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The Devil's Carnival Encore Tour: A review

My ticket to hell.
Gia C. Manalio-Bonaventura

The Devil's Carnival

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This past Friday night, we went to see The Devil’s Carnival. Despite the articles I had written, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Driving there, I had weird flashbacks of when I used to go see Rocky Horror somewhere around that area every Saturday at midnight, and wondered if it would be a similar experience.

When we first got there, we had to wait in line outside for what seemed like a really long time. Admittedly, this made me cranky, but also very glad that for once in my life, my usual running late actual worked in my favor. At 9, the time things were supposed to start, we were still standing outside. Just kind of standing there and chatting, except of course, for the moment when the MC had a very brave fan from the line come up in front of everyone and sing “A Penny for a Tale” from the movie in order to earn a T-shirt. The girl did a fantastic job and did, indeed, get her shirt. Well done, brave fan.

Now normally I wouldn’t focus on the fact that we had to stay outside so long (especially since it was such a nice night), I would just be cranky because I hate waiting and move on. But the next morning I found something in my e-mail that had been sent the previous night during our wait, which I think is important to this review. What I found made me appreciate the movie creators, Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich even more. It was an e-mail explaining that the two had been stuck in traffic, and the event would start a little later than expected, as well as some more information on how to find the theater (as apparently the road crew had discovered that it wasn’t that easy to find) and the theater’s phone number. The note, of course, was from Lucifer. I find this incredibly professional that these guys would send out a courtesy e-mail letting attendees know why we were still standing outside instead of taking the attitude that they are the stars and we could all just wait until they arrived. Seriously, that’s pretty classy.

Once inside, the girl who MC’ed the show was great. She was funny and had great control of the crowd and, as my friends and I commented on later, really had things well timed out. Before the film, there were some sinner confessions and a costume contest. On that, there were some very well-thought-out costumes, but some the others who came up on stage were just wearing club attire.

I had been expecting some other performances, like a side show or burlesque. After all, that is what the ads has promised. However, there was none of that. We were treated to a fantastic hooping performance from Scully (who originally told me about the encore tour). And you all know how much I appreciate the hoop. But I was expecting to see more off-screen entertainment. Was my disappointment the fault of the creators and the crew or the fact that I misunderstood what I was going to see? Probably the latter.

Another really cool part of the evening was the film montage of fans performing one of the songs from the soundtrack. After that we saw behind-the-scenes footage for REPO! The Genetic Opera projected alongside the actual filmed scenes. What a neat way to see into the creators’ heads. But wait, I didn’t mention the best part. The entire film was introduced by Emilie Autumn. Most unfortunately, not in person, but from the big screen. That said, it was still cool.

When The Devil’s Carnival actually started, I was sucked in. I say this because it’s pretty rare for a movie to keep my attention all the way through. Visually, it was stunning. The set and costuming were so creative and it is apparent how much time and effort attention to detail went into all of it. Conceptually as well. The story lines in the film are based on Aesop’s Fables, but are, of course, portrayed with a darker spin (as if the fables aren’t already pretty dark). I’m not going to tell you much more about it except that this film is installment number one in what will be a series of dark re-visioned fables depicting the conflicts between Heaven and Hell. A trite concept? Perhaps usually, but not so much this time from what I gathered from the Q&A that followed.

And that, dear readers, brings me to my favorite part of the evening: the Q&A with Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich. First of all, the fact that they tour with the film and greet their fans at each showing is fantastic. This is, after all, a huge part of promoting the movie. The two came on stage and spoke very freely about their process in making the movie and then actually promoting it. I could tell you what they talked about, but that is their story to tell, not mine. I will, however, tell you that they were available to meet all attendees in person after the movie.

So was it worth the price of the ticket and the hour drive? Well, for me it depends on how I look at it. Was it worth it to show support for the artists? Absolutely yes. And I really did enjoy the movie and hearing Darren and Terrance talk about all of it. I found it both informative and inspiring. So why would there be any question? Well, it may be that I’m just old now (get off my lawn, you crazy kids!) and prefer sitting on my couch with a DVD. Plus I’m not usually up for for crowd-participation events. I blame that on my punk rock teenage years where the unspoken rule was that you sat there, smoked cigarettes, and looked bored no matter how much you were enjoying yourself. (Disclaimer: Do not smoke, folks, it is very bad and way too expensive.)

But really, I cannot give enough props to these two artists who are following their vision and doing whatever it takes to see it through. If you get a chance, go see the movie, event and all. And if not, pick up the soundtrack (it really is fun) and/or the DVD when it is released.

Best of luck to Darren and Terrance and everyone involved in this endeavor!

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