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Something Weird Video presents
Carnival of Blood & Curse of the Headless Horseman (1970-72)

"Pretty soon there won't be nobody left. Won't be nobody to say 'Bang bang, you're dead.'"
- Solomon (B.G. Fisher) in Curse of the Headless Horseman

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: April 22, 2002

Stars: Earle Edgerton, Judith Resnick, Martin Barolsky, Burt Young, Marland Proctor, Claudia Ream, B.G. Fisher, Ultra Violet
Other Stars: Kaly Mills, Claudia Dean, Joe Cody
Director: Leonard Kirtman

Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Video
MPAA Rating: PG for (violence, horror gore, bad folksongs)
Run Time: 02h:49m:21s
Release Date: April 16, 2002
UPC: 014381118025
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D D+DD+ D+

DVD Review

Precious few drive-in theaters remain in the US, driven out by home video and multiplexes, but at one time they were a regular fixture in nearly every town, specializing in double features of dubious quality, especially horror movies. These were highly popular, since the horror factor might tend to inspire romance; if successful, the screen wouldn't be watched much anyway, allowing the movie to be as lousy as the filmmakers thought they could get away with. This Something Weird disc provides a pair of pictures by Leonard Kirtman, which actually played as a double feature at the drive-ins of the early 1970s.

Carnival of Blood (1970) is shot at Coney Island. Assistant D.A. Dan (Martin Barolsky) is after a vicious killer, stalking the amusement park. Numerous suspects appear, including a suspicious fortune teller who seems to know too much about the bleak futures of the victims (Kaly Mills), and Gimpy, the hunchbacked and deformed assistant to Tom, one of the keepers of the arcade (Earle Edgerton). Blood-gouting decapitations are the order of the day, though too much time is spent enjoying the Coney Island ambience.

The followup feature, Curse of the Headless Horseman reminds one of an extended Scooby-Doo episode more than anything. Mark Callahan (Marland Proctor) has inherited a Wild West tourist attraction from his uncle, with the stipulation that he must turn it into a profitable proposition within six months, or it's forfeit. Things are going none too well, but rapidly go from bad to worse when a headless horseman shows up on the scene and shakes the head it carries at people, covering them with blood. More of a serious annoyance than a blood-curdling threat, the horseman does manage a few good moments.

There's little positive that can be said about these pictures. They're plagued by wooden acting, amateurish special effects and makeup, and worst of all, horrifically bad folk music. As teeth-clenchingly bad as may be the endless choruses about carousels in Carnival, they are surpassed by the vomit-inducing performances in Horseman. I have a strong stomach for this stuff, having been in an off-key cowboy band myself, but this was far too much for me. Horseman suffers from the extremely repetitive portentous voiceover that makes one long for Gary Owens. The horseman and his horse are barely seen onscreen, though there's enough visible to verify that, yes, they did in fact have a man on a horse (the first few appearances caused me to wonder). But these are so few and brief that it seems that they may have just rented the horse for one day. The frequent crowd sequences in Carnival all feature the exact same crowd, despite ostensibly taking place over several days. They didn't even bother to rearrange them between takes!

On the plus side, the heavy padding in Carnival will probably be of interest to amusement park junkies. Oh, and how can you resist a teddy bear sporting a gouged-out human eye and stuffed full of human entrails?

These two time-wasters would have been better left in the vault. Surely Something Weird has something more worthwhile to offer? But even though there are some movies that are so bad they're good, these two turkeys have gone right past that into being so bad they're just intolerably bad. When you can't even get ironic entertainment out of drive-in movies, you know they're truly godawful.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I'm assuming that these are presented in the original aspect ratio; they appear to have been shot in 16mm. The camerawork is amateurish enough that it's difficult to tell whether the framing is cropped or just shot wrong. In any event, that would be the least of the problems with the picture here. The source prints are downright awful. Dupey, smeary, heavily damaged, coated with speckles and scratches throughout, they're painfully bad to watch. The transfers make the most out of the source prints, producing good colors and decent black levels, but these are sow ears that are good for nothing but becoming dog toys.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The mono English tracks faithfully reproduce the sound as it might have been heard over the tiny drive-in speakers. That is to say, not well at all. Hissy and noisy, the tracks suffer from garbled dialogue that's often tough to make out. Music reproduction is poor, which doesn't help the laughably bad songs. No particular depth or presence to the soundtrack was detectable.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Asylum of Satan, Crypt of Dark Secrets, The Dead One, House of Exorcism, Hunchback of the Morgue, She Freak, Three on a Meathook and Werewolves on Wheels
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: EastPack
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 3 short subjectsThree short subjects
  2. Gallery of Horror Drive-In Exploitation ArtGallery of exploitation art
Extras Review: Instead of the usual drive-in presentation that Something Weird often provides for pictures of this nature, this is a more straightforward movies-and-extras operation. The first set of extras is a group of three short films. The first, a 1937 soundie called Carnival Star, features several musical acts, introduced by a carnival barker. Mostly forgettable, it's certainly of far higher caliber than the music in the main features. Oddly enough, it features opera star Jan Peerce, slumming in the role of a hot dog vendor. Opera completists may want to take a look at this. The other two shorts are miserable excuses for using up disc space. These two horror home movies are teenage efforts from 20 or more years ago. Hunchback of Massapequa Park features the plotless maraudings of the title character. Hands of Justice, a twisted little revenge fantasy, at least makes an effort at a storyline. Both are at times much too dark to make out and the special effects are amateurish (though in Hands of Justice they're at least ambitious: an eye-gouging and a decapitation, among other means of vengeance). Amazingly enough, Something Weird felt protective enough of these materials to put their SWV logo onscreen throughout their entire durations. Another black mark on a misguided release.

In addition to a pair of TV spots for the double feature presented on the disc, there are eight trailers of varying quality. Mario Bava's House of Exorcism is sold with one of those trailers where they won't show any of the picture. Werewolves on Wheels proudly sells itself as the 'greatest motorcycle-monster movie ever made.' However, later in the trailer it concedes that it's also the only motorcycle-monster movie ever made. Hmm, dubious marketing strategy there.

Wrapping up the package is the usual gleanings from pressbooks and newspaper ads for exploitation pictures, with a fair amount of duplication. Radio spots play underneath the visuals, which go by too quickly for any kind of close examination. Viewers will want to keep a finger on the pause button.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Something Weird hits bottom with a pair of awful pictures, taken from nasty prints, supplemented by mostly worthless extras. For completists and amusement park junkies only.


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