The Devil's Carnival

The Devil's Carnival is a 2012 musical horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Briana Evigan, Jessica Lowndes, Paul Sorvino, Emilie Autumn and Terrance Zdunich.[2] The film marks the second collaboration of Bousman and writer/actor Terrance Zdunich, their previous work being the unrelated musical film Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film also brings back several of the cast members of Repo!, such as Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Bill Moseley and Nivek Ogre. The Devil's Carnival has Aesop's Fables and other folklore at the core of its story, with the main characters each representing a fable. Flanery's character John represents "Grief and His Due", Evigan's character Merrywood represents "The Dog and Its Reflection", and Lowndes' character Tamara represents "The Scorpion and the Frog", an animal fable that seems to have first emerged in Russia.

The Devil's Carnival
Theatrical poster
Directed byDarren Lynn Bousman
Produced byDarren Lynn Bousman
Sean E. Demott
Screenplay byTerrance Zdunich
StarringEmilie Autumn
Sean Patrick Flanery
Briana Evigan
Jessica Lowndes
Paul Sorvino
Terrance Zdunich
Bill Moseley
CinematographyJoseph White
Edited byErin Deck
Release date
April 5, 2012 (Los Angeles premiere)[1]
Running time
56 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$500,000 (US)


John, a grieving father, slits his wrists after losing his son, Daniel. A thief, Ms. Merrywood, is killed in her trailer after a shootout with police. Tamara, a young woman, is killed by her angry boyfriend. All three are greeted by denizens of Hell as they die ("Heaven's All Around").

In Hell, which is a carnival, Lucifer's second-in-command, the Ticket-Keeper, rallies the carnies in a big-top circus tent and calls out the names of the carnies who will be "performing" that night for the recent arrivals. He selects the Painted Doll, a mute woman with a cracked face; the Twin, a reptilian man with the ability to shape-shift; the Hobo Clown; and the Scorpion, a knife-thrower. The Scorpion is absent from the meeting, so Ticket-Keeper sends Painted Doll to find him. John, Ms. Merrywood, and Tamara all awaken, each finding an envelope containing a ticket to enter. While searching for the entrance, John and Ms. Merrywood bump into each other, and they arrive at Ticket-Keeper's booth as the carnies welcome them to the carnival ("The Devil's Carnival"). Ticket-Keeper then explains all the 666 laws of the Carnival ("666") before welcoming them in.

Tamara, wandering in the back of the Carnival, finds The Scorpion in a cage. She frees him, and he begins to flirt with her. Meanwhile, John finds himself in the Big-Top tent. He is harassed by Wick and her three cohorts, the Woe-Maidens ("Kiss the Girls"). They vanish suddenly, however, and John sees Painted Doll in a kissing booth. She offers him Daniel's location in exchange for a kiss, only to bite off his ear, which spontaneously reappears.

Meanwhile, Daniel meets Lucifer, who begins reading him fables, starting with Aesop's "The Dog and Her Reflection". Ms. Merrywood, follows a pamphlet into a dark tent with the intent of finding a large diamond. The Twin has the diamond, and promises it to her if she wins his "game" before morphing into her. Merrywood, not recognizing her own reflection, loses the game ("Beautiful Stranger"). She is then stripped naked and whipped in front of the carnies, while the Hobo Clown sings retelling of the fable Lucifer is reading ("A Penny for a Tale").

Lucifer begins reading Daniel another fable, "The Scorpion and The Frog." Tamara is continually wooed by the Scorpion. She follows him into a dark tent where a knife-throwing wheel has been set up, and finds him and the Painted Doll kissing. Embarrassed, she tries to leave, but Scorpion angrily accuses her of not trusting him, which she denies. He straps her to his knife-throwing wheel, before throwing a switch-blade directly into Tamara's heart, killing her ("Trust Me"). The Painted Doll then retells the fable to the carnies through song, showing off Tamara's body for them ("Prick! Goes the Scorpion's Tale").

Lucifer reads one final fable for Daniel, "The Devil and His Due." John stumbles through a tent, even passing through a replica of the bathroom where he committed suicide ("Grief"). John, distraught over losing his son, claims Heaven has abandoned both Daniel and himself. John finds Daniel in Lucifer's study, only for Daniel to morph into the Fool, a dwarf carnie, much to Lucifer's amusement and John's dismay. Lucifer taunts John, revealing to him that he is in fact in Hell as he could not let go of his grief. John weeps but eventually decides he no longer wants to grieve, and Lucifer sends John to Heaven.

Later, Lucifer rallies the carnies, announcing a plan to offer the condemned souls redemption and thus, access to Heaven ("Grace for Sale"). Ticket-Keeper informs the carnies that, come tomorrow, they will wage war with God and his angels, in order to "put Heaven out of business." The carnies excitedly celebrate ("Off to Hell We Go").

