Carnival Magic (1981 film)

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Carnival Magic
Carnival Magic dvdcover.jpg
DVD cover art
Directed by Al Adamson
Produced by Elvin Feltner
Krypton Productions
Release date
  • 1981 (1981)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Carnival Magic is a 1981 American film directed by Al Adamson and starring Don Stewart. Originally intended as a family-oriented children’s film, it has since gained a cult following in underground and B movie film circles owing to its surreal plot and incongruously-adult themes.[1]


Markov the Magnificent is a talented magician and mind-reader whose career is fading. When he partners with a super-intelligent talking chimp named Alexander the Great, the duo suddenly become a big draw—and the potential savior for their struggling, small-time traveling circus. But they must fend off a jealous, alcoholic tiger-tamer and an evil doctor intent on stealing the chimp.


  • Don Stewart as Markov
  • Regina Carrol as Kate
  • Jennifer Houlton as Ellen
  • Howard Segal as David
  • Joe Cirillo as Kirk
  • Mark Weston as Stoney
  • Charles Reynolds as Dr. Poole
  • Missy O'Shea as Girl in Car


Principal photography took place for the film over the span of 3 weeks in July 1980 in North Carolina. Producer Elvin Feltner and director Al Adamson intended the film as family fare, aimed at children. But the prevalence of adult themes (alcoholism, sex, abuse, violence) left many viewers confused.[2] For two decades the film was missing, with rumors that no prints remained, until 2009 when a 35mm print was discovered in a warehouse, sparking the film’s revival among cult aficionados.[3]

This was the last acting role for Regina Carrol, who was married to director Adamson and featured in several of his films.[4] Not coincidentally, it was also one of Adamson’s last two films before retiring from the film industry and pursuing a successful career in real estate. Philip Morris, a real-life ringmaster, magician, and costume maker, appears as a carnival barker. [5]

Revival and re-release

Following the discovery of a clean print in 2009, Carnival Magic was restored and re-mastered in 2010, receiving its television debut on Turner Classic Movies in October of that year, as part of their TCM Underground series.[4] It saw a DVD release in early 2011 from Film Chest and HD Cinema Classics, reissued on Blu-ray and containing bonus material (including out-takes, trailers, audio commentary and interviews with cult film historian Joe Rubin and producer Elvin Feltner)[6] which helped to clear up some of the long-running mysteries that surrounded the bizarre film.

The film was featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as a part of the show's eleventh season, released on April 14, 2017 through Netflix.


  1. ^ "Bumpy Ride".
  2. ^ The A.V. Club (December 14, 2010) “Weird Wednesday: Carnival Magic + Elvin Feltner”
  3. ^ Schlock, Temple Of (20 September 2010). "TEMPLE OF SCHLOCK: CARNIVAL MAGIC on TCM Underground in October!".
  4. ^ a b "Carnival Magic".
  5. ^ Taylor, Brett (Fall 2010). "The Amazing Philip Morris: TV Horror Host, Spook Show Magician, Ventriloquist, and The Man Who Made Bigfoot". Filmfax Plus (125).
  6. ^ " Carnival Magic [Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack]: Don Stewart, Regina Carrol, Joe Cirillo, Al Adamson: Movies & TV".

External links

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