Carnival of Souls
Director: Adam Grossman
Written by: Adam Grossman
Weapon of Choice: Car
Based upon: nothing
Other movies in this series:
Touted as "Wes Craven Presents: Carnival of Souls," this was a remake of the 1962 cult classic that I really liked. Before I watched it, I was quoted as saying, "If Wes Craven presents it, it's got to be good!"
And, well, it wasn't awful, that much is certain. But not much more is. According to my sources (Javier the bookie, Martin the law student, Spencer for hire, and Antony, the guy at the hot dog stand who REALLY likes to touch the dogs), this is one of the most reviled horror movies of recent years. Some say that this is among the worst films ever made. So why did I rent it? I didn't . . . I bought it.
When Alex was a little girl, her mother was killed in front of her by her abusive boyfriend, who worked as a clown in a carnival. When she crosses paths with him again, years later, she begins experiencing disorienting, frightening visions and flashbacks.
Alex is played Bobbie Phillips, a hot, sad-eyed woman, who not only gives a nice performance but looks a little bit like a combinatin of Anne Archer and Sharon Stone. Yup. Shawnee Smith (from the Blob remake, TV's "Becker," and one of my '80s favourites, Summer School) plays her carefree sister. Ellen Dow from The Wedding Singer plays a tiny part, but also provides a laugh. Also, Larry Miller plays the wife-beating, child-stroking, leering, clown makeup-wearing, bad guy.
The title is much more literal than the original, and I like that. The film was talky, but it had some nice moments, and the girl is so pretty it's not hard to keep watching. Oddly, there's a song in the middle of the film--a real, stop-the-movie-while-one-character-sings song. That doesn't happen a lot in Horror.
The film (or is it Alex?) jumps around in time like the last episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." But it's harder to figure out. Did she die? Is the area haunted? Is she personally haunted? Is she just going nuts? Am I for really liking this movie (at least for a while)? Well, the confusion and paranoia goes on just a little too long, with no satisfactory resolution. Some parts felt like they were ad-libbed, just to fill time.
The ending was unequivocally bad, though. It's clever in theory (since it's the same as the original's), but they didn't execute it so it made sense, or at least spell it out to explain what we had been seeing for the last hour. What did it all mean? In the original, you know, even if you knew an hour before they told you. The problem here, I think, was that the filmmaker didn't know exactly what the situation was--is Alex insane? Is she dead? Is she dreaming? Is she being plagued by demons?--if he did know, he decided not to explain it to the viewers. It's one thing to confuse or mislead the audience, but it's quite another to baffle and deceive and abandon them. And because the ending of the movie all adds up to nothing, I was left feeling the movie was the same. Too bad.
Best Scare: A scene with a creepy car wash was probably the scariest the movie got. But there are lots of pop-up spooks and scary flash visions.
Line To Remember: Hot babe Alex approaches an old woman behind the counter of a store.
Alex: I need a pump.
Old Woman: Don't we all? Heh, heh.
Total Skulls: 21
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Warning goes unheeded|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood spatters camera/wall/other|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|