MY FAVOURITE HORROR MOVIE: SIMON RUMLEY
Empire Magazine once called SIMON RUMLEY 'one of the most important and intelligent British Directors working today.' And it isn't hard to see why. Capable of switching between drama and thriller, Rumley is also responsible for a selection of impressive horror flicks, including The Living and the Dead (2006), Red White & Blue(2010) and a segment of The ABC's of Death (2012). Rumley's newest feature, Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word will also get it's UK premiere at this year's Frightfest festival in a couple of week's time. Here he talks about his memories of 60's mystery horror...'Carnival of Souls' (1963).
It's almost impossible to chose an all time favourite horror film and my selection changes sporadically. As much as I like more obvious films like The Exorcist, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc, I feel these are perennially over represented in Top Ten lists so I always try to go for something a little less known. I saw first saw Carnival of Souls at London's ICA in the 1990s and had no idea what to expect; I'd never heard of it before but was attracted to its title, which, back then was enough of a reason to check something out. In spite of its subject matter (three girls crash a car into a river and only one comes out alive but she's mentally affected by the experience) Carnival of Souls has a bizarrely fuzzy and warm feeling to it. To expect screams and shouts and violence aplenty is to be disappointed; it's more of a ghost story than anything, more of a contemplative tract on life after death, a mood undeniably helped by the church-like organ score throughout.
Comparing this 1963 film to George Romero's seminal classic of '68 is like comparing Iggy and The Stooges to the Sex Pistols; the former heavily influenced the latter but didn't change the world in the same way. Although they both feature zombies, Romero concentrated more on feelings of dread, raw viscera and the core components of horror, whilst director Herk Harvey was more interested in the creation of a dreamlike, surreal atmosphere which embraces the weird rather than, for the most part, the scary. In this respect Harvey's low budget indie is more obvious an influence on the out-there wanderings of Lynch than the career zombie-thon of Romero although, in fact, he inspired both. The most magical scene is also one of the more unusual scenes in film history. Set in the Saltair Pavillion by Salt Lake City, it was whilst driving past this abandoned building when he was on holiday that Harvey was inspired to try his hand at feature directing (he made industrial films in Kansas for a living). Inside, our heroine witnesses a unique zombie waltz; although it still scares her, and is undeniably strange, there's something ethereal and quiescent about it, something that almost lays to rest her fear about dying…Momentarily…But then the dream turns into a nightmare and the undead stop dancing and start chasing her so even in the most charming of horror films, bad things still happen. An interesting thing about this film is that, much like The Night of The Living Dead, it's out of copyright and in the public domain meaning that not only is it free to watch on youtube but also sequences are free to use in other media. Scenes from Carnival of Souls therefore appears, to date, in three of my features; Red White & Blue, Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word and the upcoming Fashionsta. Check it out!