top of page

The Devil's Carnival (2012): A Darkly Enchanting Musical Journey

On August 7, 2012, writer and performer Terrance Zdunich brought the premiere tour of their new musical film, The Devil's Carnival, to Winnipeg's West End Cultural Centre. Acclaimed Hollywood director Darren Bousman was also scheduled to appear, but due to a scheduling conflict had to bow out from appearing in Winnipeg.

Before the film screening, Zdunich welcomed a local group of misfits to the stage to perform a live freakshow full of crazy antics like sword swallowing and walking on broken glass. Zdunich returned to the stage and showed some never-before-seen footage of his other cult classic, REPO! The Genetic Opera. After the film screening, there was a period of time to ask Zdunich questions about The Devil's Carnival, REPO! The Genetic Opera, and other things.


Movie Review: The Devil's Carnival, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Terrance Zdunich, is a unique and visually arresting musical horror film that takes viewers on a surreal trip into a nightmarish carnival run by the Devil himself. Known for their work on REPO! The Genetic Opera, Bousman and Zdunich reunite to create an eerie, yet oddly captivating world that merges morality tales with a rock-opera-style soundtrack. The film weaves together the stories of three sinners who find themselves in a twisted carnival after death, each facing a personal trial reflective of their earthly misdeeds. John (Sean Patrick Flanery), a grieving father, struggles with the loss of his son. Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan), a kleptomaniac, faces the consequences of her greed. Tamara (Jessica Lowndes), a young woman with a naive trust in men, encounters the dangers of misplaced faith. Their tales are intertwined with the Devil's (Terrance Zdunich) own machinations, who takes a perverse pleasure in watching the sinners suffer.

The film's setting is reminiscent of classic horror carnivals, with garish colours, creepy clowns, and a general sense of foreboding. The art direction and set design are impeccable, creating an immersive experience that is both unsettling and fascinating. The visual style, combined with the film's musical numbers, gives it a distinctive flavour that sets it apart from conventional horror films. The soundtrack is a highlight, featuring a series of darkly whimsical songs that are both catchy and thematically rich. Each musical number is tailored to the character's story, enhancing the narrative and adding depth to their struggles. The Devil's Carnival employs a variety of musical styles, from vaudeville to rock, ensuring that each segment feels fresh and engaging.

Terrance Zdunich, as Lucifer, delivers a standout performance. His charisma and eerie charm make him a compelling central figure, and his musical performances are magnetic. Paul Sorvino, Emilie Autumn, and Nivek Ogre are among the notable supporting cast, each bringing their own unique flair to their roles. At its core, The Devil's Carnival is a morality play, exploring themes of redemption, sin, and consequence. Each character's story is a modern-day fable, with lessons that are both timeless and pertinent. The film's dark humour and gothic aesthetic add layers of complexity to these tales, making them more than just simple parables.

However, the film's unconventional structure and stylistic choices might not appeal to everyone. Its narrative can be disjointed at times, and the blend of musical theatre with horror elements might be jarring for viewers expecting a more traditional approach. Despite this, the film's ambition and creativity are commendable, and it succeeds in creating a memorable and distinct cinematic experience.

The Devil's Carnival is a daring and imaginative film that will likely resonate with fans of musical theatre and gothic horror. Its striking visuals, memorable soundtrack, and thought-provoking themes make it a standout entry in the genre. While it may not be for everyone, those willing to embrace its quirky, macabre charm will find it a rewarding and haunting journey into the depths of sin and redemption.

Rating: 8/10

bottom of page