I Wanna Go To The Carnival

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Ray Dennis Steckler made a lot of oddball cult classics in the 60’s but this one is his epic masterpiece…filmed for the exorbitant sum of $38,000. The plot? Shiftless slacker Jerry (Steckler himself), his girlfriend Angela (Sharon Walsh) and roommate Harold (Atlas King, a Greek immigrant who didn’t speak English) decide to go to the local carnival and have their fortunes told. They visit Madame Estrella (Brett O’Hara, who spent most of her career as Susan Hayward’s stand-in) who, unbeknownst to our intrepid trio, has a small army of zombies in the back room…and she thinks that Jerry would make a nice addition to her collection. Sure, the zombies are gnarly-looking, but wait til you clap eyes upon her assistant Ortega (Jack Brady)…Either they did a makeup job on him that would make Tom Savini envious…or he could’ve been the next Rondo Hatton…

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Soon Madame Estrella uses a hypno-wheel (a variation on the gadget they used to sell out of comic books, along with x-ray spex and trick chewing gum) to mesmerize Jerry and turn him into her personal killing machine, which she commands to kill several of the other performers in the area. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the movie is a musical, full of bizarre, elaborate production numbers that provide relief from the terror every few minutes. Like any other Steckler movie, rule numero uno is don’t try to figure it out logically…just go with it, man. So, what sets this movie apart from Steckler’s other work…and typical B-movies in general? It was shot by Lazlo Kovacs, Joseph V. Mascelli and Vilmos Zsigmond, three of the greatest cinematographers of all time…when they were just off the boat. So the movie looks beautiful…and their talents really add to the dizzying, surreal feel of the film…The whole thing is like the weirdest dream you’ve ever had…the kind that either sends you to a shrink or makes you lay off spicy foods before bed…

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