Carnival of Souls (Harvey, 1962):ICA Cinema, 8.30pm APOLOGIES: this film screens on Thursday and NOT Tuesday as originally published.
Here is the ICA introduction: A Nos Amours film club present a 35mm low budget zombie horror delight, with a delirious organ score by Gene Moore and unforgettable monochrome images from cinematographer Maurice Prather. Lynchian before Lynch, Romeroesque before Romero.
Herk Harvey was a director and producer of industrial and educational films working for for the Centron Corporation in Kansas, who specialised in films about venereal disease. He took a career break to make this his first and only feature film. He cast Strasberg-trained Candace Hilligoss in the lead, and shot Carnival of Souls in three weeks on location in Lawrence and Salt Lake City. Carnival of Souls is a horror film, but a horror film unlike any other; it is an auteur film by another name.
The film is introduced by Roger Clarke to celebrate the publication by Penguin Books of his A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof.
Time Out preview:
'The only survivor when a car plunges into a river, Mary Henry (Hilligoss) emerges on to a sandbank like a sodden sleepwalker. Shortly afterwards, en route to Utah to take up a job as a church organist, Mary is frightened by a ghostly apparition, a white-faced man whose repeated appearances seem mysteriously connected with an abandoned carnival pavilion. Other strange episodes, during which Mary seems to become invisible and inaudible to those around her, exacerbate her feeling that she has no place in this world. With its striking black-and-white compositions, disorienting dream sequences and eerie atmosphere, this has the feel of a silent German expressionist movie. Unfortunately, so does some of the acting, which suffers from exaggerated facial expressions and bizarre gesturing. But the mesmerising power of the carnival and dance-hall sequences far outweighs the corniness of the awkward intimate scenes; and as Mary, caught in limbo between this world and the next, dances to the discordant carnival music of time, the subsequent work of George Romero and David Lynch comes constantly to mind.' Nigel Floyd