Director: Adam Grossman
USA - 1998
I really hate that. Not only
does WCP: Carnival of Souls partake in this cinematic cop-out, but does so
repeatedly. Again and again.
The heroine is being drowned in the sink, then suddenly she isnt
was it all
The heroine is being chased through a carnival by a rottweiler and a bellowing fat guy,
then suddenly she isnt
was it all a dream?
The heroine is "gettin her groove on" with some weirdo she hardly knows
on a boat, then suddenly she isnt
was it all a dream?
Man, is that annoying. But basically, this is what WCP: Carnival of Souls is all
Alex Grant is troubled. As a little girl, Alex witnessed the brutal rape of her mother
by a carnival clown (comedian Larry Miller). When she feebly tried to interfere, the clown
ended up breaking her mothers neck.
Now, Ive seen Larry Miller do stand-up a long time ago, and I remember thinking
that he was pretty funny funny, that is, in a good way. Here, Larry is still
funny - but now in a bad way. Never once throughout the film did I buy into the
premise that Larry Miller was a psychotic killer clown. Every time he did something
"evil" I thought, "Come on! Thats Larry Miller!" It was
similar to the experience I had watching Schindlers List. Every time Liam
Neeson was onscreen I thought, "Come on, you wuss, turn into Darkman and kick some
Nazi butt!" It was quite disenchanting.
To get back to the point, Larry (his name is Louis Seagram in the movie, but lets
just call him Larry) kills Alexs mother, traumatizes Alex, and gets sent to prison
(due solely to Alexs testimony, of course). Alex, in turn, grows up to be a troubled
adult - haunted by her past. She now runs her late mothers bar (The Blue Dolphin,
the Amazing Lungfish, or something like that), along with her little sister Sandra and
some guy named Sid. Things seem to be going well for Alex until one day she is carjacked
by - you guessed it, none other than Larry Miller!
It just so happens Larry had been paroled and now wants revenge for being sent to the
Big House. So with a gun to her head, Larry orders Alex to drive to a local abandoned
funhouse - to have fun, I presume. Upon arrival, Larry takes a break from ogling Alex to
admit his intentions of "having his way" with young Sandra sometime in the near
future. Alex, nobly, replies something to the effect of "Stay away from my little
sister, you big jerk!" and then drives both herself and Larry Miller off a pier and,
naturally, into a river from which only Alex surfaces - or does she?!
Was it all a dream?! At this point, the anticipation was killing me. Really.
Without as much as a police investigation, Alex returns to work at Octagonal Sunfish.
Business as usual, except now Alex is plagued by visions of Larry. Being drowned in the
sink by Larry. Was it a dream? Larry taunting her from a mirror. Was it a dream? Alex sees
red balloons everywhere, just like the kind Larry had as a clown at the carnival!! Are they
just a dream? Ugh.
Along with the numerous Larry sightings, Alex is also plagued by visions of screaming demons. Actually, theyre more like
oinking demons I mean, they truly sound like piglets. She first sees them at a
carwash (Carwash of Souls, no doubt), and then repeatedly throughout the course of the
film. These, might I add, are a DIRECT RIP-OFF of Jacobs Ladder.
Its not even subtle. Upon witnessing the first demon encounter, I immediately jumped
up and exclaimed, "Hey! Theyre ripping off Jacobs Ladder!" To
which my (then) girlfriend heartily agreed, and shes always right! Okay, I
may not have jumped up, but I did shriek aloud.
So, after several visions (dreams?!) of Larry Miller and the demons from Jacobs
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 movies blows.
* A mouthful isnt it? Wes Craven Presents: Carnival of Souls. I know
its rather wordy, but this is how I must refer to the film in order to totally
disassociate it with the original (and thus maintain a clear conscience). I do not want
people to mistakenly coincide this movie, nor this review, with the original in any way.
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman