Carnival of Souls | Crooked Media
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March 26, 2024
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer
Carnival of Souls

In This Episode

Halle and Alison debate the realities of being a church organist while ruining Carnival of Souls.

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[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread. Keep you up late night in bed, here’s a podcast that will help you ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely then we’ll talk about what’s frightening, so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined.


Halle Kiefer: Oh, hello. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 


Alison Leiby: And I’m Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: Welcome to Ruined, a podcast where we ruin a horror movie just for you. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] Hello. 


Halle Kiefer: Hi. 


Alison Leiby: How are you. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m good. I’m literally sending someone the lesbian, lesbian master doc right now. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, there you go. Did they update it or something? Wasn’t there? I feel like I’ve seen it in kind of like, quote unquote “the news” lately, but I don’t know if it’s just popping up because, like, every once in a while, it pops up. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I think it just pops up. I think it does pop. God, it probably was Reneé Rapp or something. I feel like any time any like lesbian or queer woman in celebrity like, comes out or talks about their sexuality, they do mention it. And I do think it is like that is probably the algorithm. Like if you Google it or somebody mentions it. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That you read it like, oh, that’s really helpful. And I also say it because I say, I’ve said this before, maybe not on the podcast, but I, I’ve seen people like criticize the lesbian master doc because they’re like, oh, this made me think I couldn’t be bisexual. One that’s not the point of it. But also. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: We do need to get to the point where it’s like any document is just a way to figure out what doors are being knocked on in inside of you. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes.


Halle Kiefer: Right. Like, yeah, this there’s no document is going to tell you you’re gay. I mean, it helps. 


Alison Leiby: Or like or exactly prescriptive and perfect for your— 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: —unique experience. Like, it’s like it’s like it’s just kind of a catch all. Like, just see if it opens up anything when you’re reading through it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And then go from there. 


Halle Kiefer: And I would also say to my bisexuals is that what I would offer is y’all should start a bisexual master doc that I think would be—


Alison Leiby: I feel like I saw someone saying this on the internet. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes, I believe that was me. Because like I any, any group like this should just have a master doc of anecdotal evidence because we are basically trying to find ourselves against this cis hetero patriarchy. You know, like that we’re having to define ourselves. So how do you find that information? How do you find it? If were my case was always like, oh, well, something wrong with me? Rather than, oh, well, I’m allowed to come at this from a neutral place of discovery about myself, which is what I hope for younger people. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But again. But I also think everyone, regardless of who has read, I could see what you think. It’s it’s just helpful for everybody to be like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: What doors is this knocking on inside me? You know? But again, just sending it to someone right now. 


Alison Leiby: That’s nice. 


Halle Kiefer: And. Yeah. Alison, how are you doing? 


Alison Leiby: I had a tough week. I had to buy a new phone. And that’s. You always think like, this should be easy. Like I am on a plan already. I’m not like getting set up with a new account and I just need a different physical phone because my old phone stopped, having a microphone. And I couldn’t make and receive any phone calls on it. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m sorry. 


Alison Leiby: So. And it was slow, and it was, it was old and like, I don’t like the idea of like, I am not. I was like, I will keep this phone forever, but like, it became just nonfunctional. But man, like, I could have bought a house and the like with the amount of information they needed from me to get a new phone. And as someone whose identity has been stolen twice, I respect the layers of security that they try and provide. So someone can’t just, like, get a phone in your name and transfer all your information onto it and do what I like, I get it, but it was like, I mean, I was at the AT&T store for like 90 minutes and I couldn’t be fucking around on my phone because they had my old my old phone was part of a trade in situation. So they took that and erased that and I was like—


Halle Kiefer: Oh my God, yeah, you must have gone completely insane, woman. 


Alison Leiby: I was just like walking. And I was like asking the guy. I was like, do you have any pets? I don’t know, just like trying to make conversation. 


Halle Kiefer: Did he? 


Alison Leiby: He was very kind. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay good.


Alison Leiby: No. But he was like a lot of people. I was, I was in, kind of like my neck of the woods, like Park Slope ish. And, he was like a lot of people. He was from Pakistan, and he was like, I am a little afraid of dogs. 


Halle Kiefer: Aw. 


Alison Leiby: And this area is like, everybody has a dog, and they all come into the store and like, none of them are scary. But I am afraid, like—


Halle Kiefer: Aw, that’s hard. Yeah. I live in a. Well, I that was a Freudian slip. I work in an office where, it’s full of dogs. And while I feel fine about dogs in general, I do. I’m like, do we? What, in what venue would some would be like, please don’t make me be surrounded by dogs cause I’m afraid of them at my workplace in L.A.. I don’t know, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. It’s tough. So, but I but I got a new phone, and I can make and receive calls again, so I can, like, do my job. And, I don’t know, it wasn’t money I was super thrilled to spend. It wasn’t an afternoon I was really jazzed about. And I don’t like the idea of, you know, needing to continue leaning on the ongoing crisis in the Congo so that I can look at TikTok. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: That is tough. But I am not a new tech person, so I feel like I am, I’m on the leaner side of that. Nightmare. 


Halle Kiefer: I do feel like you were debating whether you should get a phone or a computer. It is funny that your phone just decided for you. It was—


Alison Leiby: Yeah my phone was like, it’s actually my turn. And I was like, oh, cool. And then this morning I went to go. I went to like, open my laptop and it wouldn’t turn on. And I was like, you got to be fucking kidding me. And then it was fine. So. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Let me tell you. 


Alison Leiby: For now. For now.


Halle Kiefer: You’ll eventually get a new one. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Anyway, how are you? Anything going on? Not really?


Halle Kiefer: No, I got, I got nothing. I’m going to speed dating tomorrow. 


Alison Leiby: That’s fun. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess we’ll see how it goes. I’ve been once. I am interested to see what the age range. The first time I did, I would say. I would say lesbians dating, but it’s really queer. Queer women and non-binary peoples speed dating. Everyone was 24 and I was like, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—


Alison Leiby: Yes, I remember this. 


Halle Kiefer: Remember, I’m sorry, but I think there should be an older crowd. If not, there is an over 35 speed dating at Ruby Fruit, the lesbian bar in Silver Lake, and I will be going there. I don’t I don’t even know if speed dating is anything for anybody, I don’t know. But I was like, well, at least I’m going to do something. I think maybe that’s I mean, I feel like I’m doing something right. 


Alison Leiby: I think also what it is, is like, it’s just like it’s a bunch of people who might already all be in a bar at a like in a room, in a space hanging out. But it’s forcing you to talk to people you don’t know, as opposed to talking to people you know, and not engaging with the strangers who are also there. 


Halle Kiefer: Right, which is what I do. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. It’s just kind of like icebreaker games but like organized.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So I will report back if I find my wife and. 


Alison Leiby: I love that. 


Halle Kiefer: I’ll let you guys know. What about you? Are you doing anything, you broke your phone, anything else going on? 


Alison Leiby: Phone. I got a really good chicken Caesar wrap. 


Halle Kiefer: Great. yesterday. We love it. 


Alison Leiby: I posted it on Instagram and got a lot of people being like, what is this? I must have it. It is from Milano Market. If you saw it, it’s an Upper East Side, like Italian deli slash market. It was so good. I like I it was the kind of thing where I ate the whole thing and it’s huge. And afterwards I was like, I wish I had another one. Like, it was just like that. Delicious. 


Halle Kiefer: I desperately want that someone I, someone made a chicken, Caesar like, sandwich on, like a hoagie roll. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, I’ve seen that. 


Halle Kiefer: I saw on Instagram. And I want to know more.


Alison Leiby: I also want that. I also want that. So I don’t know it’s chicken Caesar season, so. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s chicken Caesar season for the soul. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. That’s it.


