The Devil’s Carnival (2012)

Ticket-Keeper: A rebel in hell–how original.

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Apparently Darren Lynn Bousman’s “Repo! The Genetic Opera” has not only become a massive cult classic, but it’s rising to the status of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” where fans swarm in droves to pay homage to the punk rock horror musical engineered by the director. While its initial release was piss poor, that never means it’s the death of an actual film. Quality always rises above horrible marketing and advertising. While “Repo!” was an entertaining enough horror treat, director Darren Lynn Bousman follows up his hit musical with a quasi-sequel of a sorts. While it’s not a direct continuation of “Repo!” it definitely garners the spirit of the former film, and even casts some actors from “Repo!” including Paul Sorvino, Bill Mosely, and Alex Vega in an especially saucy role as the demonic Wick.

“The Devil’s Carnival” is a trip through the hell dimension as the musical chronicles the tales of three lost souls, all of whom have committed their own sins that have granted them tickets to their own personal hell. One woman is a kleptomaniac with an appetite for greed, another woman has a tendency to get in to relationships with murderous men, while one man is intent on taking his own life while grief stricken over his dead son. The trio are sent to the Devil’s Carnival with their own escorts as they roll through the horrific rides and amusements of the park. While there, they all go their separate paths finding their fates within the darkness of the carnival, and meet their fates, as the horned Lucifer narrates the film through Aesop’s Fables to the audience and his dwarfish fool.

With the devil’s minions set upon the trio of lost souls, The Painted Doll, Miss Merrywood, and The Scorpion Kid are assigned to test the resolves of the individuals. With their own hellish machinations see if they’re fit for an eternal pass in to the Devil’s Carnival or can earn their way in to heaven. Director Darren Lynn Bousman has his own tone for the film pegged, and never once falters in bringing in his audience to view the horrors of his story. Proposed to be the first episode in many upcoming ones, “The Devil’s Carnival” is a beautifully directed and wonderfully choreographed horror rock musical that opts for wonderful performers as opposed to stylish actors.

Emilie Autumn is incredible as the ghoulishly beautiful Painted Doll who garners much screen time with her immense musical presence, while folks like Shawn Crahan deliver a melancholy musical number amid the chaos of the carnival. The epicenter of the carnival is Lucifer himself, and Terrance Zdunich manages to rise above the incredible make up effects to provide a wonderful turn as the wicked lord of the carnival who indulges the audience with fables directly connected to the conundrums of our trio of lost souls, and manages to steal every scene he inhabits. There are also excellent turns from film actors including the lovely Briana Evigan as the twisted Twin, Alexa Vega as the immensely sexy Wick, and Marc Senter as the devilish Scorpion Kid, who plays a key role in the in the narrative.

“The Devil’s Carnival” moves at a lightning fast pace with a wonderful eye on visuals and atmosphere giving horror fans yet another truly excellent musical they can feast on when they’re not re-visiting Bousman’s “Repo!” I truly hope director Bousman re-visits this territory in the future and delivers a much more epic horror rock opera. I’ll be there ready to visit the corners of hell and rock out. Director Darren Lynn Bousman’s follow-up to “Repo!” is a film I never expected to adore from beginning to end. While I love musicals, modern variations of the genre are a hard sell for me, but with the immense talent, the wonderful music, and the excellent genre twist, I was ready to re-watch it as soon as the credits finished rolling.