Unless the phrase "Directed By Wes Craven" follows it somewhere in the credits, the words "Wes Craven Presents" above the title of a film don't usually inspire a whole lot of confidence. Still, the mere fact that Carnival Of Souls, written and directed by Adam Grossman of Sometimes They Come Back… Again fame, is a remake of the great 1962 cult film of the same name inspires more hope than usual. Directed, in his only attempt at a feature film, by Herk Harvey, the low-budget original follows the path of a young organist, the only survivor of an apparently fatal hot-rodding accident, as she travels to a new town—only to find herself haunted by otherworldly figures who seem connected to an abandoned carnival nearby. Grossman's remake loosely follows the same script, but to little effect. Bobbie Phillips (The X-Files, Showgirls) stars as the owner of a dockside bar not too far from an old carnival site. On the anniversary of her mother's murder, she finds herself haunted by the figure of the clown, played by the not-too-scary Larry Miller, who is responsible for her mother's death and her own molestation as a child. That the otherworldly Miller harasses the adult Phillips Freddie Krueger-style, accompanied by what appear to be monsters left over from Jacob's Ladder (a film that owes more than a little to the original Carnival), lends the whole thing a creepy, exploitative feel that would probably be excusable if the movie were any good. But it's not: It's just another straight-to-video horror film that appears to have had any bit of ambition squeezed out of it and replaced with cheaper-than-usual cheap thrills. Seek out the original if you haven't seen it; it's a great film that doesn't depend on a clown-make-up-clad Miller abusing a small child for its chills.
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