Halle Kiefer: Speaking of a soul, our movie this week for of course, March Madness month is a another classic. It is, 1962’s Carnival of Souls, which is sort of, considered an early, you know. God, I was gonna say pile driver. Is it considered an early benchmark of the genre? 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: And it was directed by Herk Harvey. It is his only feature, and he knocks it out of the park. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s written by John Clifford and a by a story based on a story that both of them wrote. And it is starring Candace Hilligoss which is an actor I did not know about. And she is, everyone of that era is stunningly beautiful. Obviously. What’s interesting about her look to me is she looks like she could be on TikTok. She has a very like. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: High, high. 


Alison Leiby: Modern. 


Halle Kiefer: Modern, a modern beauty. Stunning. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, her face is like. I was like, looking at it. And I was like, I know this says it was 1962, but this woman looks like she lives in 2024 and is going to do a get ready with me. 


Halle Kiefer: Where like she’s a probably a picture that I feel like Kim Kardashian or somebody would bring in where it’s like if someone who was, I mean not naturally. I mean, she could have had work done back then, but like, so stunningly beautiful in a way that looks so modern.


Alison Leiby: I don’t know if that was that good.


Halle Kiefer: I know exactly we’d probably be able to tell. But like, you know, I know either, like, lower your hairline. I’m not saying they weren’t up to all sorts of taping your eyelids back or whatever. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But, she is so beautiful and is so good in this movie. And, shout out to her memory. She wasn’t in a ton of stuff. Oh, she’s still with us. Oh, great. And she did. She voice acted a song called Once Upon a Time in Mars, and, she’s also in the documentary, it was in 2001, but it was. She’s still alive as of today, so congratulations. 


Alison Leiby: Outstanding. 


Halle Kiefer: Wonderful. In this film. So let us begin. We also like to have Alison watch the trailer. What do you think of a trailer for Carnival of Souls, Alison? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, definitely spooky. It gave me a lot of. And I think this is just because it was, like, black and white, and she was hot, but, like, I was a I studied in college and watched a lot of, Antonioni films like L’Avventura,  L’Eclisse, Blow-Up all of those. So I was just like getting shades of that, which were also like for being like, beautiful films were also, like, always a little bit scary. And I think that’s just like, like, long shots of whatever. Very scary. I can kind of piece together the plot of like, something happens to a woman and then. She goes mad about it because either nobody believes her or it doesn’t happen. 


Halle Kiefer: Great. All right. We’re. We’re on the same page here. We always like to take a baseline. Scary. Alison. How scary do you find the concept of moving to Salt Lake City to become an organist at for a church? 


Alison Leiby: Salt Lake City is very scary. Also, as if you were of the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. You know, a lot of spooky stuff going on there even today. A church organist. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. 


Alison Leiby: That’s for a Mormon church or a regular flavor?


Halle Kiefer: Well it seems to be for a Catholic church, so I guess— 


Alison Leiby: It was 1962. Were there Mormons yet? It was so new.


Halle Kiefer: I think they were. They were just get started. No, but they were around. And the reason they’re in Salt Lake City is because the carnival itself is shot at a, actual carnival pavilion. That is on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. So it was actually shot on location, and it was obviously like, he basically, Harvey was driving past it’s called the Salt Air Pavilion in Salt Lake City. So it was one of these beautiful old timey, like, there’s a bowling alley, there’s an arcade, there’s a dance hall. Like, everyone in Salt Lake City would go there all the time, which does sound really fun, especially like it was a place like that where everyone goes. That just seems more convenient. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. I want to say, also, I find, and this is a it’s not coastal elitism. But it’s just because that’s how I grew up. Like I find being in non, coastal places very scary and claustrophobic, as if I’m going to take to the sea if something happens. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s funny. 


Alison Leiby: But like, I don’t, there is something to be like because I grew up like on the water and like on the coast and like, I don’t know, there’s something about like whenever I, you know, any, any state that doesn’t, you know, touch the ocean, I get like, I’m just like, ooh, scary stuff. Because where do you go? And it’s like, it’s actually everywhere. You could go anywhere. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, that’s a question that, our main character will have to deal with. Where do you go, Alison? 


Alison Leiby: Where do you go? 


Halle Kiefer: And then finally, based on the trailer and based on what we have discussed, would you like to guess the twist in Carnival of Souls? 


[voice over]: Guess the twist. 


Alison Leiby: I’m going to guess that what she is imagining. Or what she experienced was something she imagined and that she or maybe. No, I’m going to guess there’s somebody who’s dead and we will find out that she killed them but didn’t even really like. She won’t. Her mind won’t let her realize that she killed him. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. Better and better, I tell you every fucking week. All right, let us begin ruining Carnival of Souls. Alison. We see two cars full of horny youths pulling up to a stoplight, and they’re about to do the devil’s dirtiest business. Drag racing. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, boy. 


Halle Kiefer: And there’s, like, where? It’s like, before you can really get your hands on weed because, like, you’d go to prison forever. People did just have to drive fast without a seatbelt to feel some kind of thrill. 


Alison Leiby: That’s a rush. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Of some kind.


Halle Kiefer: Like so it makes sense why drag racing was a thing. It’s like, well, you were allowed to do anything else. We had to drive very fast, dangerously. Alison we see a car with two young men pull up to a stoplight and challenge a car with three young women in it to a drag race. The girls are sort of giggling. Everyone’s having a great time, and they agree. So they set out. They are drag racing down like a normal small town road, and they veer onto a dirt country road, still racing dangerously in the middle of the day. And then they both get onto a wooden bridge. 


Alison Leiby: No, why would that even be there? 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know, and it’s barely wide enough for both cars. So the black car actually swerves, the boys. The boys car swerves and hits the girl’s car, and the girl’s car sort of rights itself, but then it overcorrects and it slams into the side of the bridge and plunges into the river below. Learn your lessons teens do not drag race. The men, of course, stop and run over to the side and they’re like, oh my God, that was the seventh eighth and ninth day this week. Like, I just like, this has to be the first car accident you’ve been in if you’re drag racing during the day. 


Alison Leiby: It’s got to be constant. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. Every man in town comes onto the bridge to help. We see the men talk to the sheriff. They’re like, wow, we don’t know what happened. We were actually going the other way, and suddenly their car just swerved. Yeah, that’s the ticket. They just boldfaced lie about what was happening. 


Alison Leiby: Great. 


Halle Kiefer: And the sheriff. The sheriff was kind of like, are you sure this was happening? You sure you weren’t drag racing? Meanwhile, we see the sheriff’s men at the, on the shore, and they’re trying to throw, like, a hook, essentially try to hook the bumper to find it, because probably the river’s very deep. There’s a swift current, and there’s, like, a sandbar affecting how, like they’re able to get into the water. But one of them says, I mean, we’re gonna keep looking, obviously, but it’s been about three hours, and, it’s not looking good to find them. And with the current, the car could have been swept down the river. If so, we we may never find them. But of course, the sheriffs are like, we have to continue looking. We we have to do this. We see a bunch of schoolchildren run out onto the bridge to watch. They all look down, Alison, and out of the wood water out of the water stumbles onto the sandbar. One of the women. She is filthy, but she is not soaking wet in the way that you’d think that she would be. 


Alison Leiby: Interesting. 


Halle Kiefer: The men all run over to her and like, oh, it’s Mary Henry from town. And one of them says, Mary, how did you get out? She looks, it looks and just shocked. And they say, what about the other girls? And Mary says, I don’t remember. And we pan over the still water later cleaned up and in a new dress. Mary goes back to the river to watch. There’s like a smaller group of men trying to get the car. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So shows over everybody. You know, we may or may not be finding out. She goes back to her car and we see a cigarette lighter, and there’s a great cut where it cuts to her pulling out an organ button. She’s an organist. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. I can’t not think of a organ anymore without thinking of that, short sketch in I Think You Should Leave, in a previous season where it’s Fred Willard. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, yes. 


