The Devil's Carnival: Episode 1 is the first episode of The Devil's Carnival.

The Devil's Carnival
Directed by

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Produced by

Darren Lynn Bousman
Sean E. Demott

Screenplay by

Terrance Zdunich


Joseph White

Edited by

Erin Deck

Release information
Release date(s)

April 5, 2012 (Los Angeles premiere)

Running time

56 minutes


$500,000 (US)


Set in the 1920's/30's/40's [1]. The film follows three of the recently departed down to Hell for a carnival run by Lucifer himself, where the n'er-do-wells face a never-ending repetition of their earthly sins.


God (Paul Sorvino), in his heavenly workshop, is painting a doll, only to reject it when he messes up the eyebrows. Meanwhile, three people, grieving father John (Sean Patrick Flanery), petty thief Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan), and the young Tamara (Jessica Lowndes), are all killed. John slit his own wrists and bled to death, Ms. Merrywood was shot by police, and Tamara was shot by her enraged boyfriend. ("Heaven's All Around"). Each of the three wake up in a different part of the gates of Hell, with all of them finding an envelope with their name on it that contains a ticket to the carnival.

Ticket Keeper (Dayton Callie) begins to prepare the carnival workers for the three attendees and selects several of the carnies to interact with them. The Ticket-Keeper selects the Painted Doll (Emilie Autumn), The Twin (Nivek Ogre), the Hobo Clown (Ivan L. Moody), and the Scorpion (Marc Senter), much to the chagrin of Wick (Alexa Vega) and The Magician (Bill Moseley). Upon hearing the Magician's complaints, the Ticket-Keeper states that Lucifer would be participating in the night's events personally and that there was no need for additional carnies. The Painted Doll is then sent to look for the Scorpion, who was selected but did not appear at the meeting. John and Ms. Merrywood begin to wander closer to the main gate of the Carnival, and are welcomed by Wick, the Magician, and The Fool (Mighty Mike Murga) ("The Devil's Carnival") . Ms. Merrywood and John meet up at the gates of the carnival, with the Ticket-Keeper taking their tickets and explaining the rules and the consequences of breaking them ("666"). After entering, Ms. Merrywood and John separate, with John searching for his son and Ms. Merrywood searching for a game that offers the chance to win a large diamond. Meanwhile, Tamara encounters the Scorpion and releases him from the cage he'd been trapped in. Tamara is instantly charmed by him and agrees to participate in his knife-wielding act.

John still searches for his son, only to be taunted by Wick and her Woe-Maidens (Kiss the Girls) and then assaulted by the Painted Doll after asking each of them for help. Ms. Merrywood attempts to find the booth by asking the Hobo Clown for directions, only for her to accidentally litter and get chased by the Tamer, which leads her to the Twin's game. The Twin assumes Ms. Merrywood's shape, having her play a coin-toss game for the diamond. As she loses each turn, her jewelry and clothing is stripped from her (Beautiful Stranger). Ms. Merrywood is later taken to one of the circus tents and whipped in front of the carnies as the Hobo Clown describes Ms. Merrywood's downfall through song ("A Penny For a Tale").

Tamara finds herself separated from the Scorpion, only to find him and the Painted Doll passionately kissing. Tamara is taken aback, but chooses to trust the Scorpion after he accuses her of lying about trusting him. The Scorpion then straps a willing Tamara to his knife-throwing wheel to participate in his act, only for his final knife to hit her square in the chest, killing her ("Trust Me"). Painted Doll then describes Tamara's demise to the carnies while retelling the story of "The Scorpion and the Frog" ("Prick! Goes The Scorpion's Tale").

John continually sees images of his son Daniel throughout the carnival, only to be tricked each time. He then wanders through a house of mirrors and strobe room, and finds a recreation of the bathroom where he slit his own wrists, singing of his grief for his son (" Grief"). John then finds Daniel sitting in a room with Lucifer (Terrance Zdunich), who has been reading some of Aesop's Fables to the boy. Daniel is revealed to be another trick, and John exclaims his grief for Daniel. Lucifer informs John that his son died a clean death. John screams that he wishes that Daniel was never born and ultimately resolves his grief, and Lucifer has no choice but to release him to Heaven, much to the surprise of God.

Lucifer informs Ticket-Keeper that he has let John go to Heaven, which prompts Lucifer and Ticket-Keeper to re-write the 666 Rules of the Carnival. Ticket-Keeper informs the carnies that they will prepare for a war with Heaven. Lucifer chants and reveals his grand plot to overthrow Heaven, causing God to scream in pain as he hears it ("Grace For Sale").

In a post-credits scene, Tamara finds Lucifer in the main carnival ring. Lost and confused, she puts her trust into Lucifer as he seduces her, endlessly repeating her own sin of easily trusting people ("In All My Dreams I Drown").


  • All of the character's stories are based on Aesop's Fables. The three in this instalment are "The Dog and it's Reflection," "The Scorpion and the Frog," and "Grief and his Due."
  • In the Painted Doll teaser trailer, there were clues in the background to which fables were going to be used.
    • A Frog and a Scorpion by the record player.
    • The dog and her shadow near the clown face.
    • Daniel's red balloon.
  • The movie was all filmed in a week.
  • Tamara wasn't with Ms. Merrywood and John during "The Devil's Carnival" and "666" since she was supposed to be with Lucifer at the carnival's Big Top.
  • According to Darren Bousman, the song "In All My Dreams I Drown" was supposed to take place after "The Devil's Carnival" and before "666". Tamara would find herself in the carnival ring, be seduced by Lucifer, then awake again, thus being rendered redundant.
  • According to Emilie Autumn, the brief touches between The Painted Doll and The Ticket Keeper weren't in the original script but were Dayton Callie's idea.
  • Marc Senter prepared for his knife-throwing scenes by practicing with forks and pizza boxes.


The Dog and Her Reflection

The Scorpion and The Frog