Carn Evil

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The greatest show unearthed!.


When the moon is full and trees are bare. Walk though the cemetery if you dare. Where skeletons rot and corpses fester. Locate the tomb with the skull of a jester. Feed him a token all shiny and new. It is then that Carn Evil will return for YOU!
The game's opening narration.

A horror-themed light gun game from Midway Games, Carn Evil is about... well, an evil carnival, which is set somewhere in Iowa (if you can believe the opening cutscene). The game starts off with a hayride/ghost tour making its way through a cemetery at night. One of the patrons, called Jacob in the manual, hops off the ride and locates the grave of Professor Ludwig Von Tökkentäkker, which seems normal enough... save for the evil-looking jester statue on it and a token sticking out of a slot on the tombstone. Curious, Jacob takes the token and puts it in the jester's mouth, where it promptly comes alive and nearly chomps his hand off. Next thing Jacob knows, a carnival indeed comes out of the ground and traps him and presumably his tour inside of it with all manner of nasty and bizarre monsters. Luckily, he stumbles across the shooting gallery, which has real shotguns; Jacob and his friend Lisa grab them and prepare to blast their way out... or die trying.

Released in 1998, CarnEvil is considered one of Midway's best arcade games, giving House of the Dead some competition (both games came out the same year). But what people remember the most about the game is its rather surreal and dark humor, as well as its highly disturbing premise. Definitely not one for the kiddies.


The game provides the following tropes:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Amusement Park of Doom: Natch.
  • An Axe to Grind: Evil Marie's weapon of choice.
  • Bad Santa: Krampus, the boss of Rickety Town.
  • Black Comedy: Most prevalent in the Rickety Town level, but pretty much everywhere.
    • An example. In the food court area of Rickety Town, you can dunk one of the Skeleteens into a deep fryer.
  • Blatant Lies: The arcade cabinet will assure you that "That isn't a zombie/it's just a silly clown".
  • Big Bad: Tökkentäkker.
  • Body Horror: Up to Splatterhouse levels in the Freak Show, but you really should've guessed that.
  • Boss Banter: Krampus.
  • Bowdlerization: "Junior", the boss of the Freak Show, was changed to a giant stuffed bear named "Deaddy".
    • This is actually a dipswitch setting, just in case parents didn't bother to notice the warning sticker that said "ANIMATED VIOLENCE - STRONG".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The spider monkeys you let loose about halfway through the Freak Show level come back later.
  • Circus of Fear: The final level.
  • Clothing Damage: Evil Marie (the boss of the Haunted House level) loses clothing as you continue to damage her until she's down to nothing but her underwear.
  • Cowardly Boss: The final boss periodically vanishes, causing your character(s) to move to a new location.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Not incredibly prevalent except for the part where you fight a giant undead baby as a boss.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons appear, of course. And the damn things bleed.
  • The Dead Have Eyes
  • The Dragon: Umlaut to Tökkentäkker.
  • Enemy Mime: Zombie mimes show up in the Big Top level. They're harmless.
  • Enfante Terrible: Boss of the Freak Show level. The developers, considering that even by this game's standards some arcade owners would find this too disturbing, have an option to replace him with a teddy bear.
  • Exposition Fairy: Umlaut at the start of every stage, giving the player a cute little poem about what they're in for. He's also the second-to-last boss.
  • Fake Difficulty: On occasion, you are forced to take a hit.
  • Fragile Speedster: As expected, Umlaut during his boss battle.
  • Gag Boobs: Evil Marie. The dissonance that results when this is coupled with her half-blown-off face is both hilarious and disturbing.
  • Giant Spider: Here and there in the Haunted House level.
  • Go for the Eye: One of the mini-bosses in the Freak Show level, appropriately dubbed Eyeclops. He has one eye in each of his two heads, three in his chest, and one in each arm.
    • Note that in other cases Eyes Are Unbreakable, even if the face around them has been reduced to the consistency of hamburger.
  • Gorn: Very, VERY bloody game. It's from the company that made Mortal Kombat, after all.
  • Hand Cannon: Hambone, the midboss of the Haunted House level, has a minigun attached to his arm.
    • He shows up twice during this level, swapping the minigun for a skull launcher on his second appearance.
  • Harmless Villain: The mimes in the Big Top stage, seeing as a mime wouldn't be able to actually touch you, after all. The most harm they cause is to potentially get in the way of enemies that can harm you.
  • Haunted House: One of the stages is based off a dark house ride version of one.
  • Homage: The miniboss Hambone is a throwback to slasher films. His reappearance later in the level as "Hambone the Revenge" is a throwback to their many sequels.
  • Hostage Spirit Link: Every so often, a girl will pop up and you have to avoid shooting her. Shooting her anyway costs you some of your life.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The eventual fate of Evil Marie, provided you haven't run out of quarters yet.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Some of the ghouls in the Haunted House level are on fire for no reason.
  • Jerkass: Umlaut.
  • Jump Scare: Pretty omnipresent, albeit this sort of thing is to be expected in a rail shooter.
  • Late to the Punchline: Umlaut's introduction to the Freak Show level insinuates that you're a freak. It takes a second. Although he could be just screwing with you as usual.
  • Light Gun Game
  • Ludicrous Gibs: All over the damn place.
    • And ludicrous indeed. Skeletons bleed. SKELETONS!
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The song "Big Bunyan Ride" is a jaunty logging tune about your imminent death.
  • Meaningful Name: von Tökkentäkker. Refers to both the token required to summon him and the endless amount of tokens you need to "give him" to beat the game.
  • Monster Clown: The last stage, the Big Top, is chock full of these.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Professor von Tökkentäkker? What the heck could he teach?!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: You're the one who puts in the token and starts the whole mess. Twice.
  • Perpetual Expression: The "Smilin' Bob" enemy in the Rickety Town level (near the go-karts). He always smiles. ALWAYS.
  • Playing with Fire: One of your potential upgrades is a flame thrower.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Umlaut, before every stage.
  • Say My Name: Half of the bosses announce their own name when they show up.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A happy, wonderful Christmas jingle is played during the Slay Ride portion of Rickety Town.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Smilin' Bob and Flapjack enemies never stop smiling, even if they've barely got a face left to smile with.
  • Subsystem Damage: Most enemies have no HP count and go down when you blow off something important.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The player character, who not only decides to tempt fate by bringing the carnival up in the first place, but decides to do it again after you win.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: If you have enough quarters to beat the game, the epilogue will have Jacob put the token in again while Lisa screams for him to stop.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: The last part of the last level is a zeppelin. It's basically from the afterlife.