Repertory Picks

A Late-Night Classic in London

Next Wednesday evening, at the Regent Street Cinema in London, Criterion will conjure up Herk Harvey’s 1962 Carnival of Souls, screening from our newly released UK Blu-ray edition of the film, and introduced by critic and horror expert Kim Newman. The unsettling low-budget classic, the first and last feature film directed by veteran industrial filmmaker Harvey, manages to summon an eerie and enveloping atmosphere from the most meager of resources. Tapping into a rich vein of existential angst, and making excellent use of a singularly haunting organ score by Gene Moore, Harvey recounts the nightmarish tale of a car-crash survivor who moves across the country from Kansas to Utah, where she finds herself pursued by a ghostly figure and drawn to the site of an abandoned carnival. “The mutability of place and the disconnection from one’s sense of it form the central concern” of the film, writes Kier-La Janisse in her essay for our edition. “While two decades of experimental cinema had already been replicating dream states prior to its release, this . . . independent marvel was a pioneer of the purgatorial horror subgenre.”

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