The Devil's Carnival

The Devil's Carnival

Theatrical poster
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Produced by Darren Lynn Bousman
Sean E. Demott
Screenplay by Terrance Zdunich
Starring Emilie Autumn
Sean Patrick Flanery
Briana Evigan
Jessica Lowndes
Paul Sorvino
Terrance Zdunich
Bill Moseley
Cinematography Joseph White
Edited by Erin Deck
Release dates
April 5, 2012 (Los Angeles premiere)[1]
Running time
56 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $500,000 (US)

The Devil's Carnival is a 2012 musical horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman starring Sean Patrick Flannery, 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 on 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 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.


God, in his heavenly workshop, is painting the face onto a doll. He messes up on the eyebrows, and tosses the doll into a bin labeled Broken, and begins working on another one. Meanwhile, on Earth, three people are about to meet their deaths. John, a grieving father, slits his wrists in his own grief after losing his son, Daniel. A thief, Ms. Merrywood, is killed in her trailer after a shootout with police. Tamara, a teenage girl, 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. There, he 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 chameleon-like character, The Hobo Clown, a mute man, and The Scorpion, a knife-thrower. The Scorpion is absent from the meeting, so Ticket-Keeper sends Painted Doll to go find him. The Magician, another carnie, opposes Ticket-Keeper and demands to be in the show. Ticket-Keeper threatens him with Lucifer's wrath, and he backs down. In other parts of the Carnival, John, Ms. Merrywood, and Tamara all awaken, given an envelope containing a ticket to enter. John, Ms. Merrywood, and Tamara all begin to wander to 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). John attempts to cut ahead of Ms. Merrywood, believing his lost son is in the Carnival. Ticket-Keeper admonishes him for attempting to break the rules, and explains all the 666 laws of the Carnival (666). They are welcomed in.

Tamara, wandering in the back of the Carnival, finds The Scorpion, who resembles a typical "bad boy". She releases him from a cage, and he woos her over with his deadly knife-throwing act. Meanwhile, John, in search for his son, finds himself in the Big-Top tent. He is harassed by Wick and her three cohorts, the Woe-Maidens, as the circus band. The Hellharmonic, led by The Major, play a tune (Kiss The Girls). The tormentors vanish suddenly, however, and John sees Painted Doll in a kissing booth. She offers John knowledge of Daniel's location in exchange for a kiss. However, she bites his ear off, which spontaneously reappears.

Meanwhile, Daniel meets Lucifer, who begins reading him Aesop's Fables, starting with "The Dog and Her Reflection". Ms. Merrywood, following a pamphlet to find a large diamond, unintentionally litters, and runs from the Carnival's enforcer, The Tamer, into a dark tent. There, The Twin has the large diamond, and morphs into Merrywood herself. Merrywood, not noticing her own reflection, fails The Twin's game, and is stripped naked ("Beautiful Stranger") and whipped for the Carnies, while The Hobo Clown sings a metaphorical song that retells the fable Lucifer is reading (A Penny For A Tale).

Lucifer begins reading Daniel another fable, this time "The Scorpion and The Frog". Tamara is continually wooed by The Scorpion, and follows him into a dark tent where a knife-throwing wheel has been set up. The Painted Doll is there, and she and The Scorpion are kissing, disappointing Tamara. The Scorpion accuses Tamara of not trusting him, which she denies. He straps her to his knife-throwing wheel, and tosses three knives at her, all of them missing. He brandishes a fourth knife, a switch blade, and throws it 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, "Grief and his Due". John finds an entrance-way to find his son, and wanders through a room of red balloons, swings, a hallway of mirrors, and eventually to a recreation of his bathroom where he slit his wrists. John, distraught over losing his son, claims Heaven has abandoned both Daniel and himself (Grief). John finds Daniel in Lucifer's study, only for him to morph into The Fool, a midget carnie, much to Lucifer's amusement. 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. John crawls out of God's Broken bin, surprising him.

Later, Ticket-Keeper questions Lucifer about letting John go to Heaven. Lucifer rallies the Carnies together, announcing a grand 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 dance and celebrate, excited to start their battle with Heaven (Off To Hell We Go).

In a Post-Credits scene, Tamara finds Lucifer in the Big-Top tent. She blindly places her trust in him, like she did with The Scorpion, and is seduced by Lucifer, ultimately repeating the sin that brought her to Hell (In All My Dreams I Drown).


Casting and production

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. 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 scenes

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". 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, stating "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 soundtrack for the movie was released April 3rd in digital release on Amazon and iTunes, with limited edition CDs being sold on the road tour stops.[18]

Track listing

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
† Appear during the end-credits only.
†† Physical CD Exclusive

Home media

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 Two

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. 1 2 "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. 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.
Aesop's Fables
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