Though Wes Craven's name appears in the title of this dismal, sort-of remake of the classic 1962 chiller, he actually contributed nother to the screenplay and had no hand in directing. Alex Grant (Bobbie Phillips) is haunted by the memory of her mother's rape and murder at the hands of a carnival clown who rescued little Alex (Raquel Beaudene) when she got lost on the midway. Alex's testimony sent the evil clown, Louis Seagram (comedian Larry Miller), to prison. Years later, Alex and her younger sister, Sandra (Shawnee Smith) run their mother's seedy carnival bar together. Then one day Alex is carjacked by Seagram, who's just been released from prison. Alex drives her car into a river with Seagram in the back seat, but only she surfaces. Then Alex wakes up in her bathtub: Did she dream the entire encounter with Seagram? She tries to resume living a normal life, but is plagued by nightmarish visions of Seagram, mysterious bunches of red balloons and wailing demons. Alex begins losing track of what's real and what's not; perhaps she's having a complete nervous breakdown or perhaps she's the victim of a relentless haunting. The idea for a new CARNIVAL OF SOULS originated with actress Candace Hilligoss, who played the haunted girl suspended somewhere between life and death in the first film. In 1989 she asked Harvey whether he'd be interested in making a sequel and, she says, he replied "If you want the headache, you pursue it." Hilligoss wrote a script and began trying to drum up interest in it. But the project eventually wound up in the hands of director Adam Grossman, who co-wrote a new script with original CARNIVAL OF SOULS screenwriter John Clifford; Hilligoss was cut out of the project entirely. Though filled with modern-day horror contrivances, Grossman's film evokes none of the haunting atmosphere that distinguished Herk Harvey's eerily timeless original. Hilligoss, disgusted with the way things had worked out, refused to appear in a cameo role, but Sidney Berger (who played her memorably lecherous neighbor in the first film) appeared in a small role as a policeman.
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