Fifty-four years ago, director Herk Harvey made his atmospheric horror film Carnival of Souls, and in the time since, it has become not only a beloved cult classic but a landmark of American independent cinema. Made independently from the Centron Corporation, a company in Lawrence, Kansas, where Harvey had made several industrial and educational films, this low-budget feature was shot primarily at an abandoned amusement park on the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Initially released in drive-in theaters in 1962, Carnival opened to a limited audience as part of a double feature, but it left an indelible mark on those who did see it, like director George A. Romero. It wasn’t until 1989 that the film finally had a proper revival and was given a theatrical release in New York, establishing it as one of the most influential horror films of its time.
In 1983, before its grand return to theaters, director-editor Timothy De Paepe conducted an interview with Harvey, his film instructor at the time, on the Centron sound stage as part of a film-school documentary. Below, you can watch the rare footage of the director candidly discussing the experience of making Carnival of Souls and the film’s afterlife.