Wes Craven Presents: Carnival of Souls

Director: Adam Grossman

USA - 1998

  Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!  

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I really hate that. NWould you like to touch Larry's monkey?ot 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 isn’t…was it all a dream?

The heroine is being chased through a carnival by a rottweiler and a bellowing fat guy, then suddenly she isn’t…was it all a dream?

The heroine is "gettin’ her groove on" with some weirdo she hardly knows on a boat, then suddenly she isn’t…was it all a dream?

Man, is that annoying. But basically, this is what WCP: Carnival of Souls is all about.

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 mother’s neck.

Larry Miller?

Now, I’ve 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! That’s Larry Miller!" It was similar to the experience I had watching Schindler’s 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.

I’m rambling.

To get back to the point, Larry (his name is Louis Seagram in the movie, but let’s just call him Larry) kills Alex’s mother, traumatizes Alex, and gets sent to prison (due solely to Alex’s testimony, of course). Alex, in turn, grows up to be a troubled adult - haunted by her past. She now runs her late mother’s 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 LThere's nothing particularly wacky about a clown with a sicklearry 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 The demons, happy to have some work after JACOB'S LADDER, enjoy a small siesta in-between takesscreaming demons. Actually, they’re 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 Jacob’s Ladder. It’s not even subtle. Upon witnessing the first demon encounter, I immediately jumped up and exclaimed, "Hey! They’re ripping off Jacob’s Ladder!" To which my (then) girlfriend heartily agreed, and she’s 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 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 movies blows.

No one will remain seated during the gripping "Larry Miller in a Balloon" scene

* A mouthful isn’t it? Wes Craven Presents: Carnival of Souls. I know it’s 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.

"Woo!"

 

-- Copyright 2000 by J. Bannerman

 

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