Horror On The Lens: Carnival of Souls (dir by Herk Harvey)


Well, we’re nearly done with October and, traditionally, this is when all of us in the Shattered Lens Bunker gather in front of the television in Arleigh’s penthouse suite, eat popcorn, drink diet coke, and gossip about whoever has the day off.

Of course, after we do that, I duck back into my office and I watch the classic 1962 film, Carnival of Souls!

Reportedly, David Lynch is a huge fan of Carnival of Souls and, when you watch the film, it’s easy to see why.  The film follows a somewhat odd woman (played, in her one and only starring role, by Candace Hilligoss) who, after a car accident, is haunted by visions of ghostly figures.  This dream-like film was independently produced and distributed.  At the time, it didn’t get much attention but it has since been recognized as a classic and very influential horror film.

This was director Herk Harvey’s only feature film.  Before and after making this film, he specialized in making educational and industrial shorts (some of which we’ve watched on this very site), the type of films that encouraged students not to cheat on tests and employees not to take their jobs for granted.  Harvey also appears in this film, playing “The Man” who haunts Hilligoss as she travels across the country.

Enjoy Carnival of Souls!

And remember, don’t stop for any hitchhikers!

A Blast From The Past: Halloween Safety (dir by Herk Harvey)


Director Herk Harvey

Tomorrow, we will be sharing the classic film Carnival of Souls. That means that today, it’s for us to show our last Herk Harvey short film of the 2021 Horrorthon. And appropriately enough, it’s all about Halloween!

This short film was made in 1977, long after the release of Carnival of Souls. In it, safety tips are offered up to make sure that all the kids have a safe Halloween. Make sure you can see clearly, even if you’re wearing a mask. Don’t wear dark clothing. Grab a flashlight. Don’t trick or treat alone! Hey, it’s all good advice. And Herk Harvey seems like someone who knew a little something about having a good Halloween!

From 1977, here’s some lessons on Halloween Safety!

A Blast From The Past: Shake Hands With Danger (dir by Herk Harvey)


Director Herk Harvey

Since I’m going to be sharing Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls on Saturday, I’ve been preparing by showing some of the short films that Harvey directed before and after making his only feature. 1980’s Shake Hands With Danger was actually one of Harvey’s final films and, needless to say, it came out long after Carnival of Souls.

This short film is all about being safe while working with heavy machinery. If Candace Hilligoss had shown more caution, she wouldn’t have had to shake hands with danger in Carnival of Souls. See, it’s all connected! Welcome to the Herkiverse.

Here’s the film. Watch and learn:

A Blast From The Past: The Procrastinator (dir by Herk Havey)


Goddammit, Jean let everyone down again!

Jean is at the center of The Procrastinator, a short educational film from 1952.  Jean has a history of putting stuff off and letting down her friends, her parents, her peers, and probably the entire state of Kansas as well.  Still, despite the fact that Jean has repeatedly shown that she can’t be trusted with any responsibility, her fellow students decide to give her some responsibility.  When Jean continues to procrastinate, they all get mad at her but you know what?  Is it really Jean’s fault that they gave her a job that she obviously couldn’t handle?

What I’m saying is stop being so judgmental!  Everyone has their own way.  Some people get things done early.  Some people wait until the last minute.  And then there are people like me who make plans to do everything early but who still end up waiting until the last second regardless.  For example, my original plan for this year was to write all of my Horrorthon reviews in May and June and then spend October in a state of blissful relaxation.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  But, to be honest, I kind of enjoy the pressure of having to get things done at the last minute.  I do my best work under pressure, I think.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m sharing this video in October, it’s because this film was directed by Herk Harvey.  Harvey made a career out of directing short educational films but, to horror audiences, he’s best known for directing a classic horror film called Carnival of Souls.  Carnival of Souls is a film that I’ll be sharing in a few days.  On the surface, The Procrastinator may not appear to have much in common with Carnival of Souls.  However, I think you can compare Jean’s refusal to do things in a timely fashion to Candace Hilligoss’s refusal to accept the reason for why she keeps seeing ghosts following her everywhere she goes.  So, in way, both of these films take place in the same universe.  Call it the Herkiverse.

Watch and decide for yourself!

Horror On The Lens: Carnival of Souls (dir by Herk Harvey)


Well, we’re nearly done with October and, traditionally, this is when all of us in the Shattered Lens Bunker gather in front of the television in Arleigh’s penthouse suite, eat popcorn, drink diet coke, and gossip about whoever has the day off.

Of course, after we do that, I duck back into my office and I watch the classic 1962 film, Carnival of Souls!

Reportedly, David Lynch is a huge fan of Carnival of Souls and, when you watch the film, it’s easy to see why.  The film follows a somewhat odd woman (played, in her one and only starring role, by Candace Hilligoss) who, after a car accident, is haunted by visions of ghostly figures.  This dream-like film was independently produced and distributed.  At the time, it didn’t get much attention but it has since been recognized as a classic and very influential horror film.

This was director Herk Harvey’s only feature film.  Before and after making this film, he specialized in making educational and industrial shorts (some of which we’ve watched this month), the type of films that encouraged students not to cheat on tests and employees not to take their jobs for granted.  Harvey also appears in this film, playing “The Man” who haunts Hilligoss as she travels across the country.

