“CARNIVAL” BACK STORY
Ultra creepy 60s horror movie “Carnival of Souls” was lost and then resurrected in Europe before a late 80s revival here. The haunting image of the deserted dance pavillion at the Salt Lake Saltair inspired former University of Kansas (Lawrence) professor Herk Harvey to commission a script built around the pavillion. (This was before a fire destroyed the building.) Filming the closing scene in a freezing river water in Lawrence was an incredible ordeal, remembered by actress Candace Hilligoss in her memoir, “The Odyssey and the Idiocy.”
She was fired by her agent after he saw a preview in the 60s but found her fame when “Carnival” was revived in the 80s. Sidney Berger, a KU student, played the creepy lecher John Linden.
This project seemed doomed from the get-go, but thanks to Sweden and Germany it gained traction in the U.S. I saw it at the Campus Theater on Oaks St. near the U of M in the late 80s and loved it.
I bought the DVD on a trip to see Mike and Kim in Salt Lake City. The British Film Society lists “Carnival of Souls” as one of the 100 best movies of all time and Criterion has a restored DVD for $20.82. (Less expensive DVDs are available.) The film influenced a lot of horror movie directors.