When I tell people that I drove 22 hours to see a movie they tend to look at me like I’m absolutely insane. Granted, there are times I admit to being slightly off; however in this instance I was completely sane. The Devil’s Carnival was far more than ‘just a movie’. It was an experience I will never forget and well worth the time spent driving.
My sister and I have been devout fans of Terrance Zdunich and Darren Lynn Bousman’s Repo! The Genetic Opera for years. The cast, storyline, music and visual styling were all outstanding. I now know all of the words to every song in Repo! and sing along whenever no one is around. As I said, we loved Repo! and couldn’t wait to see what more Terrance and Darren could do.
This year when they posted on Repo! The Genetic Opera’s Facebook page that Terrance and Darren were working on putting together The Devil’s Carnival Road Show, I seriously giggled aloud. I wasn’t part of the initial Repo! Road Shows and I really didn’t want to miss out on The Devil’s Carnival shows. Initially when I scanned the cities listed I didn’t see any close to home. Being a mother of two and working full-time, I don’t have the best ability or availability to travel. Both my sister and I were disheartened.
As the tour grew and dates were finalized I started looking more closely. Was it possible? Could I afford to travel? Did I really want to leave my family for a few days? My husband basically settled it for me. He pushed me to go. He kept telling me that it’s a once in a lifetime sort of thing and I shouldn’t miss out on the experience. I have to say, I am glad he pushed.
My husband isn’t into the same type of music or movies as my siblings and I, so he opted to stay home with the kids. I ended up purchasing three Ringmaster tickets, one for myself and each of my siblings. Honestly the price for a VIP/Ringmaster ticket was so affordable I couldn’t miss out on meeting Terrance and Darren. I turned it into a sibling bonding trip and dubbed it ‘Sibling Road Trip’ on my Facebook page. We did the trip as cheaply as possible, driving our smaller car and staying in a lower priced hotel. Our plan was to leave on Sunday and drive the 11 hours to Salt Lake. The show was on Monday night and we were scheduled to drive the 11 hours back home on Tuesday. It was a whirlwind trip but oh so worth it.
Monday afternoon my sister and I spent going over make-up and clothing options. We even sent pictures to our family back home to help determine which dress my sister would wear. Our poor brother had to be sick of us by the time we walked out of the hotel. As we were walking out my sister received several odd looks. She laughed and said ‘I haven’t been looked at that since I was in high school.’ It was rather amusing. Neither of us dressed too out of the ordinary, but for Salt Lake City, I suppose we did look a bit out-of-place.
We arrived at the event about an hour early as instructed by SpookyDan. The line wasn’t entirely long but contained people in all varieties of dress. There were people dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and then those who were in full costume. It was wonderful to see the diversity. After purchasing our copies of the soundtrack, a t-shirt, poster and character cards, we took our places in line. More and more people were arriving and the energy was flowing. Everyone was talking about how excited they were to not only see the movie, but also meet Terrance and Darren.
What a sight we all were standing on that sidewalk in Salt Lake City. A whole group of people dressed in anything from typical street clothes to a complete Repo Man costume standing on the streets of ‘The Mormon Capital’. It was a carnival all its own, as pointed out by a small family passing the line.
- Child: Mom, why are all those people dressed up?
- Mom: Well because, they’re going to the carnival honey.
Yes… Yes we were…
Finally SpookyDan came out and started scanning tickets and stamping hands. Those of us with Ringmaster or Sinner tickets were handed a poster signed by both Terrance and Darren. Once all tickets were scanned and hands were stamped, SpookyDan called for the Ringmaster ticket holders to enter The Tower Theater. Queue mass chaos? Not with this crowd.
I’ve been to all types of events over the years, everything from private movie openings to rock concerts. At every single event historically there has been some form of pushing and shoving or just plain rudeness when entering the venue. Not at The Devil’s Carnival. The crowd may have been composed of people dressed as Lucifer or psychotic clowns, but they were by far the most polite crowd I have seen. And to all those who passed the line on the street and made snide comments about how the crowd looked like a bunch of freaks… I have to say I felt safer with this crowd of freaks than I have many of the concerts I’ve attended.
Upon entering the building we all made our way through the lobby toward the theater where we stood in line again. Still there wasn’t any pushing, shoving or complaining. Once we actually entered the theater we discovered the reason for the wait. Terrance and Darren were waiting by the front row to meet each of us individually. It was awesome. Here I paid roughly $40 per ticket and we were getting a one-on-one meeting with the creators of the film. Amazing.