Enjoy Carnival of Souls!

And remember, don’t stop for any hitchhikers!

A Blast From The Past: Understanding Others (dir by Herk Harvey)


In this short film from 1958, the high school press club is thrown into chaos when their faculty sponsor selects Ben Curtis to be the editor-in-chief of the school paper.

Bob Stevens can’t believe it, because Ben doesn’t have an outgoing personality and he doesn’t come from a rich family.  Ben, himself, is shocked because he feels like all of the other students are snobs who have no interest in being friendly.  But the teacher sees something in Ben.

Can everyone learn to understand each other and put out a worthy school paper?  Luckily, there’s a narrator present to encourage everyone to set aside their differences and …. understand.  Just in case we miss the film’s message, the same event is shown to us three separate times from three different points of view.

This film was directed by Herk Harvey.  Harvey directed a ton of educational films in the 50s and 60s.  However, he’s best known for directing one of the most important horror films of all time, Carnival of Souls!  I’ll be sharing Carnival of Souls tomorrow.  For now, try to understand others.

Enjoy!

A Blast From The Past: What About Juvenile Delinquency? (dir by Herk Harvey)


Well, what about it!?

Today’s Blast From The Past comes to use from 1955.  In this short film, a group of no-good 30 year-old high school students attack a middle-aged man who was just trying to drive home.  That man just happens to be the father of a member of the gang!  Now, due to the violence, the city council is considering a curfew!  That’s not fair to the good kids but what can be done about juvenile delinquency?

Watch and discuss.

This film was shot in Lawrence, Kansas and it was directed by Herk Harvey.  Harvey directed a ton of educational short films like this but horror fans will always know him before for directing Carnival of Souls.  I’ll be sharing Carnival of Souls soon.  For now, give some thought to delinquents!

A Blast From The Past: The Sound of a Stone (dir by Herk Harvey)


In this short film from 1955, a high school teacher in Kansas is wrongly accused of being a communist.  Despite the fact that he’s a Methodist Sunday School teacher, he made the mistake of assigning a book that was included on a list of subversive literature and, as a result, the entire town is turning against him!  While this short film might not win any points for subtlety (or good acting), it is an effective look at paranoia and how rumors get started.  I especially liked the shot of the spinning phone.

So, why am I sharing this in October?  Because this film was directed by Herk Harvey.  In the 50s and 60s, Harvey directed a countless number of short films.  Some of them were educational.  Some of them were industrial.  Some of them, like this one, were specifically made to be shown to civic groups.  However, horror fans will always know Harvery as the director of one of the most important horror films ever made, Carnival of Souls!

I’ll be sharing Carnival of Souls later this week.  For now, enjoy The Sound of a Stone!

 

A Blast From The Past: Manners in School (dir by Herk Harvey)


In this short film from 1958, a terrible little kid named Larry is given detention because he’s a terrible little kid.  He’s supposed to clean the chalkboard but instead he draws a cartoon character, which promptly comes to life and probably traumatizes Larry for life.  Larry does learn a little something about behaving at school but at what cost?  Seriously, Larry may have had bad manners but you know who I blame?  The parents.  That’s who the stick figure should be tormenting.

Now, believe it or not, there is a reason why I’m posting this in October.  This short film — like many educational films from the 50s — was directed by Herk Harvey.  Harvey spent the majority of his long career making industrial and educational films.  However, horror fans will always know him as the man who directed 1962’s Carnival of Souls!  I’ll be sharing Carnival Of Souls next week but for now, enjoy Manners in School!

And remember …. good manners are good for everyone!  And if you don’t believe me, a stick figure is going to lecture you and give you nightmares.

A Blast From The Past: The Innocent Party (dir by Herk Harvey)


In this education film from 1959, two dim teenage boys decide to take a trip to the big city.  They pick up two girls, the engage in behavior “condemned by society,” and the next thing you know, everyone’s got Syphilis.

Yes, this is another educational film from the 50s, where the emphasis is less on practical advice (i.e., use a condom when having sex, especially with someone who you just met) and more on passing judgment on those who transgressed society’s norms.  I have to admit that one of the things that I like about these old films is just how bleak their worldview was.  If you screw up once, your life is over.  There’s nothing you can do to fix the problem.  There’s nothing you can do to redeem yourself.  You stepped out-of-line and now, you’ve got the same disease that killed Al Capone.  Take that, teenager!  The message of this particular film was considered to be so important that it was even filmed in color, which is quite a contrast to the harsh black-and-white aesthetic of most educational films of the period.  That, along with the smooth jazz on the soundtrack, is designed to let the target audience know that sex with random people is totally squaresville and not something that a responsible member of society does.  Why go to the city when you could join the student council or take part in any number of wholesome school activities?

This film was one of the many educational films to be directed by the great Herk Harvey.  In a career that spanned decades, Harvey directed hundreds of short, educational films that were designed to show “young people” how to properly behave.  Even if he wasn’t directing a film about VD, then he was probably doing a film about why gossip can be destructive to school spirit.

Harvey also directed one feature film and it’s one of the most important and influential horror films ever made, 1962’s Carnival of Souls.  We’ll be sharing that film here on the Lens later this month.  Until then, please enjoy The Innocent Party!