LOUISVILLE LOVES HORROR #24: Sheri Streeter LOVES Carnival of Souls (1962)

I love the way singer/songwriter Sheri Streeter briefly described to me the music she makes: “I write pretty songs for sad bastards and weirdos.” Over the course of 2016, she’s stayed busy releasing both an EP and an LP, each having a unique backstory behind them. She spent the Summer on the east coast recording in a South Jersey studio housed in a storage bin and released her eponymous full-length album on Bandcamp.

The EP, titled Birds of a Feather was originally recorded and produced by the late Kevin Brown (Diana Krall, Bela Fleck, The Verve Pipe) in Kalamazoo in 2005 before a tragic accident resulting in his death. The 3-song album was kept under wraps until a few months ago when it was finally set loose before she embarked on a Spring tour. She’s also released a few singles on various compilations, my favorite being  “Crotch Crucifix”, a beautifully angry track that can be found on the We Have A Bevin Problem comp. Her voice on this track particularly really riles me up, almost to the point of flipping tables, which is a bit unusual considering it’s mostly just Sheri and an acoustic guitar.

Considering that Sheri is a fan of scary movies, we reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in talking about one of her own personal favorite horror films as part of our ongoing daily LOUISVILLE LOVES HORROR series. She was kind enough to respond with a review/retrospective of an older, lesser known independent fright flick from the 60’s that I haven’t yet seen, but after reading her connection to it I’m more than curious…

SHERI STREETER LOVES
CARNIVAL OF SOULS


As a young girl, horror was my favorite genre. My parents allowed us to watch scary movies as long as we could assure them that we knew it was “just make-believe” and that consuming such media wasn’t affecting us negatively. It wasn’t until I was little older and became less sheltered from a not-so-safe world that horror flicks started giving me nightmares. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the first movie that truly terrified me simply because it was plausible.


While I never outgrew my fondness of horror, my tastes shifted from blood and gore to B-movies and art house cinema. I fell in love with Carnival of Souls, a 1962 indie, low budget film reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman. I ran across it only recently, immediately upon returning from six months and 22,000 miles of traveling. Living on the road is beautiful and surreal—an altered state of consciousness. You don’t know where you are and you can’t remember where you’ve been, and your sense of time becomes skewed. Moreso, it’s lonely even when you’re never alone. I immediately related to Carnival’s main character Mary Henry.


Mary stumbles out of the river after a car accident and abruptly leaves town for work as an uninspired church organist. The trauma leaves her with a numb restlessness and an inability to connect with others around her. She begins seeing an apparition and becomes increasingly obsessed with a nearby abandoned carnival, both of which only further her isolation. A chilling underscore, the black-and-white cinematography, and nightmarish scenes drive a growing tension and dread.

And let’s admit it: churches and carnivals are fucking creepy.