By: Claudio “Secular Organist” Cortés
Before the sixth sense shocked the world with its “big reveal” there was the 1962 eerie classic, Carnival of Souls. Taking place in Utah at a time when a majority of its residents still believed that their religion forbade them from intermingling with Black people because their skin color was a curse from their invisible friend, this film stands the test of time. Very much like the Italian films of the era independent american horror directors were forced to rely on narratives that fit within the strict moral codes, practical effects, and the acting skills of their cast to tell a story and milk some freights out of their audience. Carnival of Souls accomplishes scaring the audience, not by jump scares, or Vincent Price-esque hitting you over the head with the theme, but by atmosphere building. On its surface Carnival of Souls could easily just be a story about an independent woman experiencing survivors guilt in the context of a society so steeped in the patriarchy that it would make “the honeymooners” look like it was written by Simone de Beauvoir (Mormon ass Utah).
After some hooning in a car with some friends goes wrong to the tune of plunging off of a bridge Mary washes ashore, a lone survivor. From this point on our professional organist and protagonist is haunted by the memory of the ones that she lost. Mary takes a job in the big city where she lives in a boarding house with what has to be the skeeziest man to have ever graced the silver screen. Although initially only haunted by memory of her dead friends, things soon begin to get real.
You can experience this film yourself and the big twist on Amazon Prime.
Today’s musical accompaniment is Mary Jane by Rick James, because….this song fucks and it has the name of the main character in the title, that’s why.
Keep up with the playlist as it builds Here