It's a shame when great films end up floating around the public domain, virtually forgotten by the masses. Herk Harvey's cult classic Carnival of Souls, however, is one you may never forget. The film relies on dramatic black-and-white photography and a dreamy atmosphere to conjure the horror beneath the everyday.
A young church organist's life is transformed after a car crash and she becomes haunted by a ghostly figure, played by the director himself. When Mary takes off to start her life anew, she moves into a rooming house where her landlady helps her settle in, much to the delight of her lecherous neighbor across the hall. But Mary isn't as interested in his advances as she is in an abandoned pavilion she feels inexplicably drawn to.
Carnival of Souls is often compared to Romero's Night of the Living Dead, as both were filmed by production companies specializing in commercial ventures on a modest budget (Souls was made for a mere $33,000). Romero has also cited the film as an influence. Despite being released six years before NOTLD, Souls is often overshadowed by its more obviously frightening counterpart. Harvey's ghouls are in many ways more terrifying though because of their ambiguity. They could be vampires, zombies ... death – all a twisted manifestation of Mary's psyche.