Alison Leiby: Playing an organ, but he’s just throwing plates on the ground. 


Halle Kiefer: This movie could use a little bit of that, I think. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But it was alright because the organ because a lot of organ talk, a lot of organ work we see her playing a gigantic pipe organ to the church. And the kind of thing, like, you’re not going to see that anymore. And also, I grew up with an organ in my house. It was an electric organ, though, so it didn’t have, like, the fantastical, almost Doctor Seuss like structure. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: We find out the priest, comes talks to Mary and that she has taken a job at a church in Salt Lake City to be the organist there. And the pastor says, I think you’ll be a great fit for you, Mary. And Mary says. 


[clip of Candace Hilligoss]: It’s just a job to me. 


[clip of Art Ellison]: Well that’s not quite the attitude for going into church work. 


[clip of Candace Hilligoss]: I’m not taking the vows. I’m only going to play the organ. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is so funny to say about being a church organist. Like to be cut throat about, like, well, you got to make, what, $10,000 a year? Girl? 


Alison Leiby: Maybe. 


Halle Kiefer: But I do think you’re saying was like, it is my job. I can live on my own. That is the underpinning this is like, I’m not religious. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t care. And he tells her, Mary, you know, it really takes more than intellect to be a great musician. You gotta let your soul in a little. This movie. 


Alison Leiby: Shut up. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. This movie is full of men telling Mary what to do.


Alison Leiby: Cool. They sound great. 


Halle Kiefer: And she is. She says, well, either way, I’m leaving this morning, like, now. And he says, are you gonna go see your parents before you get out of town? She says, no, I’m I’m I’m already I already left. I, I am gone. And I. At this point, I do want to say I do want to make a shot by shot remake of this movie starring Kristen Wiig. I feel like if she just played it totally seriously, it would be really funny. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, I, I could see that. 


Halle Kiefer: Because the next thing that the next interaction is a priest saying like, well, have a great time and please let me know when you’re back in town. And Mary turns and says, thank you, but I’m never coming back. 


Alison Leiby: I guess now that’s all I’m going to imagine for the rest of the movie. Thank you. 


Halle Kiefer: Please do. The pastor watches and go, and he goes over to the organ maker who’s, like, shaving down wood and said, you know, that girl last week was one of three women who went to the river and the only one to survive. You think think she’d appreciate life a little bit more? But the organ makers like, you know what? She’s a tough minded gal. She knows what she wants. She’s getting out of town. The pastor says I know, I’m just saying, she sure is acting weird. Alison on her way out of town. Mary has to drive over the bridge. 


Alison Leiby: The bridge. 


Halle Kiefer: We see her have this moment of hesitation, but then she fucking goes. And I’d be terrified, too, because this is a tiny wooden bridge. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I don’t like going over like a modern bridge. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She turns on the radio. We hear waltz music. It looks like she’s in northeast Ohio, so it was just sort of nice to be like, oh, I’m from that kind of place where there’s just a lot of fields and telephone lines. And also, she’s driving to Salt Lake City to become a church organist. All right. All right, Mary, she drives on. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t know if you have to go all the way there. 


Halle Kiefer: She drives through the day. She drives through the night. Alison. She’s in the middle of goddamn nowhere, and the radio stops working. Which does seem plausible. It’s the 60s. You wouldn’t have radio everywhere.


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that doesn’t send up any red flags, but it would be boring. 


Halle Kiefer: We see this great shot of her driving and you see reflected in the passenger side window. It’s a double of her driving. So she’s like, driving next to herself, and she turns. And when she looks, it’s not her reflection. It is a picture of a white man staring at her. He is both white and he’s wearing white white face paint. Double white.


Alison Leiby: Cool. Yuck.


Halle Kiefer: And he stares. His eyes are agape and his mouth is wide. And Mary, of course, screams and slams on the brake. But when she looks back, he’s gone. It’s like, oh, that’s so insane, I must maybe I’m falling asleep. Alison. She starts to drive on the road again. She looks forward and there is that man with theatrical makeup on. He sort of has a white face and then, like a smoky eye. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s standing in the middle of the road. I’m like, Mary went too far. You ended up in LA. Okay, you got to turn back and go back to Salt Lake. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes—


Halle Kiefer: —this time.


Alison Leiby: Yeah. He’s in a he’s in a clown workshop and you don’t want to bother him. 


Halle Kiefer: And you will have to see it. You already bought a ticket and it’s your third date. And now you know that it will be the last one. [laughter] When she, of course, looks back to the road, the man is gone. She drives on and we see this huge shape, like a huge structure in the distance. And I hope you can see by now this is going to be hard to do a who will survive? Or a, what would you do? Because we’re we’re already in a place where it’s like, well, you’re seeing a guy everywhere. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You see, Mary, it’s now daytime. She pulls into a gas station and outside Salt Lake City. And while the attendant is pumping her gas, she asks about, like, what was that big pavilion out there? He’s like, oh, it used to be this ritzy spa, like it was on the Salt Lake. You know, rich people come in and like, stay there. And then the salt started to like, basically the lake dried up, so there’s no lake. And so it turned into a dance hall. And then it became a carnival grounds. And everyone used to go see this huge thing. And it’s just been abandoned for years, so nobody really goes over there anymore. Mary shows, the attendant the address of a rooming house in town. I was like, wow, what a time where it’s like, I’m going to show up and I’m going to live in this lady’s house, and she’s going to be fine with that, and we’ll see each other around. And she goes to the, boarding house, and she sort of cringes when she sees the room and the boarding house. Woman. Mrs. Thomas was like, this is what I’ve got. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know what you think this is. Is 1962. This is the. This is what’s available. 


Alison Leiby: This or nothing. This is it.


Halle Kiefer: You know, I could have rented this yesterday and Mary said, no, thank you so much. It’s perfect. And she has a private, bathroom. And, again, probably a 60 thing. Mrs. Thomas says, you know, and and also feel free to take as many baths as you want. I’m not someone who, like, creates a fuss about that. So, like, it’s that water usage, I guess. I guess—


Alison Leiby: It must be. 


Halle Kiefer: Maybe there were. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: As we all should be concerned about our water usage. She says thank you. I really appreciate it. Alison? Mary starts getting ready for bed. She sees the man outside the window. 


Alison Leiby: Nope. 


Halle Kiefer: Again. He has full white face and eyeshadow. And it is funny cause I do think the 60s like, wow, a man in makeup was the most terrifying thing they could imagine. 


Yeah, yep. 


Like, it destroyed everything. 


Alison Leiby: Chilling. 


Halle Kiefer: Whereas now it’s like, oh, I’m sorry, the party is next door, I’m sorry, you can you came to the right place.  


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Or like the— 


Alison Leiby: And like, do you know where there’s a good like, coffee shop around here? Like, it’s just— [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Like there would I, if anything, I feel better if he’s wearing makeup because I’m like, I could contextualize—


Alison Leiby: I feel much safer. 


Halle Kiefer: Just a guy looking through the window, well, we’re gonna have to have a different conversation. In the morning, Mary goes to meet the priest at her new church. He invites her to a social to meet everybody. And Mary is like, I’m not doing that. He says, well, you know, you can’t let yourself live in isolation, dear. And that’s a common theme, is that Mary feels disconnected and is isolated and kind of struggles to fit in as as we all do. But Mary’s like, I am here to do my job, and my job is to play the organ like a motherfucker. And she sits down and she just starts shredding. And the priest is thrilled, right? And he’s like, I’ll let you practice. I’ll be next door. And then you see the priest hug a woman. And I was like, you see the priest and his mom. I don’t know who this lady is. 


