Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival (2015) poster

Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2016)


USA. 2016.


Director – Darren Lynn Bousman, Screenplay – Terrance Zdunich, Producers – Chris M. Bonifay, Sean E. DeMott & Chang Tseng, Photography – Joseph White, Music/Lyrics – Saar Hendelman & Terrance Zdunich, Score – Saar Hendelman, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jake Akuna, Makeup Effects/Prosthetics – Vincent Guastini, Production Design – Derrick Hinman. Production Company – Cleopatra Records/Execution Style Entertainment/Limb From Limb Pictures/Six Legged Serenade/Blah Shank Productions.


Paul Sorvino (God), Terrance Zdunich (Lucifer), Emilie Autumn (Jane/Painted Doll), Adam Pascal (The Agent), Lyndon Smith (Cora), Brianna Evigan (Ms. Merrywood), Tech N9ne (The Librarian), Barry Bostwick (The Watchword), Dayton Callie (Ticket Keeper), Marc Senter (The Scorpion), Mighty Mike Murga (The Fool), David Hasselhoff (The Designer), Bill Moseley (The Magician)


Lucifer announces a war against Heaven and begins tormenting the realm above with loud music. Jane is among the new Applicants in Heaven. She is led by her curiosity and keeps asking questions when she is expected to just do what she is told and say nothing. This comes to the attention of God who tells his lieutenant The Agent to seduce her. The Agent woos and charms Jane, but her curiosity still leads her into forbidden areas.

Darren Lynn Bousman is the director most associated with the Saw franchise. He made the first three sequels Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006) and Saw IV (2007), which oversaw the series’ move to an emphasis on extreme and nasty Torture Porn, and returned for the later attempt to revive the series with Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021). Subsequent to the Saw films, Bousman went on to direct the likes of Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008), Mother’s Day (2010), 11-11-11 (2011), The Barrens (2012), Abattoir (2016), St Agatha (2018) and Death of Me (2020), as well as the The Night Billy Raised Hell episode of Tales of Halloween (2015).

Terrance Zdunich is a musician and comic-book artist. Bousman and Zdunich previously collaborated on Repo! The Genetic Opera, a musical set in a future where the populace was obsessed with body modification. Following that, Bousman and Zdunich went on to make The Devil’s Carnival (2012), a 53-minute film set around the titular carnival, which is located in Hell, overlorded by Zdunich as The Devil. This served to get funding to expand that as Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival, bringing back many of the cast from the short film.

Alleluia differs from The Devil’s Carnival. The first film told a series of tales of a group of people waking up to discover they were in the carnival in Hell. By contrast, Alleluia only tells a single story – of how one impetuous Applicant in Heaven (Emile Autumn) is tempted by her curiosity, which leads to her downfall and becoming the Painted Doll, a character that was introduced in the first film. Rather than telling the stories of damned souls, Alleluia takes place against the backdrop of a war that The Devil declares on Heaven.

Jane/Painted Doll (Emilie Autumn) and The Devil (Terrance Zdunich) in Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival (2015)
Jane/Painted Doll (Emilie Autumn) and The Devil (the film’s writer/musical composer Terrance Zdunich)

These Bousman-Zdunich collaborations are very much an acquired taste. My goodwill for the film extended to about the opening number set aboard a train as everybody breaks into another of Zdunich’s terrible rock songs. More of the same instantly forgettable and badly composed tracks play throughout. The full-length film comes with a better budget than the short film. The main problem is that there seems little distinguishing difference between Heaven and Hell. Both are the same gaudy over-ornamented places that look somewhere between a carnival and nightclub, peopled by a freakshow of characters wearing exotic masks, weird costuming and with deformities. The minor difference is that Heaven has more of an Art Deco/1930s nightclub feel to it – Paul Sorvino’s God even gets up and sings a number.

The only real plot to the show is watching the lead character of Jane (an okay performance from Goth musician Emile Autumn) who has too much curiosity for the conformity required in Heaven whereupon God assigns his lieutenant to seduce her, leading her to fall and be condemned to Hell. The idea that God deliberately tempts people to their own damnation in such a manner seems hard to reconcile – mind you, this is a God (a 76 year-old Paul Sorvino) who also drops the f bomb at one point.

Trailer here

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