Carnival of Soul (and Funk)

July 21st, 2011 · 3 Comments · By

There’s a film screening at JohnSarahJohn (that old auto shop full of weird knicknacks, across from Blue Moon on West Main St) this evening which should be a lot of fun; I’m disappointed to have to miss it myself, but I highly encourage you to attend! The film is “Carnival of Souls,” a legendary 1962 underground horror movie — one of those awesome ones that sort of comes out of nowhere and, despite its’ tiny budget, unknown cast, and inexperienced filmmakers, manages to channel some sort of weirdly idiosyncratic and deeply American personal visions into something memorably and creepy and unique (see also: Tod Browning’s “Freaks,” the original “Night of the Living Dead,” or arguably even “the Blair Witch Project,” not to mention more “artsy” filmmakers like Curtis Harrington.) It was filmed outside Salt Lake City, and was the sole fiction-feature credit of an industrial / educational filmmaker, and starred mostly local nonprofessionals (although the lead actress, who carries most of the films’ weight, was actually a Strassburg-trained stage actor). It’s one of those films that relies less on plotting or even characterization, and more on sustaining an intensely creepy atmosphere; despite the films’ charming rough edges, it often manages to be genuinely unsettling, sometimes hypnotically so. It is remembered today largely for its uniquely spooky church-organ soundtrack (which actually figures heavily into the plot; the protagonist is an itinerant church organist) and also for the fact that the film is in the public domain, so you can screen it without having to pay anyone for it. Tonight’s screening will actually have a live accompaniment by Matt Marshall, whom you might remember from some of the similar events he’s done with The Bridge and the Virginia Film Festival. It’s a sound film, so I’m not exactly sure how Matt’s playing is going to be incorporated with (or replace) the preexisting soundtrack, but I seem to recall that the sound design is largely sparse and has long stretches of silence, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. The screening starts at 7pm, and I’m not sure if there’s a cover charge or not.

Afterwards, if you are looking to have your “Soul” restored (sorry, sorry! I had to try and shoehorn that pun in there somewhere), you should definitely stop by The Box between 10pm and last call, for this event:

Robin Tomlin and Colin Powell will be doing their usual (excellent) Grits & Gravy thing, this time with the additional support of my friend Blair Amberly, who not only runs the local SpeakerTree Records label, but also possesses a deep wealth of knowledge about all things Soul, Funk, and Rap from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Blair doesn’t get out to DJ very much (though, somewhat uncharacteristically, he actually has three gigs this month!), so I’m excited for the chance to hear him spin as well. Also, there will be dancing. Perhaps you haven’t been sweating enough this week, and would like to do some more? The Box tonight is the place to do that. No cover, 21+.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Matt B // Jul 21, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I heard this was at 8:30pm via the facebook. Has it changed?

  • 2 James // Jul 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    oh! I can’t look at FaceBook posts, but the JSJ email said 7.

  • 3 James // Jul 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    apparently the screening was indeed around 8:30 — and, (as I suspected), Matt Marshall was only presenting the film, rather than scoring it. sorry for the misinfo, folks! the only source I had about this was a JohnSarahJohn email listing from about a month ago.

    that was an excellent Grits&Gravy, btw.