Alison Leiby: Oy, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. They’re listening from downstairs and they’re loving the organ movie music. And we also see a guy, like, like doing some sort of lawn work, and he looks over and everyone’s just thrilled to hear the organ. 


Alison Leiby: Good. 


Halle Kiefer: And it is a beautiful. It’s the most absurd musical instrument. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, it really is when you like, think about it and look at it, you’re like. Why?


Halle Kiefer: You really went for it with that. 


Alison Leiby: We did, we did. 


Halle Kiefer: So, she’s practicing and she’s looking she’s looking at all the stained glass in the church. Gorgeous church. We see the man in the white face enter the church, and the music cuts out when the priest comes back upstairs just to check everything Mary is away from the organ is, examining a stained glass window. He says, oh, what do you see? And she’s like, oh no, I’m nothing. I’m. Everything’s fine. It’s like, okay, well, you know, I have an errand to run near the lake. Would you want to come with me? And I’ll sort of show you around the town? 


Alison Leiby: That sounds so vague, even though I feel like it’s fine in the scenario, but, like, I have to go write errands near the lake. It’s like I have to dump a body. Want to come with? 


Halle Kiefer: Well, one he’s a priest, so it’s like I, an elderly priest was like, I don’t know what kind of errands visiting somebody. Maybe we can’t make it to the church. And she says, I would love that. Could we go to that pavilion? And she’s like, yeah. Would you like to go check it out? She’s like, I would if I was with you, which I think is a good policy. Mary. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Let’s not do things alone that are scary. 


Halle Kiefer: So we go and they drive up to the entrance and Mary says, would you go in with me? And he says, oh, that’s actually illegal to go on the grounds like it’s cordoned off. And I’m a priest, so it would be unseemly for me to go do that. Also, why do you want to go in? It’s an abandoned carnival grounds, you know, there’s nothing going on. 


Alison Leiby: It feels not like a young woman’s fun activity. 


Halle Kiefer: She says, I don’t know, I, I, I feel drawn to it in some way. I guess I want to satisfy my curiosity that it’s not more than it seems. Well, maybe I’ll come back later and they turn and leave. And of course, watching them as they go from inside one of the abandoned carnival buildings. It is the man. And I’m going to call him the Carnival Man. He’s credited as the man. But I want to be clear that he is the carnival man. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s a very carnival guy. On Wikipedia he’s called the man. And then in parentheses it says the main ghoul. [laughs] And he is. He’s the most the ghoul that appears the most. We can all agree with that. And it is funny because I thought of him as a ghoul without reading that like he is. That’s the word for it. It’s like, oh, I have a ghoul outside. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s not a creature. 


Alison Leiby: Ghoul’s night out. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Listen, he’s gonna have a lot of ghouls nights out before the end of this. So he, of course, is watching. Mary heads back to the boarding house. She and the boarding house lady kiki, about her staying there and are really bonding. And, the boarding house lady says, oh, you know, the only person staying here is Mr. Linden. He’s like the two doors down from you. And she asked, oh, Mary did you have dinner? And Mary goes, Oh, I completely forgot. Cannot relate. And lady says, you know, this ain’t no boardinghouse. And I at this point was like, if it’s not a boarding house, what the hell is this? I think it’s a rooming house, which I don’t know the distinction. 


Alison Leiby: I, I don’t think that that’s, like a thing anymore. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. I think we’re gonna think boardinghouse. You would have dinner provided, but as of right now. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s just you rent a room. 


Alison Leiby: It’s just a bed yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And you buy your own groceries. And Mary says it’s like you don’t have to do that. She says, and I have some sandwich fixings. Would you want me to bring it up to you? I was like, that’s that’s a real service here. 


Alison Leiby: That’s nice. 


Halle Kiefer: In this rooming house. 


Alison Leiby: I’ll take a sandwich. 


Halle Kiefer: And, Mary says, you know, I think you mentioned taking a bath. The other that last night. I think that sounds so good. I’m going to take all those baths you mentioned, and she says and use all the water you want. I ain’t one to make a fuss about a thing like that. 


Alison Leiby: That feels weird.


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know if it’s just like a—


Alison Leiby: Is it supposed to feel weird?


Halle Kiefer: I think so, but I also think, like, I don’t know, it could be a Salt Lake thing. You know what I mean. 


Alison Leiby: If somebody kept being like, take a bath, as many baths as you want, use all the water. I’d be like, that sounds like something I’m not supposed to do now.


Halle Kiefer: Mary is not catching on to it. So we see her take a bath and there’s a knock at the door. She’s assume it’s as Mrs. Thomas, and she says, oh, come in. And the person goes to open the door, but there’s a chain lock on it. Alison. It is not Mrs. Thomas. It is some guy we have not seen before. 


Alison Leiby: Of course it’s some guy. 


Halle Kiefer: And of course he then closes the door. She says, oh, sorry, I’ll be right there. And without thinking, she puts on a robe or like a towel. She undoes the lock and she opens the door. And when the when the guy sees the door open, he steps into the room. Alison, at this point, the movie. What would you do? 


[voice over]: What would you do? 


Alison Leiby: I’m going to another place. I’m. I’m leaving. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. 


Alison Leiby: I’m. I’m getting out of Salt Lake. Going back to Ohio. Face my demons there. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I feel like it is. My answer would be go apeshit in the moment.


Alison Leiby: Yeah. At the moment. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. Freak out. 


Alison Leiby: I’d say that I have a gun. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. That’s a great point. 


Alison Leiby: I feel like I have a gun in here. And then hope that that is scary. 


Halle Kiefer: I love that. 




Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So, it is Mr. Linden, the other resident, the other boarder who proceeds to barge in and hit on Mary in her robe, in her towel, which she’s clearly very uncomfortable with, and she’s trying to close the door and, like, ask him to leave. And she says, well, could you please, please wait? And she goes and runs and puts her robe on. And it is he watches her through the crack in the door and there’s like sultry music playing. And I do appreciate there’s not as much normalization of a peeping Tom or like a private spying which as a woman. Is it a lot of stuff that you wouldn’t expect it to be. And growing up, I was I was like, well, that’s not good. If that’s something that men are doing and we’re all just sort of. 


Alison Leiby: Men are just always watching us do stuff without letting us know they’re doing. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. It is just uncomfortable to think about. 


Alison Leiby: Very. 


Halle Kiefer: She goes on to talk to Mr. Linda and, and she’s literally trying to push the door closed on him and he just sort of he’s just running any game he can come up with, he’s like, oh, it’s only us here. You’re new to town. Let me take you to dinner. You don’t want to dinner alone? It sure seems lonesome in your room here alone. And she’s like, I am not interested. I already have plans to have dinner brought to my room. I don’t need to hang out with you. And he’s like, well, we’ll try again tomorrow. Like, clearly he it’s not even that. He’s not picking it up. She’s physically shutting the door and he’s pushing back up. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. There’s no there’s no question of what her interest in this which is please leave my room. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Right. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s able to push him out. But then when she opens the door later and checks the hallway, she approaches the stairwell and looks down and she sees at the bottom of the man, the carnival man. 


Alison Leiby: The ghoul or the—


Halle Kiefer: The carnival man. Yes. The ghoul. 


Alison Leiby: Carnival man. 


Halle Kiefer: She of course, runs to her room screaming. There’s immediately, knock on the door. 


Alison Leiby: Of course he’s around. 


