dead. But she continues to revisit the carnival, where he used to work.

Well, this film is based on a 1962 Heck Harvey film, of the same name. But is very loosely based upon it. As it is, in most ways not at all like it.

For instance the original spent a good 40 minutes or so just creating atmosphere and ended up being really quite creepy and it had it’s moments of charm and then also had some fairly spooky Hitchcockian style moments and it inspired George A Romero to make Night of the Living Dead. And after you hear that statement you do have to wonder, why would you remake a film that important and good? It would be like remaking Jaws. Also the horrifying experience that the main character has in the original is a car accident that makes her leave town. So I will leave you to make up the difference between rape and a car crash.

So the original spent about 40 minutes before anything really creepy or supernatural happens, but with this one, almost immediately something spooky happens, and you want it to be consistently like this. But it isn’t, the scares will come, then about ten minutes later they’ll be a lesser scare, then about 10 minutes after that, there’s another scare. It just plods along being, not very scary or creepy enough to be a proper horror. But having said that, it is a proper horror, but in an obvious cliche ridden way, in which the characters themselves should realize, ‘hey, this is a horror movie’.

And having mentioned that it’s not creepy, it really isn’t. The main antagonist that killed Bobbie Phillips’s mum and continues to haunt the lead character, is played by Larry Miller. Now, Larry Miller is one of those actors that everyone recognizes and no one knows the name of. So when you see him you are genuinely surprised to see him, 1) Because he only ever seems to be in Gary Marshal films and 2) Because he really doesn’t suit the role. To really point out who he is, he played the dad in 10 Things I Hate About You and he also played Pablo in Princess Diaries. So this man, who is supposed to be playing this Tim Curry, IT style clown that is haunting Bobbie Phillips, just really isn’t creepy. But it’s not like he is the only haunting thing in the film. Every now and then, these strange, lipless bald ghouls spazz out at the camera, and they are really quite terrifying. Best way to describe how they look, is a cross between the Pale man in Pan’s Labyrinth and that scene in Hell Boy, where John Hurt performs the autopsy on Carl Rupert Kronen. So these things are scary, but for some reason Wes Craven and Adam Grossman feel the need to constantly come back to Larry Miller for the scares and he just, isn’t scary. So it just doesn’t act on it’s strengths and just plays with it’s weaknesses.

Also, Paul Johansson play’s this pretentious creep that is never truly explained.

I know it sounds odd to criticize a remake for being unoriginal, but you could really tare this apart for ripping other films off, for instance there’s the Shinning, IT, Nightmare on Elm Street and even at one point Bill and Ted, as there’s one scene that just, is the hell they end up in in Bogus Journey.

But the really annoying thing about this one is that, there is a repetitive use of dream sequences. Every time something bad happens, she just wakes up somewhere screaming and then’ll wake up again a few seconds later.

You just do’t care  or have enough invested with the characters to care about the ending. Which did work in the original, but just doesn’t here. So I did spend the entire film wanting every character to die, but unfortunately it’s one of those ‘horrors’ with a body count of two, so I was brutally disappointed.”


It’s not terrible. But it isn’t any good. It’s actually pretty rubbish.

Just watch this version:

Best Line in the Film: Well it has to be “Gottcha” . Genuinely said by a midget that runs on and off screen. Twice.


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