In a post-credits scene, Tamara finds Lucifer in the big-top tent. She blindly trusts and allows her to seduce him like she did with the Scorpion, ultimately repeating the sin that brought her to Hell ("In All My Dreams I Drown").


Casting and productionEdit

Bousman and Zdunich began developing the concept of the movie while the two were talking about a possible sequel for Repo! The Genetic Opera.[4] The two eventually came up with The Devil's Carnival after not developing a sequel for Repo! "for multiple reasons".[4] Filming for Devil's Carnival wrapped in mid January 2012 and went into post production,[5][6] with Noise Creep reporting that Slipknot's Shawn Crahan would be participating in his first acting role.[7] A film trailer featuring singer Emilie Autumn was released in late December 2011.[8] The Hollywood Reporter quotes Bousman as saying that the movie is "more accessible than Repo but also a lot darker than Repo" and that The Devil's Carnival will be receiving a multi-city road tour starting in April 2012 and a 12-song album.[9]

Bousman and Zdunich have stated that The Devil's Carnival will be an ongoing project,[10] with episode two already being written.[11] The two have stated that due to the project being self-funded, episode two will be produced if they make back the costs for episode one.[citation needed] At the Boston stop of the Encore Road Tour, Bousman and Zdunich revealed that both episodes 2 and 3 have been written, and that casting has begun on Episode 2, with production tentatively to begin at the end of the year.

As of June 2014, production on The Devil's Carnival: Episode 2 has officially begun and most of the cast is anticipating to return.

Deleted scenesEdit

On March 22, 2012, the music video for "In All My Dreams I Drown" was released onto the internet. The piece was originally intended to be placed within the film itself, but was ultimately moved to the end credits due to it "not flowing with the rest of the film".[citation needed] According to director Bousman, "In all My Dreams I Drown" was originally in the film after the song The Devil's Carnival. Tamara would find herself in the carnival ring, be seduced by Lucifer, then awake again, being rendered redundant.


The Devil's Carnival received positive reviews from critics. Artist Direct gave the film 4.5 out of 5 stars, praising the film's aesthetics and performances.[12] The Phoenix New Times also praised The Devil's Carnival, saying that the "plot and soundtrack were darkly, enchantingly comedic".[13] Dread Central gave the movie 4 out of 5 blades, praising the movie as "subversive and infectious".[14] Scott Weinberg of Fearnet also reviewed the film, writing, "Dismiss Repo and Carnival as weird musicals for weird people if you like, but there's always room for a filmmaker who treats his ticket-buyers well and delivers something sort of ... unsafe."[15] cited the soundtrack as a highlight of the movie, also stating that the "tale crescendos at the start of a new story, that sinister plot the Devil was keeping under his horns".[16] praised the film, writing that the movie itself could not be reviewed without first discussing the atmosphere, "This isn’t a film you’re seeing; remember that you’re going to have an 'experience.'"[17]

The Devil's Carnival has a 70% audience score on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes


The soundtrack for the film was released digitally on Amazon and iTunes on April 3, 2012, with limited edition CDs being sold on the road tour stops.[18]

Track listingEdit

1."Heaven's All Around"Paul Sorvino3:39
2."The Devil's Carnival"Alexa Vega, Mighty Mike, Bill Moseley2:17
3."In All My Dreams I Drown †"Jessica Lowndes and Terrance Zdunich2:29
4."666"Dayton Callie and The Carnies1:33
5."Kiss the Girls"Alexa Vega and The Woe Maidens1:04
6."Beautiful Stranger"Nivek Ogre and Briana Evigan2:57
7."A Penny for a Tale"Ivan Moody3:36
8."Trust Me"Marc Senter2:07
9."Prick! Goes the Scorpion's Tale"Emilie Autumn3:56
10."Grief"Sean Patrick Flanery3:19
11."Grace for Sale"Terrance Zdunich2:56
12."Off to Hell We Go †"The Carnies1:29
Sinner Extended Edition
1."Storytime/Heavens All Around"Paul Sorvino3:44
2."Tears, John/The Devil's Carnival"Alexa Vega, Mighty Mike, Bill Moseley2:26
3."In All My Dreams I Drown †"Jessica Lowndes and Terrance Zdunich2:26
4."Its Showtime (Score)"Dayton Callie0:26
5."666"Dayton Callie and The Carnies1:33
6."Kiss The Girls"Alexa Vega and The Woe Maidens1:04
7."The Midway (Score)"Terrance Zdunich0:17
8."The Dog And Her Reflection/Beautiful Stranger"Nivek Ogre, Briana Evigan and Terrance Zdunich3:00
9."A Penny For A Tale"Ivan Moody3:35
10."You're Prettier Anyhow (Score)"Marc Senter0:48
11."The Scorpion And The Frog/Trust Me"Marc Senter2:20
12."Prick! Goes The Scorpion's Tale"Emilie Autumn3:55
13."The Devil And His Due"Terrance Zdunich0:47
14."Grief (Alternate Cut)"Sean Patrick Flanery, Terrance Zdunich3:15
15."Grace For Sale"Terrance Zdunich2:56
16."Off To Hell We Go †"The Carnies1:24
17."666 (Web Teaser Version)"Terrance Zdunich1:41
18."The Devil's Carnival (Web Teaser Version)"Terrance Zdunich1:26
19."Painted Doll Teaser Background Soundscape ††"Terrance Zdunich13:24
† Appear during the end-credits only.
†† Physical CD Exclusive

