The horror musical is a rare niche of a sub genre, the crazy loner in a crowd of cool kids, and although a cult favourite, the inability to pigeon hole it with the rest of the slashers, or place it proudly beside Rogers and Hammerstein means it’s an acquired taste among film fans. Screen classics like Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors, and Repo! the Genetic Opera stand out as some of the best films, anywhere you want to place them, and recent low budget gems like Poultrygeist, with an excellent soundtrack featuring Liverpool horror rockers Zombina and the Skeletones are really embracing the camp and dare I say it, fun side of a stagnant scene, and breathe life and originality into something that desperately needs fresh perspectives and risk takers.
I confess that I’m a sucker for a musical, so combining a sinister storyline with songs and gaudy sets, just brings out the happy in me, and The Devil’s Carnival is a show stopper in every sense of the word.
Created by Repo! The Genetic Opera’s Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich, and based on Aesop’s Fables, the film follows three sinners, who after dying, stumble their way into hell’s very own entertainment centre. A big top full of beautiful and grotesque misfit carnies, help guide them to their very own confrontations of the faults that brought them down to meet the ‘Boss’.
Let me start by saying that this is one of the best films I have seen in a very long time, if not ever. The songs are original, catchy and completely enchanting and the visual concept is an assault on the senses that manages to hypnotise you from the very first scene. Shabby surroundings that echo former glamour and glory, the ‘steampunk meets psychobilly with a smidgen of burlesque’ costumes to the quirky and original characterisation, there is not a single inch of this intriguing universe that doesn’t leave you gasping for more. The multi talented Emilie Autumn as the Painted Doll was entrancing and beautiful as always (fans will be pleased to see Captain Maggot and the Blessed Contessa appear as Woe Maidens), with Paul Sorvino and Sean Patrick Flannery starring there is an absolute abundance of talent in this amazing piece of art. It exudes fun and originality, and with Bousman and Zdunich stating that this is merely Episode 1, there is scope for something really special in the expansion of this creation.
This was a labour of love that is a shining example of what a real independent film can be, purely about striving to make art purely for the enjoyment and creative process. After a successful U.S tour and more films to come, I advise everyone to get on board, for it would be truly sinful to be left behind.