My siblings and I bounded down the aisle and introduced ourselves to Terrance and Darren. We shook hands and Stephanie Hyden took our picture. Talk about a smooth operation for the resources they had. They avoided delaying the experience due to different cameras and such by simply having Stephanie take all the pictures. Brilliant.
Once everyone met the guys and had their pictures done we all sat in the front three rows for a small Q&A session. This was nothing scripted and they did their best to answer any and all questions posed. We got to hear about their road trip and stories about strange smells in the van. It was truly amazing to see just how down to earth these two men are. I’ve always respected their art and now can honestly say I respect the individuals as well.
They discussed the making of The Devil’s Carnival and the differences in the process compared to Repo! They even polled the audience asking who hadn’t seen Repo! The Genetic Opera. One lone hand stood in the air. I do recall Terrance telling him to ‘get the fuck out’ in jest, causing an uproar of laughter from the crowd. Terrance discussed how they wanted The Devil’s Carnival to be the anti-Glee. There was a sole retort of ‘I like Glee’ from an audience member. In response Terrance stated something along the lines of ‘well you can like Glee and The Devil’s Carnival both I guess…’
Darren talked about his film Mother’s Day sitting on a shelf for years awaiting release. He discussed how hard it is to get a film to market and the obstacles he’s faced with his art. He talked about the challenges they faced with The Devil’s Carnival in particular. We learned that they hired one of their crew via Craigslist. Hats off to these guys for being resourceful.
After the Q&A, the remaining ticket holders were seated and the carnival began. It was set to start with a pair of dancers from Voodoo Productions, however due to technical difficulties we were treated to Elias Lefty Caress hammering a nail into his nose with the microphone. His act was entertaining and disturbing all in one. The technical issues were resolved and the dancers, Chad Ashment and Heidi Lyn-Butterfly, took the stage. It was dark, hypnotic and beautiful. I think I could watch them for hours.
Following the dancers we were treated to sword swallowing, knife juggling and whip cracking. There was a costume contest for those who dressed up, won by the one and only Lucifer himself. Major congratulations to Repo Man and Painted Doll for their second and third place showing. It truly was an experience worth every cent spent and every mile traveled. At this point I was satisfied and the movie still had not started!
The Master of Ceremonies, Stephanie Hyden took the microphone and then split the room in half. The first half chanted ‘Take Me’ followed by the other half chanting ‘To Hell’. Yes my dear friends, I joined in the chanting, all in good fun. Then Terrance and Darren returned to the stage. They talked briefly about what we were about to see and the work they put into bringing us The Devil’s Carnival. It was then time to take the vow. We all raised our left hands and vowed not to ‘be a douchebag’ by recording or photographing the film contents and to stop those who attempted by ‘punching them in the balls or their Mormon titties’. Yes, that was the wording and it seriously had me cracking up.
The room went dark and countdown was projected onto the screen. It started with a short film of the making of Repo! The Genetic Opera. We all sang the songs as they played and cheered for the characters we loved… and booed for Paris Hilton. It was interesting and fun to see the work they put into filming Repo! The Genetic Opera. It was also fascinating to think that they filmed Repo! in roughly forty days and The Devil’s Carnival in only seven.
Following the Repo! portion you could feel the excitement in the room jump tenfold. It was time. The long-awaited screening of The Devil’s Carnival! I’m not going to get into the storyline or specific details because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. What I will say is that from the moment the film began to the last note I was entirely captivated. The actors were absolutely amazing. The costumes were gritty, dingy and completely stunning. The music… I cannot say enough about the music. It was nothing like the mainstream music of today. Voices were not altered by any electronic equipment. Background music was done completely by instruments that you would find in almost any orchestra or college band. The musicians who took part in The Devil’s Carnival held true to the title of artist. It took some serious talent to produce such a piece of art.
It has been more than a week since my Devil’s Carnival experience and I am still thinking about it quite frequently. New things pop into my head every day and I wish I could watch the film again. It is definitely one that when released on DVD I will certainly be adding to my collection. Various quotes and moments are relived in my memory and discussed in-depth with my siblings. We thoroughly enjoyed the film and the experience.
The entire event was unique. You won’t have the same experience going to your local movie theater to see the latest blockbuster. We didn’t stand in line, hand our ticket to the attendant, purchase popcorn and soda and then plop our asses down to sit in silence to watch a movie. No. From start to finish we experienced The Devil’s Carnival. I don’t think a single person walked away feeling the same things the person next to them felt. When we left the theater that night, we each walked away with something different yet something shared.
To Terrance, Darren and all those involved in creating The Devil’s Carnival ~ Thank you! You have been an inspiration.