Made by industrial filmmakers on a small budget, the eerily effective B-movie classic Carnival of Souls was intended to have “the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau”—and, with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score, it succeeds.

Originally broadcast on 23rd June, 1991 at 10:10pm.

Herk Harvey’s macabre masterpiece gained a cult following on late-night television and continues to inspire filmmakers today.

Alex Cox said: “Carnival of Souls is about a cynical church organist who… I can’t tell you any more about the story. You have to see it for yourself. It’s really strange. It certainly had a tremendous effect on George Romero, whose Night of the Living Dead resembles it in tone and zombie physiognomy. It has the strange matter-of-fact quality of Honeymoon Killers. There is a touch of Ambrose Bierce’s Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge about it, but in tone it’s not particularly Gothic or Lovecraftian. Overt weird stuff is kept to a minimum and an extremely strange sort of horror film emerges: one where you’re never quite sure whether the sound is missing by accident or for some chilling reason; whether certain characters are ‘off’ because they’re amateurs or because they’re demons; whether the man across the hall is really just a sleazy, obnoxious oaf or… you don’t even know what. You can’t predict what twists and turns Carnival of Souls is going to take. That’s what’s so good about it.”

One of those unique horror movies where the low budget, gritty footage and rough performances combine to create not only an unsettling atmosphere of dread but also a study of existential angst in the face of unimaginable horror.

Matt Brunson