Home mediaEdit

Bousman and Zdunich announced in August 2012 that the film would be released in DVD and Blu-ray on October 23, 2012. The movie was released in two editions, a "Ringmaster" collector's edition and a "Sinners" version.[19] The "Ringmaster" edition is a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack limited to 6,660 copies whereas the "Sinner" edition is a DVD packaged with an extended soundtrack sold exclusively at Hot Topic. The Ringmaster's edition features audio commentary tracks from the cast and crew and several features on the making of the film.[20]

On October 28, 2014, the film was rereleased on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. This release is virtually identical to the Ringmaster edition of the Blu-ray, except the lyric booklet has been removed and the cover art was altered.

Episode TwoEdit

Bousman described Episode Two with, "Episode Two will pull back the curtain on Heaven... and in 'The Devil's Carnival,' God and his angels are a whole lot darker than Lucifer and his carnies." [21] On December 25, 2012 a teaser trailer for the second episode was released, revealing that Tech N9ne was starring in the role of "The Librarian".[22] On January 10, 2013 a 9-minute-long trailer was released, focusing on The Librarian, a few of the angels, and their dark practices of Heaven. Also, major actors such as Barry Bostwick (Brad from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Ted Neeley (Jesus from Jesus Christ Superstar) have been confirmed in the cast.[23] On June 26, 2014 Bousman posted on his blog that production on episode two had officially begun.

The film's sequel, Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival premiered on August 11, 2015, in Los Angeles, and subsequently began a North American Roadshow release on August 26, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona, ending on October 18 in Los Angeles.


  1. ^ "The Devil's Carnival Begins Traveling in April". Dread Central. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Darren Bousman Opens The Devil's Carnival". Dread Central. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  3. ^ "ive Finger Death Punch Singer Ivan Moody Joins Darren Lynn Bousman's "THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL"". Artist Direct. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Exclusive Interview: Terrance Zdunich talks The Devil's Carnival". Daily Dead. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Meet 'The Devil's Carnival's' Magician (And His Sidekick)!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Head To Hell This April With 'The Devil's Carnival,' Teaser Trailer!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Slipknot's Clown to Star in 'The Devil's Carnival' Horror Film". NoiseCreep. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Darren Lynn Bousman's 'The Devil's Carnival' Gets an Extended, Ruffled Tease and Poster". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  9. ^ "'The Devil's Carnival' Teaser Trailer From 'Repo: The Genetic Opera' Director Debuts (Exclusive Video)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Welcome to The Devil's Carnival". Oh No They Didn't!. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Darkest Radio Ep 66: Emilie Autumn". Darkest Radio. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  12. ^ ""The Devil's Carnival" Movie Review — 4.5 out of 5 stars". Artist Direct. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Last Night: The Devil's Carnival on Easter Sunday". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Review: Devil's Carnival". Dread Central. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Review: 'The Devil's Carnival'". FearNet. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Review: Bousman/Zdunich's 'The Devil's Carnival' One Hell of a Night". Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Film Review: The Devil's Carnival (2012)". Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  18. ^ "The Devil's Carnival OST Out Today". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  19. ^ Gingold, Michael. ""THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL" IS COMING TO DISC; FULL DETAILS AND ART". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  20. ^ "'The Devil's Carnival' Moves To Home Video In Various Collector's Editions!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  21. ^ "Darren Lynn Bousman Reveals 7 Keys to Making Your Own 'Devil's Carnival' -- Plus the Plot to the Series' Next Installment". Indie Wire.
  22. ^ "The Devil's Carnival: Episode 2 Teaser Trailer". YouTube.
  23. ^ "The Devil's Carnival: Episode 2 - The Librarian 9 Minute Trailer". YouTube.

External linksEdit

Aesop's Fables