Halle Kiefer:  She’s like, oh my God, it’s the ghoul! No, this time it is Mrs. Thomas. And she does have a sandwich and coffee and Mary basically. 


Alison Leiby: At night? 


Halle Kiefer: Well, and we’ll get into it. Mary said, well, who is that freaky guy? But of course Mrs. Thomas doesn’t see him. And. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: But Mary’s like, I think this guy’s been following me. And Mrs. Thomas says, it sounds like you really need to eat a meal. You just moved here. You’re all discombobulated. Eat this. Go to bed. It’s totally fine. It’s just you miss me and Mr. Linden, who also sucks. So that’s not much of a consolation, but Mary’s like. Okay, I guess maybe I am kind of rattled. And, you know, I was in that car accident last week. And so Mrs. Thomas leaves and says, hey, don’t drink the coffee if it keeps you up. You’re already kind of jittery. Mary says good night. And she takes a drink of the coffee and she sort of wearily sighs and says, you know, like drinking a cup never keeps me up. Cut to her eyes wide open and staring out the window at three in the morning, which is a genuinely funny cut, like it’s just like‚


Alison Leiby: Yes, that is really funny. 


Halle Kiefer: It never keeps you up. Staring daggers out the window looking for the ghoul to arrive. 


Alison Leiby: It’s also just reminding me of the scene in airplane where the couple is ordering coffee and the guy gets a second. He’s like, you know, I will have a second cup. And then you hear the, like, interior monologue of his wife going like, that’s odd. Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home. And then like later when everybody’s like getting sick and going then she’s like, that’s odd. Jim never vomits at home. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s funny. 


Alison Leiby: So funny. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And we also see her get up in the night and look out the window, of course, at the sprawling, carnival pavilion in the distance. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: In the morning, Mr. Linden stops by again. 


Alison Leiby: Great. 


Halle Kiefer: And I was like, oh, my God, this guy this time he’s got a mug into, like, a coffee carafe. And, Mary is much more welcoming, like she’s much warmer. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And again, I was like, okay, so now they’re chill. I was like, well, I guess we made progress and I can’t guess what their dynamics supposed to be from my exhausted, twisted. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: 2024 brain. That’s fair. So I was like, okay. But again, this they do explore this in an interesting way. So that’s what happens. I’m like, all right, well, I guess maybe I didn’t understand what last night was about. And he gives her coffee, offers a shot of whiskey in her coffee. She says I’m a church organist. And he’s like, oh, I’m sorry. 


Alison Leiby: I thought it was just a job for her.


Halle Kiefer: He was like, oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’re religious. She’s like, no, it’s just a job. I’m a professional organist. It’s like, well, what’s the mixed messages? Gal.


Alison Leiby: What the fuck are we talking about? 


Halle Kiefer: And he says, wow, you don’t care about the church. I think I like that, doesn’t it give you nightmares? And she says, I have been having a I did feel weird last night. Not for that reason. I obviously don’t give a fuck about a religion, but, I don’t know why it couldn’t possibly be that haunted carnival I could see from my window. It’s probably something else. 


Alison Leiby: No, that wouldn’t keep you up at night.


Halle Kiefer: We find out that Mr. Linden works on a warehouse, and he clearly has a chip on his shoulder. Like anytime she pushes back or seems smarter than him, he’s like, oh, you don’t have to use all these big words with me, honey? Like, I, I, I’m a blue collar guy, and she’s a musician, and she’s obviously, like, very well-spoken and stunningly beautiful. And she’s and he’s like, oh, yeah, last night you didn’t want to talk to me. She’s like, well, you know, I guess everything seems better in the daylight at night, your fantasies can get out of hand. Again. They kiki. And she says, see, this is what I needed this morning. Thank you. I actually did need to speak to someone. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s like, well, you might you might need it tonight too. She says, well, I sure you have to go to work, Mr. Linden. And he says, well don’t you? And she says oh no, today I have the whole day free for shopping. And she shuts the door in his face. 


Alison Leiby: That’s amazing. 


Halle Kiefer: Time for a shopping scene. 


Alison Leiby: My God, I would love, like, a montage in a dressing room.  


Halle Kiefer: Well, so we we do. We. She only tries on one thing, but she looks great in it, and she’s talking to a shop girl. She’s trying on this, like, very chic black dress. And the shop girl is talking about it. She goes back into the dressing room to, change into her regular dress. And when she looks, the air seems to shimmer an warp and it’s just for a second. And she puts her original dress back on. When she walks right up, she takes the dress. The shop girl says, okay, I’m ready to check out. The shop girl reacts like she doesn’t even see Mary. Even though they had just been chatting moments before. Mary, of course, freaks out, runs up to another woman, runs up to a man. No one in the department store will answer or acknowledge her and seemingly can’t hear her. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: She runs out to the street. Same deal. She’s just like walking by people, no one’s seeing her, no one’s responding to her. She ends up in a park under a tree, and we see her reach up and grab a branch to ground herself, and she looks up. There’s a bird chirping in the leaves. And we see her walk to a drinking fountain, and when she looks up, she sees dark men’s pants and she looks up and gasps, Alison. You know it’s the carnival, man. 


Alison Leiby: Of course it’s the carnival man. 


Halle Kiefer: But when she runs, she slams into a, she’s basically, runs through the arms of another man. And when she looks back, it’s not the carnival, man. It’s just some random guy who says, I’m sorry. I was just waiting to have a drink. And the man whose arms she is now in, and he said, my name is Mr. Samuels. You clearly had a fright. Control yourself. My office is right across the street. If you’d like to step in there and talk to me. And I was like, watch your uterus. These guys. Doctor’s back in. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, they—


Halle Kiefer: Control yourself. 


Alison Leiby: All Kinds of kooky shit. 


Halle Kiefer: I mean. I’m just saying, like, this is there’s some there’s going to be some sort of, therapy he’s going to try to fix you with. You know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And she says, can I go with you now? And he says, yes. So they go into Doctor Samuel’s office and he basically she talks sitting in a chair, and he turns with the back of the chair to her to take notes. I don’t know if that was a 60s thing. I don’t know if it was just to set up something later. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But she says, look, I was in this car accident ten, a week ago, basically, I was in this car accident. I moved here. I don’t know anyone. I keep seeing this guy. And then for about 15 minutes, no one could see or hear me as if I wasn’t a part of the world around me. And I don’t know what to do. And he turns back to her and says, sorry, I’m sorry for turning my back. I just want to write something down. She’s like, well, I’ve been  talking for an hour and my point is, this stuff’s happening and I can’t explain it. But I do know that man is following me. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And Doctor Samuel says, girl, let’s cut the shit, okay? This guy can’t fly around and be everywhere at once. If I had been in the park, me and that other guy would have seen him. I didn’t see anyone else. Do you think maybe this could be trauma after your car accident? She’s like, I’m a reasonable person. I am a realist. I’m not just seeing a guy follow me around. 


Alison Leiby: Right? 


Halle Kiefer: He says, look, I’m not telling you what you’re experiencing, but I’m saying it’s completely reasonable that your brain would be trying to rationalize what’s going on, you know? He’s like, all right. Have you never walked over to someone at a party and thought it was your best friend? And they got there it was somebody else? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Have you never walked into a room and been convinced? Oh, they were just talking about me. And then they were talking about something else. Like, the brain is trying to make connections, right? So it makes sense that you had this extremely traumatic experience. You moved across the country, you don’t know anyone. Maybe your brain is playing tricks on you. And she says, well, I guess I just I have always felt that I sort of don’t know how to fit in and, and be a part of society. And Alison, the example she gives us. I don’t want to have a boyfriend. He says, well, how long have you felt that way? She says, I don’t know. I guess I didn’t think about it till now. 


Alison Leiby: Got it. 


