Classic Horror Film Carnival of Souls

(Frank) Having fun on our Halloween Show. (Deb) I’d have more fun with candy. (Frank) We have no candy. (Deb) I know. We went to the door and they just slammed it. Yes, no treats. (Frank) Aren’t you a little old? Well yes. (Deb) Yes, really, aren’t you a little old? (Frank) I’m in my second childhood. Does that count? (Deb) I might be in my third or fourth childhood by now. Or some people just don’t grow up. That could be. That could count for it, too. (Frank) Yes, if you don’t grow up by the time you’re 60 you don’t have to. (Deb) Why bother? That’s exactly right. Why bother? We’ve got a really cool film and Frank and I both know a lot of people in the film industry and have been involved in a lot of entertainment topics or things over the years. Carnival of Souls is one of those classics and you actually had friends who were in that? (Frank) Yes. Well they’re Lawrence actors and all that. Yes they were in this movie. It’s really a strange, strange movie. (Deb) It is a strange movie. I know that they filmed part of it on the old Lecompton Bridge. Not the new bridge over the Kaw River, but the old Lecompton Bridge. Folks who grew up in that area, Perry-Lecompton, recognize a lot of folks in the movie. There were a lot of the locals who were spectators standing on the bridge as they pull the car out. The premise is the girl goes over the bridge into the water. There were a lot of people in that. We’ve got some great film connections in Kansas don’t we? Some really cool stuff. (Frank) There have been a lot of movies made in the State of Kansas. (Deb) We did those, what, 30 segments on the movie Picnic that you did Frank? Something like that. (Frank) It went on and on. It was like, “And now, here’s another segment on Picnic. (Deb) Kim Novak and William Holden, heck, you can go on and on about that. We have a lot of movies other than Picnic that have some really cool Kansas connections. Let’s take a look at this one. Herk Harvey was born in Colorado and attended KU where he studied film, and later taught at the university. Though he made more than 400 films, he is best known for the horror classic, Carnival of Souls. Released in 1962, the film was partially filmed in Lawrence and Lecompton. Harvey died in 1996 and the film database,, has some insightful quotes from the versatile filmmaker. In 1990, he was asked about how he first came up with the idea for Carnival of Souls. I was on location in California shooting an industrial film for Centron, and decided to travel home by car. Driving back I was passing Salt Lake, and I saw for the first time an abandoned amusement park called Saltair. Well, with the sun setting and with the lake in the background, this was the weirdest-looking place I’d ever seen! I stopped the car and walked about a half or three-quarters of a mile to the place, and it was spooky indeed. And I thought, Gee, what a tremendous location because it’s completely isolated from everything and everybody. I came back and talked to John Clifford, who was a writer at Centron and a co-worker, and told him that I needed a horror script that would revolve around Saltair. So basically in talking we came up with some of the general plot, and he wrote the script in a matter of a couple weeks. When asked if he was glad that the horror movie was his claim to fame, he replied: I have to say yes and no. When you work someplace for 35 years making educational and industrial films, and the one feature that you make is really what you’re known for, a film on which you spent a total of maybe five weeks, that to me doesn’t seem right. Some of the things I’m much more proud of, we did in the industrial area. We shot hour-long films in two days, musicals with people like Eddie Albert and Ed Ames and so on. Some of those with skits and original music and all that are really kind of interesting. And I think that many of the other films that we made in the educational and industrial area really had something to say. Yet, as you say, I’m known for Carnival of Souls. Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 stars out of four, stating, Unlike most of today’s horror movies, Carnival of Souls has few special effects, some wavy lines as we pass through various levels of existence, and that’s it. Instead, it depends on crisp black-and-white photography, atmosphere and surprisingly effective acting. Carnival of Souls has a cult following and is a traditional Halloween treat for lots of folks.
(Frank) Well, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. And this broom is just made for one Frank. (Frank) I know, so off you go. (Deb) Off I go. (Frank) Bye.