WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL
Alright, first off, a little back story. I discovered The Devil’s Carnival through two venues. One was my love for the writer, Terrance Zdunich, ‘s first film, Repo! The Genetic Opera. Now, I’m not a fan of horror, at least some horror, but I do love me a good musical. That’s what these horror musicals are. They’re good, unique, compelling stories that I adore. They’re easily some of my favourite musicals of all time, and that’s among things like the Disney musicals, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Wicked.
The second venue was Pawdugan’s review of it, which you can find here
Either way, when I found out they were showing the sequel in a theatre in Chicago, I snatched my ticket up faster that you can shout “Amen!”. $23 dollars and a month later and I was in line for Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival. I apologize if I make some spelling mistakes or add things later on, but I’m typing this at midnight on September 12th, my head hurts, my neck hurts, my legs hurt, and I spent most of my day campaigning my club at my school’s involvement fair. Needless to say, I’m tired. I’m typing this up, posting it, and going to bed. Thankfully I don’t have anything to do until 8pm tomorrow.
Anyway, before the screening, there was a pre-show. When I walked in, they were just finishing an acrobatic act with hula hoops (Hey, carnival. It works.) After that, the director, Darren Lynn Bousman, and one of the stars, Emilie Autumn, came out on stage and introduced the opening song of an upcoming musical based off Autumn’s book, ‘The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls’, which you can find on her website. Another of the stars, Adam Pascal (who you might know as the original Roger from Rent) came out to sing it with her. I won’t give anything away, but…*shivers* God, it was chilling. Next, Zdunich and composer, Saar Hendelman, came out and sang two of the songs from the first Devil’s Carnival. Both are amazing singers and it was a treat…I kinda got a Hannibal vibe off the song Zdunich sang, “Trust Me”. Just think about it.
Then the movie started. Now, I won’t give away any spoilers because I want you to see the movie yourself and give these people money to make another one, but I will say this…It’s as good as the first one, but very different.
Whereas the first film took place almost exclusively in Hell, this one has the majority of it set in Heaven. And if you thought Heaven would be better compared to the Hell we saw in the first movie, you are sorely mistaken. Whereas Hell was more like Ordered Chaos, meant to teach wayward souls who would never learn, except for John apparently, the error of their ways, Heaven is a totalitarian state, heavily controlled by God, played by Paul Sorvino, and his Secret Police, I mean KGB, I mean Gestapo, I mean, look you get the idea. Break his rules and you are punished, break too many or too severely and you’re sent to Hell, or have Fallen. The word of the Lord is All and you can’t question it.
Most of the story revolves around a new applicant, oh yeah Heaven is a production company whereas Hell is a carnival, named June, played by Autumn, as she tries to make her way into a higher position in Heaven, as there are 7, and eventually tries to do this through God’s number one man know as The Agent, played by Pascal. All the while balancing this with her relationship with her best friend Cora, played by Lyndon Smith, who just wants to follow the rules.
But don’t worry, you’re favourite carneies from Hell are still around, minus the Hobo Clown, and whatever Alexa Vega’s character was. But it’s made up for with new characters like The Bayonets, a trio of ladies who look like wind-up dolls with swords, hence the name. Some may have reduced or larger roles, but for the most part they’re there.
After the last film where Lucifer declared war on Heaven, he’s begun dropping off wayward souls from Hell on Heaven’s doorstep, upsetting God greatly. This begins a series of clever misdirections and secrets hidden as indifference cultivating in Lucifer’s master plan to invade Heaven with a twist that I did not see coming. Along the way we get some character development for characters like Lucifer and The Ticket Keeper as well as a backstory for one of the carnies which is obvious if you know the actor, but is still a great tragic story of love, falling from grace, and revenge. The film also keeps the last film’s theme of using Aesop’s Fables to tell its story, but this time it’s only one and I won’t give it away. As with the first, the ending also leaves the door open for a sequel which REALLY hope they get.
Something else I noticed was a possible parallel to real life attitude towards immigration in one scene. But who knows, maybe it was just me.
The sets for this film are outstanding. Not only do we have the return of the Hell set from the first film, but we also have the 20sish, 30sish, world of Heaven. The costumes are gorgeous and will definitely spark cosplay ideas for some audience members in the future. The make-up? Wonderful. The acting? Spectacular, especially from a relative newbie actor Autumn opposite Broadway actor Pascal. The music? Outstanding. Easily some of Zdunich’s best, combining jazz that fits Heaven’s set design with music similar to the first film with satisfying results.
I loved this film and highly recommend it. It helps if you’ve seen the first film, but it’s still a good story if you haven’t.
The only thing left to talk about is the Q&A at the end. The highlights include a preview of Zdunich and Hendelman’s next horror musical, American Murder Song, which I’m looking forward to and will, supposedly, be released this year, as well as touching thank yous to Autumn from two audience members, one of whom I actually stood in line with, for helping them through dark times in their life. It was very moving and brought the house to tears.
If you’re not a fan of musicals, this probably won’t change your mind and if you’re a horror fan expecting lots of blood, gore, and a body count, you’re gonna be disappointed. It’s not that kind of horror film.
Well, all I can say now is…buy the CD. Buy the first movie’s DVD. Buy its CD. Go see the tour while/ if you still can. You won’t be disappointed.
Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival still has tour dates going on in many cities across the country until October 18th. Buy your ticket while you can.
(Photo via Me)