CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1998) Reviews and overview

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‘Enter at your own risk!’

Carnival of Souls aka Wes Craven Presents Carnival of Souls is a 1998 American horror feature film and a very loose remake of Herk Harvey’s 1962 cult classic film of the same name.

Co-directed by Adam Grossman (Sometimes They Come Back… Again) and Ian Kessner from a screenplay written by the former, the Trimark Pictures production stars Bobbie Phillips, Shawnee Smith, Larry Miller and Paul Johansson.


When she was just a child, Alex Grant (Bobbie Phillips) watched her mother die at the hands of Louis Seagram (Larry Miller), a sadistic carnival clown. Alex knows that Louis will be getting out of prison, and she fears for the safety of her herself and younger sister, Sandra (Shawnee Smith).

One day, Louis attacks Alex in her car and forces her to drive into a river. Although she survives the incident, she grows increasingly disoriented and starts experiencing strange hallucinations…


“That the otherworldly Miller harasses the adult Phillips Freddie Krueger-style, accompanied by what appear to be monsters leftover from Jacob’s Ladder (a film that owes more than a little to the original Carnival), lends the whole thing a creepy, exploitative feel that would probably be excusable if the movie were any good. But it’s not…” Keith Phipps, AV Club

“If you’ve seen the original Carnival of Souls, you know how the remake ends; it’s the only thing they have in common. In the meantime, a great number of nonsensical things occur, many of them only in Alex’s head, some of them in real life, and too many of them involving visions of Louis…” Eric D. Snyder

” …a bad remake and an arrogant one too. It has the audacity to adopt the title of a beloved older film but then substitutes weak ideas for the powerful ones of the original […] This remake fails on all fronts.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1990s, McFarland, 2011

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“Painted in the loud, plastic colors of the mid-to-late 1990s, the film is engrossing in a superficial way. Where the original film mesmerized, the remake tries hard to compel with its stream of questions and subplots. With enough going on too, at least, make things interesting, it all almost works.” Travis Lytle, Letterboxd

“It features numerous sewn-shut face creatures and reality/dream intrusions, but none that amount to anything memorable […] Adam Grossman blurs the line of reality and hallucination so frequently it is impossible to make any sense whatsoever out of what happens in the film.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“So, after several visions (dreams?!) of Larry Miller and the demons from Jacob’s Ladder, Alex has the inevitable showdown with the dastardly comedian (at a carnival, of all places), and all the pieces fall together to form a shocking conclusion!!! My conclusion? This movie blows.” J. Bannerman, Stomp Tokyo

“Though filled with modern-day horror contrivances, Grossman’s film evokes none of the haunting atmosphere that distinguished Herk Harvey’s eerily timeless original.” TV Guide

Cast and characters:

  • Bobbie Phillips … Alex Grant
  • Shawnee Smith … Sandra Grant
  • Larry Miller … Louis Seagram
  • Paul Johansson … Michael
  • Cleavant Derricks … Sid
  • Henry G. Sanders … Officer Soby
  • Brendan Dillon … Henry (as Brendan Thomas Dillion)
  • Anna K. McKown … Elaine (as Anna Kristen McKown)
  • Raquel Beaudene … Young Alex
  • Tiffanie Ann Taylor … Young Sandra
  • Joseph S. Griffo Joseph S. Griffo … Photographer
  • Robert LaSardo … Candyman (as Robert A. LaSardo)
  • Mark Paskell … Clown
  • Ellen Albertini Dow … Mrs Meltzer
  • Andrew Craig … Worker

Technical details:

  • 90 minutes
  • Audio: Stereo
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

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