Carnival of Souls has to be considered one of the great regionally-made zombie movies of all time. Actually, it is more than just your average low budget horror movie; it’s a truly creepy low budget horror movie. The early 1960s were still seeing a lot of William Castle style movies with gimmicks to lure in the viewing public. Tired gimmicks lead to a changing of the guard as a new low budget horror movie rebirth began. It is hard to say how influential this movie truly is. The slow pacing gives it a surreal, nightmarish quality, and while viewing it, a small whisper in your head tells you this movie can’t end happy.
The movie starts out with a drag race that goes awry and ends up killing an entire carload of girls, except for one. Candace Hilligoss portrays the survivor, Mary, as standoffish and totally indifferent to people, a woman who seems dead to everyone around her. Candace manages to play her role as though she’s really having a breakdown. After moving away to become a church organist, she discovers a strange man staring at her from various mirrors and windows. At random times, people treat Mary as though she were completely invisible. Mary tries everything she can think of to keep these episodes from happening. But, the strange man that menaces her isn’t alone, and more and more ghouls began to chase her. Finally she ends up at a nearby amusement park that may contain more answers than Mary can accept.