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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 171: Carrie

Before and After Oceanspray Cranapple Juice

Can a horror movie still be good even when you know specifically what is going to happen? Thanks to television and the internet, it's almost impossible to not know specific scenes from movies even if you've never watched them. This is especially true with classic horror movies and scenes. TV shows like Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments show us all the good and memorable parts of movies. Being a horror fan, of course I watch them (multiple times) despite not having seen all of the movies featured. Just about everyone knows the major scene in Carrie. It has been re-shown, spoofed, satirized, and imitated in lots of different mediums. Heck, it was even in Tiny Toon Adventures in the 90's. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I had to see the movie for myself. I also needed to get Europe's power ballad "Carrie" out of my head.

Carrie is a 1976 adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter, Blast From The Past) stars as Carrie White, a shy high school girl caught in the grip of her overbearing and religious mother, Margret (Piper Laurie, The Faculty, Children Of A Lesser God). Carrie is an outcast and is ridiculed by her female classmates when she gets her period in the shower. As Carrie becomes more frantic, a lightbulb bursts before Miss Collins (Betty Buckley, The Happening, Eight Is Enough) and puts a stop to the harassment. When her mother hears of the incident, she punishes Carrie because she believes the blood is a punishment for sin. She locks Carrie in a closet and forces her to pray. Carrie believes she may be telekinetic and researches it in the school library. Carrie's classmate, Sue, guilty over teasing Carrie, convinces the hunky Tommy to take Carrie to prom. Miss Collins punishes the girls who teased Carrie by making them do physical activities. Sue Snell (Amy Irving, Yentl, Adam), who hates Carrie, refuses and is banned from prom. Carrie's mother warns her not to go to the prom because all the students will laugh at her. She disagrees, using her powers to push her mother away. She enjoys herself at the prom, unaware that Sue, along with her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, Battlefield Earth) have rigged the prom king and queen voting so that Carrie and Tommy would win. As she accepts her crown, Sue tips a bucket full of pig's blood onto Carrie's head, drenching her and knocking Tommy out with the bucket. Carrie, believing people are laughing at her, finally snaps, using her telekinesis to lock the doors and hurt everyone inside with a wall of flames. She even gets her revenge on Sue and Billy. Covered in blood, she returns home. What will her mother do?

Cut her a piece of cake?

Carrie is a classic for a reason. The acting is truly great, thanks to Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. Spacek is great as both the mousy Carrie and the insane, murderous Carrie. She really shines in the revenge scene at the prom. Without saying a word, her wide eyes and steely expression speak terrifying volumes. Piper Laurie plays the religious Margaret perfectly. I really hated her for all the right reasons. Amy Irving is good as the bratty Sue and John Travolta is in the role made for him, a total douchebag. Beyond the acting, the story is straight to the point and enjoyable. You kind of have an idea of what is going to happen, but are compelled to keep watching. The little hints of Carrie's telekinesis are a big part of that. The audience is fully behind Carrie as a sympathetic character and desperately want her to get revenge.

Director Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables) does a fantastic job of directing. Quick action shots with music swells fit perfectly for Carrie's powers. There are some great shots, including the final scene that was shot in reverse to give it a dream-like feel. The music, composed by Pino Donaggio, is another high point in the movie, though I could have done without some of the dorky 70's music. The soundtrack is so good that it has been re-released multiple times. While a majority of the movie doesn't have a lot of action, there is plenty in the final act. The scene I referenced before is truly awesome and it's no surprised it's been done in other productions so many times.

This should just be every heavy metal album cover ever

Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still really enjoyed Carrie. The story is very believable and still relevant today. Even though the movie is a bit lengthy, it never felt too long or drawn out. The acting is great with special accolades going to Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. It was also fun to see a young John Travolta. The direction and music are very well done and make the movie a complete package. If you've watched the prom scene, but never watched the full movie, do yourself a favor, and go see Carrie now. Make sure to avoid the ridiculous sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2 and the unnecessary made-for-TV remake. Plans are underway to remake the original with Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) as Carrie and Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski) as Margaret White. Only time will tell if it will be as good as the original. 


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