Halle Kiefer: And she says I don’t, I don’t know if I’m capable of being close to people. And he’s like well I mean I think you just have to cut yourself some slack here Mary. You’ve had a tough week. And just accept that perhaps part of this is psychological. And if you come and if you see me, then we’ll sort of unpack it. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And Mary’s like, I don’t have. I’m a professional organist. I’m not here to play games. Doctor Samuels, if my imagination is playing tricks on me and I can stop it by finally addressing it, then I’m going to the carnival pavilion and he’s like, oh, right, the carnival pavilion is part of this, too. I mean, clearly, like there’s some significance to you. Like you’re drawn to it. Again, I think this is something we should talk about. 


Alison Leiby: I do think that’s something that should get talked about. 


Halle Kiefer: And she’s like, or if this is all in my head and it’s part of it, then I should just go there right now. Like, I can’t live like this. I can’t be terrorized with some guy showing up. I have a new job. 


Alison Leiby: I’m a church organist and I’m obsessed with the carnival. 


Halle Kiefer: And she stands up and says, the time is to go is now. And if I have to go, I’ll go alone. And she storms out. 


Alison Leiby: I need Kristen Wiig to do  a movie to do this movie.


Halle Kiefer: And I think it’s like, I don’t want it to be like, I’m making fun of this. I love this movie. It’s incredible. 


Alison Leiby: It’s played this version, and it makes sense to me as like a good, scary psychological movie of the 60s. But to make it now and have it be Kristen Wiig, now I know how she is as an actress. Like, it would be so funny. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: It’s like if did you ever see her? Lifetime movie with Will Ferrell. 


Alison Leiby: I saw parts of it I didn’t watch it all, but yeah it’s—


Halle Kiefer: They pretty much play it seriously, but then, like the moments where A Deadly Adoption 2015, like, it’s just a perfect parody of that. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And there’s really only a couple scenes that are comedic and they hit so much harder as a result of it. Like it’s serious. And then she has to, like, take a rowboat to like, save someone’s life or something. It’s it’s. 


Alison Leiby: So funny. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s so funny. Like point by point remake of this show, her playing it totally straight is the way to go. And with that being said, Alison, at this point, the film who will survive? 


[voice over]: Who will survive. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t think Mary is going to make it. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm mm hmm mm hmm. Okay. And how about Mr. Linden. What do we think about him?


Alison Leiby: Mr. Linden I think he will be. He will be. He’ll die. I think our carnival ghoul will will survive. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And, how about the priest in the church? 


Alison Leiby: I think he’ll survive. And he maybe goes on and tells her story moving forward. 


Halle Kiefer: Great. 




Halle Kiefer: Okay, so she’s just fucking going to the carnival grounds alone.


Alison Leiby: About fucking time. But. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I mean, we’re we’re getting a good look at it, right? So, she wanders around the abandoned buildings. There’s a big metal indoor slide, which I remember those from being a kid from carnivals. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So fun. We see a cushion come sliding down. No one’s on it. Of course. We see her walk past as a sign for salt water. Water bathing like you could basically go to the carnival and then walk down to the beach, which would be really fun. 


Alison Leiby: That’s the part I would enjoy. 


Halle Kiefer: And also, she’s wearing heels this entire movie, so she’s like walking through this abandoned, wreck of a place on sand, like. And she looks great doing it. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She finds herself inside of a gigantic room that’s basically part bowling alley. Part dance hall. It’s it’s gigantic. Which does sound fun.


Alison Leiby: People really knew how to, like, entertain in the 60s and 50s. There were activities. Third spaces. 


Halle Kiefer: The internet didn’t exist. Right. So, like, now the internet is our third space. Really? 


Alison Leiby: The internet is my bowling alley. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but back then, they’re like a gorgeous abandoned bowling alley. We’ve got to do it. We’ve got to bring it to the town. She walks onto the pier and of course we see, though she doesn’t at the time, the floating in the water is the corpse of the carnival man. Alison. It was a—


Alison Leiby: Is the carnival man dad? 


Halle Kiefer: Well, I think we can go ahead and say he’s he’s been dead. He didn’t he didn’t he didn’t just die in that moment. He has been, part of the supernatural this whole time. 


Alison Leiby: Got it got it got it. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But it was a bust. She goes and walks around. Nothing happens. She goes back to her house or back to the boarding house, and Mr. Linden tries to ask her out again, and this time she is totally a cold fish. She’s like, I’m already. I’ve already eaten. I have to go practice the organ like I do. And he goes, what are you afraid of, man? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, again, Mr. Linden, I first of all. 


Alison Leiby: Sir yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Second of all, I have a job. I’m a professional organist. I don’t fuck around. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: He says you seem so cold this morning. You were so warm. Mary says, yeah, this morning I really needed company. He says, well, how about this? You let me walk you home and I’ll show you a place around here. That’s nice. It’s better than walking home alone. 


Alison Leiby: Is it? 


Halle Kiefer: And Mary looks really sad and says, I guess you’re right. And boy, doesn’t that say it all. Been there sister. That night we see Mary playing in the church. She starts to hear her music and then other organ music. [music plays] And there’s this great moment where, like, she stops playing and she can still hear the organ music, and then she lifts, lifts her hands, and when she looks down, she’s playing the music, and she enters this sort of fugue state where she’s sort of playing the organ music and starts to see images for one of them being the carnival man emerging out of the salt lake, soaking wet, walking towards her. 


Alison Leiby: Not great. 


Halle Kiefer: And then a woman, and then another woman, and then another man just figures emerging out of the lake, coming towards her. And we also see images of the carnival when it was open. So it’s like she’s playing this more and more cacophonous, bizarre organ music and couples are dancing. They’re spinning around the big, big dance hall. And what a carnival. Truly, I would love to go to this carnival. Looks like blast. The carnival man approaches her in her reverie, and he holds out his hands as if he’s about to strangle her. Alison, in real life, we see the priest’s hands slam down on Mary’s hands, and he’s like, what kind of organ music is this? And she’s startled. But again, she’s still kind of in a fugue state. He says. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: This is blasphemous. Why are you playing this in The House of God? This organ is an instrument of God. This. This place has meaning to us. If it doesn’t to you too, than I pity you and your lack of soul. 


Alison Leiby: Jesus. 


Halle Kiefer: And I must ask you to resign as organist. 


Alison Leiby: Oh no! 


Halle Kiefer: Mary stands up again. She’s a woman of pride. She also seems to be some sort of supernatural, stupor. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: She picks up her music and she’s about to walk out. The priest goes, I’m not turning my back on you. There’s help here for you, is I, and I hope you accept it. You literally just fired her. 


Alison Leiby: Fired her. 


Halle Kiefer: Bitch. Grow up. 


Alison Leiby: You yelled at her and fired her, and then you’re like, but we’ll help you. And it’s like. 


Halle Kiefer: You thought you thought she was playing an organ too fast and good, and you got scared and fired her. You did turn your back on her. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, absolutely. It’s the definition of it. 


Halle Kiefer: Mary walks out and Linden has been waiting there and he says, boy, you had me waiting a long time. Again, he basically forced her to let you walk her home. And he says, let me just show you the place I had in my head. You know, we’ll get a drink. We go to this bar, it’s hopping, people are dancing, they’re having a beer. But Mary looks like completely uninterested and incredibly sad. Of course, Linden doesn’t actually care about her as a person, so he’s getting drunker and he starts to get meaner, right? He’s like, oh, so you don’t drink either. You don’t like to dance. You know what to drink. Just say it. You don’t like a man to hold you close, is that it? Been there again. Been there girl. Linden goes out. He goes to put quarters in the jukebox and his friend says, who’s that? That’s not one of those pigs you’re usually dragging around. And Linden, it’s like, don’t even think about it. I got something cooking on the stove. And Fred says, yeah, well, let me help you boil it over. And Linden comes back and he’s like, how do I get this, this broad to like he says, we owes a college friend of mine. He was going to bring over a woman who wanted to meet me, but I said, no, I’m here with the hottest woman in town. And Mary’s basically silent and staring you because she’s being haunted by a ghoul. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, she’s got other stuff going on. 


