Saturday, December 22, 2007

29th December 2006: Happy New Year's Horror double!

Carnival Of Souls

USA 1962 b&w

aka Corridors Of Evil

Director Herk Harvey Writer John Clifford

Cast Candace Hilligoss (Mary Henry), Frances Feist (Mrs. Thomas), Sidney Berger (John Linden), Art Ellison (Minister), Herk Harvey ('The Man')

Some people just don’t belong in the world of the living, and this idea is beautifully expressed in Schlock Treatment’s New Year Horror double with a difference.

First up is a true cult horror masterpiece from 1962. Carnival Of Souls was helmed by Herk Harvey, a filmmaker who, along with scriptwriter John Clifford, made over 400 industrial training films such as “Pork: The Meal With A Squeal” and “What About Alcoholism?”. This was their one and only feature before their exhibitor ran off to Europe with the meagre profits. A deliberately arty exercise in tension and atmosphere, Carnival... opens with Candace Hilligoss miraculously surviving a chicken race off a bridge. Before long she leaves for a small mid-western town to play church organ, where she is haunted by visions of a lakeside dancehall crammed with the damned and the demented.

It’s an eccentric film which truly occupies its own corner of film history; like George A. Romero’s pioneering Sixties horror classic Night Of The Living Dead (1968) its unsettling visuals are beautifully photographed in black and white, and the reoccurring image of the Dead Man (played by director Harvey) predates the raccoon eyes and dimestore suit look of Romero’s zombies by at least six years. If you’re like me and into paranoia, sexual repression and dislocation from reality, you’re going to flip over the no-budget pretentiousness of Carnival Of Souls.

Lisa And The Devil

Italy 1973 colour

aka Lisa E Il Diavolo, The House Of Exorcism, La Casa Dell'Esorcismo, The Devil And The Dead, The Devil In The House Of Exorcism

Director Mario Bava Writers Mario Bava, Alberto Cittini, Alfredo Leone

Cast Telly Savalas (Leandro), Elke Sommer (Lisa Reiner), Sylva Koscina (Sophia Lehar), Alessio Orano (Max) Gabriele Tinti (George), Eduardo Fajardo (Francis Lehar)

Second is a startling and perverse concoction of sex, sadism, guilt and repression from the master of Italian gothic horror, Mario Bava, who practically invented the genre with his iconic 1960 demonic thriller Black Sunday. By the early Seventies it was horror films, and particularly the Continental ones, which were pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable to show on screen. In Lisa And The Devil (1972), Bava throws in incest, necrophilia and a truly surreal, nightmarish story of a young girl (striking German beauty Elke Sommer, also in Bava’s Baron Blood) who is separated from her tourist party and ends up in a creepy Italian mansion with a disfunctional family and their lollypop-sucking butler (TVs Kojak, Telly Savalas) who may or may not be Satan.

Forgive the misleading title “Schlock Treatment”, as Lisa And The Devil is not your typical 70s schlock horror. It’s deeply disturbing on so many levels, revealing a true master at work. If you think you may have seen something similar, producer Leone shot extra footage of Elke Sommer puking on a priest to cash in on the Exorcist craze and retitled the even more confusing melange House Of Exorcism. Here we are pleased to present the original and superior version - Mario Bava’s 1972 bizarro classic, Lisa And The Devil.

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