STUDIO: R-Squared Films

MSRP: $19.95

RATED: Unrated

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes


Doug Jones interview
Behind the scenes of Carnies
   • Reggie Bannister interview
• “Flying or Falling” music video

   • Slideshow

The Pitch

Reggie Bannister battles an unknown evil that is claiming the lives of the carnies at a local sideshow.

The Humans

Reggie Bannister, Doug Jones, Denise Gossett and Chris Staviski.

The Nutshell

It’s 1936 and the country is in the midst of the Great Depression. A traveling sideshow of freaks and fools wanders into the town of Bakersfield, California. As night rolls around the murders begin, and in the morning the body of a lucky carny is found destroyed. Unable to solve the crime themselves, Detective Ellison (Reggie Bannister) is called in and makes it his job to put an end to the mayhem, and solve the killings at the same time.

“I keep my Scrimm in here.”

The Lowdown

I know some of you, like me, were expecting a rip-roaring debut from first-time director Brian Corder, after his splendid work on such films as Slaughter Party and Zombie Hunter. After years of apprenticeship working as a cinematographer and editor, the opportunity for him to sit in the important chair was too strong for young Mr. Corder to resist.

“Really, Geoffrey, you should stop watching Slipstream“.

Unfortunately for us Carnies is interesting in that it’s pretty horrid. It has that extraordinarily cheap feeling to it, you almost feel bad watching it. I say almost, because seeing Reggie Bannister and Doug Jones in the same film is nearly worth the purchase. Bannister plays the 1930’s cop and seems to have had a genuinely good time working on it. I’d say he was probably just excited to have been working, but a quick glance at his filmography proves otherwise; the man has been consistently busy for several years now which is great. Never enough Reggie.

Doug Jones, on the other hand, should know better by now. After high-profile turns in the Hellboy franchise, the second Fantastic Four flick and Legion, Jones has carved himself out a great career playing creatures, aliens and weird characters. With Carnies the trend continues, except it’s one of his fewer roles without makeup and movies – but is the type of role tand film that should be beneath him now. But at least he gets to leap about as the snake handler, and like Bannister appears to have had a great time in the process.

That’s heartwarming, and their exuberance shines through whenever they’re in the scene.

How about this: that pretty much sums up the only positive thing to say about Carnies! The supporting characters are the same campy sort the cheap horror genre have been running out for decades – and to think this is the 21st century!


Some of the creature designs are decent, along with the makeup work, but it’s nothing fancy and certainly not worth wasting your time over. I’m all for low budget horror films, but where is it written that everything in these things has to be of the worst quality the makers can find? I can see having to cut corners on the effects side of things, but at least get your script to a level approaching interesting. Carnies fails here as well, as it appears to have been written in a 10 minute drunken haze. The picture quality is of the super-cheap stark video image stock that you can easily achieve by simply turning on your camera and looking towards the toilet. It has that not-good-enough-for-crappy-cable look about it, and is a strong detriment to the film.

And the music? Just your typical carnival music inspired bouncy time nonsense, but at least it’s sparsely used.

Honestly, there’s something to be said about young filmmakers trying to make movies on the cheap, but this is ridiculous. It simply isn’t a competent film in any way, and when one gets to say Reggie Bannister was slumming it… I can’t believe the internet didn’t break with that statement.

Few knew HE was in this.

The Package

As with the making of the movie itself, the statement “at least they tried” can be applied here. The interview with Reggie is a joke, as it was conducted one day on the set while he was in between cheeseburgers, plus he has nothing to say. Come on, Reggie!

Doug Jones fairs much better in his interview, as he was actually interesting. But the real jewel here is the music video by The Mad Hatter. It’s a power ballad filmed on set that’s full of smoke, midgets and scenes from the film! A real treat!

How about this: I have 1 extra un-opened copy of Carnies for anyone who wants one, just send me an email explaining why on earth you want it and your address. If the US Postal Service agrees to let me ship this beast, I’ll send it on – but remember I have only 1 copy.

2.0 OUT OF 10