Halle Kiefer: And again, Linden, like, because she’s not giving him attention just starts to get madder and madder. And he’s like, oh, are you not going to drink? And she takes a little sip of beer and he goes, I paid good money for that. It’s not poison. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, well, now I’m going to think it is. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. He’s like, I don’t get you yesterday you put me off. But I get it. You’re class and today everything I say is okay. You’re like a mouse now. And Mary tells him yesterday he didn’t care and now I do. I want to be here with you. And she says, you says you want to be here with me or with anybody. And she tells him with you. He says, well, why don’t you thaw out now? Or maybe you don’t even want me talking to you. And he turns away and Mary’s like, no, no, I just I don’t want to be alone tonight. I want to be near you. This movie is about compat. You know what I was gonna say? 


Alison Leiby: You know it. 


Halle Kiefer: I like watching this. I was like, she doesn’t want to be a lone because there’s a ghoul. And as a man, it’s like, well, I there’s obviously a level of protection, even though this guy is being very mean to me. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: For, at every point. But she says, no, I don’t want to be alone tonight. I want to be with you tonight. And he immediately he’s all smiles. He takes her hand. He says, well, how about we go back to the boarding house? And Mary looks so absolutely miserable as they go back home because it’s penetration o’clock. Alison. Her least favorite time of day, from the sounds of it. 


Alison Leiby: Seems like it. 


Halle Kiefer: So they walk back and she’s sober. Linden is, like, staggering and falling against the wall. 


Alison Leiby: Cool, cool vibes. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And they get to her door and it’s this great sequence where it’s dark on the inside, so they’re a little bit behind. He’s like, you don’t want to go in there all by yourself, do you? Let me come in for a while. You don’t want to be alone. And she pushes him off really angrily, but then she says no, and she goes over and she, like, turns away and puts her head on a dresser, and he comes up behind her starts kissing her neck. And when Mary looks up, it’s the carnival man. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, of course it is. 


Halle Kiefer: She starts screaming and panicking and Linden says, what’s wrong with you? And she says, there’s a man following me. And I went to the carnival. I don’t want to be left alone again. That is what compat feels like. At least this is enough to put Linden off his lunch. And when he runs out, Mary screaming and crying, and she starts pushing all the furniture in front of the door. Now you’d say, Mary, the carnival ghoul showed up. He just materialized in the mirror, the door is not the issue. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I don’t think that like a desk and a chair is going to stop him. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. In the morning, Mrs. Thomas is there, and she’s talking to Doctor Samuels, and she says, I’m so glad you happened by, like. Well, I came to visit her because I saw a session yesterday and I was kind of concerned. I just want to make sure she’s okay. She seems to refuse my help, but I don’t know, I, I I’m not sure what to tell her. She she’s had so much trauma recently, and Mrs. Thomas says, well, I can’t have her in my house. She’s screaming and crying, moving furniture around like, I just I can’t do it. And doctor was like, no worries. I spoke to her. She wants to leave town immediately. Mrs. Thomas was like, well, I hope she does leave, doctor Samuel replies, I hope she can. A little bit later on, Mary goes to leave and Mrs. Thomas says, you know, I can’t refund your weeks of rent when you leave like this. And Mary looks at her, says nothing, and just walks out. On her way out of town, Alison. Mary’s car starts to breakdown. It’s jerking, it’s lurching. She’s forced to go to the gas station she visited on her way out of town. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And she pulls into the garage he says it sounds like it’s a transmission, but I’ll have to put it up and take a look at it. And she says, do you. Can I just sit in here? He says, suit yourself. I didn’t know you could sit in there. I mean you probably can’t anymore. That seems dangerous. You don’t think? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t think you can. 


Halle Kiefer: No, I feel like some idiot. Or by that mean I would just open the door.


Alison Leiby: I saw a TikTok of someone who, like, was napping in the back of their car when it got taken. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh no. 


Alison Leiby: And then, like, all of a sudden they woke up and they were like, the car was raised on the thing and like, no one was really around. 


Alison Leiby: That’s funny. 


Alison Leiby: And they were like, oh no. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: That’s very funny. 


Alison Leiby: So. 


Halle Kiefer: But he’s like, yeah, go ahead. So he raises the car up. And now she’s basically trapped there. She’s trapped herself in the air. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: We see another car pull in and the tenant has to go pump the gas. There’s only one guy, so he goes out to pump this other car’s gas Alison, the door of the garage creaks open. We hear the sound of a man entering the garage. 


Alison Leiby: Not great. 


Halle Kiefer: Sounds like some kind of a carnival man. 


Alison Leiby: I bet it is. 


Halle Kiefer: From the sound of it. He, of course, the the he turns the lift in the car are slowly lowering, and it sounds like he’s coming around the driver’s side, and Mary sort of, like, lurches over to the passenger side and then falls out the passenger side door, and when she does. She goes, oh, but she’s okay. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: She gets up, she starts hauling ass again, all in heels, having to run so much of this movie hauls ass down the street. She runs to the bus station and runs over the cashier and says, when is the next eastbound bus leaving Alison? We see the air shimmer. The cashier cannot hear her. And the guy who’s next in line kind of pushes past her. She’s begging him like, I want, I need to get out of here. I need to leave. And we hear an announcement. The eastbound bus is leaving on gate nine. She runs down Alison. She boards the bus. It is entirely full of ghouls. 


Alison Leiby: All ghouls? 


Halle Kiefer: All ghouls, everyone—


Alison Leiby: Ghoul oops, all ghouls. 


Halle Kiefer: Like they’re going to ghoul school bitch. [both speaking] Everyone has white make and they all kind of start laughing. And as they stand up, she of course runs out panicked. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: She actually runs out of the train station. She’s tried she, she I appreciate she’s trying everything. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. And good that there are bus and train stations for her to go to.


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. It looks like a beautiful city, Salt Lake. She runs through a doorway just as people are leaving, and she slams into the door and it’s like, please let me out, please. You can see me, can’t you? And she looks through and she looks shocked. And I think we’re to think she saw the carnival man again. We see her running down an alley after she escapes and a car almost hits her. And we hear in voiceover, why can’t they see me? What is happening? She runs up to a cop and at this point, Mary, this is on you. You know this is how it’s going to go. The cop, the cop car pulls away. She runs to the taxis, girl. The answer is no one can see you. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. She runs back to the park and she reaches, puts her hand on the same branch, and she hears a bird chirping the exact same way. She’s like, oh, right, doctor Sam’s office in near here, she runs to Doctor Samuel’s office. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Again, she talks to him. His back is to her in the chair as he writes. It’s like—


[clip of Candace Hilligoss]: I came to you, doctor. Because you’re my my last hope. He’s trying to take me back somewhere. Doctor, you’ve got to tell me what to do. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. The chair turns around. Who do you think’s in that chair? 


