CARNIVAL OF SOULS
The director is Adam Grossman who previously made the extremely silly Sometimes They Come Back ... Again (1996) and has failed to do anything subsequently. Not too surprisingly, the remake lacks all the things that made the original work so well. For one, it abandons black-and-white for colour and shoots in a California coastal town rather than the banal, smalltown Utah locations the original chose. Thus this Carnival looks like any other contemporary horror movie whereas the sheer ordinariness of the original in comparison to its contemporaries made it seem unique. Moreover, this is a Carnival of Souls that comes too much in the shadow of the A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and the Hellraiser (1987) makeup effects driven horror film. It features numerous sewn-shut face creatures and reality/dream intrusions, but none that amount to anything memorable. (Although there is one good scene where the heroine goes to visit her psychologist of several months only to be told he has never seen her before).
The remake appropriates various images from the original such as the car crash off the bridge, the sinister man following the heroine and the carnival itself. Unfortunately, where the original wound its happenings into a highly effective deathdream revelation, the remake makes no sense whatsoever. It adds a banal plot about The Man now being a pedophiliac clown from the heroines childhood. While the film hints at her having done horrible things and possibly having been responsible for killing the clown, it offers absolutely no answers. We are not even certain whether the scene where she drove off the pier with him in the car was dream, reality or hallucination as the film contradicts what it says about this at other points. In fact, Adam Grossman blurs the line of reality and hallucination so frequently it is impossible to make any sense whatsoever out of what happens in the film.
Bobbie Phillips, an actress whose career has wavered between bimbo parts and serious drama, is bland and not up to carrying the lead role. One was reminded one far too much of Larry Millers comedy roles, notably as the hamster-raped dean in The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), to take seriously. He plays rather campily. However, there is a surprisingly good performance from Shawnee Smith, once the heroine in The Blob (1988). She is never better than when she gets to sing and in her own voice too.
(Winner in this sites Worst Films of 1998 list).