Alison Leiby: Carnival ghoul. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s the carnival man. Mary of course screams. She jerks her head up. It turns out she had just dozed off in the garage. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And the car is now on the floor, and she backs up as the attendant runs out and she peels away. The car seems totally fine. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And the attendant, I think, we’re to think the attendant didn’t even do anything. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: I was like, okay. Unfortunately, she knows she can’t just drive out of town. This is going to follow her. She has to go back to the carnival grounds to find out what the fuck. Where does this carnival man want to take me? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She parks and we see sort of. She’s staring out over the dry lake bed, and we sort of see these images come to her again. We see the carnival man emerging from the lake and two ghoulish women emerging. We see night falls and lights come up. And as Mary watches the couples from her sort of, organ mania visions start to dance amongst the shining silver decorations and they all have ghoulish makeup on which I love. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. Chic.


Halle Kiefer: And there’s so there’s great shots where, like, the camera is basically looking up into individual’s faces, like as the ghouls dance. And there’s this woman who just looks dead in the camera, but it’s very affecting, actually. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah I bet. 


And she sees herself as a ghoul dancing, and she and the carnival man dance around and around. So we have, like, a normal Mary and a ghoul Mary. It really is. Ghouls night out. 


Alison Leiby: Ghouls night out. 


Halle Kiefer: And he dips her and they freeze as if in an old timey photo, and Mary screams. Alison. Her scream alerts all of the ghouls. The dancing ghouls turn and start chasing after her. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: She runs out of the hall and I was shocked to find it’s actually still daylight. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: So I was like, oh, I guess we were inside. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And her imagining was at night, but it’s a for 2 p.m. as far as I could tell. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, sure. 


Halle Kiefer: And they chase her under the dance hall, through under the pier and onto the beach, and they’re leaping out from pillars as she screams. Her hair looks better than ever. Her hair looks better in the scene than the rest of the movie, which I absolutely loved. She runs and the ghoulish crowd chases her down on the beach, and she falls, and she looks up and they descend upon her. Some time later. The priest and the sheriff. They go to the carnival grounds where her car was found, and the sheriff says you can see her footprints and it looks like she fell here. But then nothing. And Alison, we cut back to that lonely wooden bridge in her hometown. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Where they finally found the car. It took a little while, but they’re now dragging it out with a winch. And when they pulled up, all three girls are inside, including Mary. Dead. Yeah. The Carnival of Souls. That’s a good one, huh?


Alison Leiby: Yeah. So she was dead the whole time? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah, it was—


Alison Leiby: Her dying. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah. Which freaks me out. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. That’s scary. That’s the scary ending. 


Halle Kiefer: What are some fatal mistakes? You think, well there’s really only one? [both speaking] Mean? What are the fatal mistakes you think were made in Carnival of Souls? 


[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 


Alison Leiby: Drag racing. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. That’s it. I mean, everything else. I mean, she’s a great organist. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s a can do lady. Again, she’s a lesbian or queer in some way and fighting against that in a heteronormative society. But for the most part, it was just the drag—


Alison Leiby: Racing without drag racing. Yeah. Everybody would have been okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And also, Mary was not the one driving, so it wasn’t even her mistake. It was her boyfriend’s mistake.


Alison Leiby: I’m sad that it like, she’s just kind of like a. Casualty of this a bystander. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, unfortunately. But I do think that that is the takeaway. This is do not drag race. 


Alison Leiby: Don’t drag race. 


Halle Kiefer: Teens any age, especially teens. I know you’re thinking, have a cigarette, get in that car. Just fucking drag. But don’t do it. 


Alison Leiby: Don’t do it. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s too fun and you will end up in some sort of carnival purgatory. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, and that’s kind of the worst purgatory there is, I think. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. Because at the end, are they taking her to hell? It doesn’t seem like a good afterlife. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I don’t think it’s like, come up in these nice clouds. It’s puffy and nice. I think it’s—


Halle Kiefer: You got to be in the lake. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: You’re in the lake bye. 


Halle Kiefer: You’re in the lake now. And with that being said, would you like to place Carnival of Souls on the spooky scale Alison?


[voice over]: A spooky scale. 


Alison Leiby: I think this is a four. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I think like the ending is definitely scary and kind of like the unsettling nature of like kind of her existence throughout the movie is like scary, but not a lot of, like, big jump scares or a lot of blood. So I would, a four.  


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. It’s much more of like a dreamy, creepy, creeping dread, which makes sense for what this month is, which is madness. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So constantly, not being able to judge your own, experience of the world. Is that a ghoul? What will the ghouls plans for me be? Should he find me? Should I agree to date a man even though I don’t want a boyfriend? I’ve told that to my therapist. Well, these are the questions that, you can only answer. When you are living a death. I am gonna give it a five. I’m gonna give it a five. But again, excellent movie. Really glad we did it. I mean. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, fun one. 


Halle Kiefer: A classic for a reason, much like we did, Night of Living Dead, where it’s like, that is a classic forever. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It is beautifully shot. It is well-acted, like everything about it. It’s like it works as well today as it did back then. And obviously this is much more of like a surreal nightmare movie versus like something more traditional, but, beautiful. Really great. 


Alison Leiby: Really great. 


Halle Kiefer: Really great stuff. Herk Harvey.


Alison Leiby: And, this we should have said it at the top. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh my God. 


Alison Leiby: It’s out 200th episode. 


Halle Kiefer: Yay. Thank you for remembering that I completely forgot. Oh, well, we did it. Do have things to say. Anything to note? 


Alison Leiby: I’ll tell you. I don’t remember 199 of em. So. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yeah. What do you feel like you have you feel you learned anything about the genre? Like did you learn anything about your feelings about horror? Maybe. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s like stuff where I’m like, oh, I like that. And I recognize that now from, from doing, you know. You know, there are certain kind of like demons that have vibes or kind of, killers origin stories that feel like it’s like, oh, okay. I can kind of like, see what? I’m loving it. I never want to stop. I want to do this with you forever. Until we’re at a carnival ourselves. 


Halle Kiefer: I can’t wait. I hope we hope we end up at the same carnival. That seems like not so bad. You know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah. At least if, like, your friends are there. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Hang out with your friends. Do you any any notes on on 200 episodes of this psychotic podcast? [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I feel really like, it makes you appreciate the care that goes into horror. And I know I, we got an email recently where someone’s like, oh I don’t like it when Halle does movie she doesn’t like it’s about 13 Ghosts. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And I hear you but I, I need a place to vent. And this seems, as good as any. 


Alison Leiby: This is the right arena.


Halle Kiefer: Right. But also it does, and also, I did end up at least appreciating 13 Ghosts by the end of it, but I think it really to to do a scare. Well, you I feel like having seen as many movies as we’ve done, and I’ve obviously seen many more that we haven’t done. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Is to appreciate the craft of filmmaking, and particularly around creating all the elements that lead up to a scare and how, as a moviegoer, how I just appreciated so much more having seen so many movies where they don’t really land the plane. But other movies where they land so many different kinds of planes, so many different kinds of scares, so many different parts of our psyche that are like getting prickled by it. So I would say it’s just a deep gratitude for horror and a real appreciation of everyone who has ever done it right in any way. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, and if you’re someone who was a writer of horror, like, I really believe that if you need horror, horror needs you. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I think like, if you have something to offer, then that you just have to write it. I think. Sorry, the entertainment industry is collapsing, so I’m not going to, like, make any promises. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But I think you can know what you have to give to a genre. And I’m assuming other like if you if you write romcoms, you probably feel this way. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Or like drama is like, there probably isn’t. I was like, well, I have something to share. And that is because the genre shared something with me and I think that’s beautiful. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So thank you for listing, everybody. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And, hey, to 200 more.


Alison Leiby: To 200 more. I was about to say the same to 200 more. And please, for the 200th time, we have to ask you as we leave to please keep it spooky. 


Halle Kiefer: Bye. Don’t forget to follow us at Ruined podcasts and Crooked Media on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for show updates. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review. Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production, we’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefer and Alison Leiby. The show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy, and Ewa Okulate.