Sunday, 8 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Carrie (1976)

You can't have a list of the best horror movies without Stephen King. Unfortunately, for this list, we had to leave out some of our King favourites like IT, Salem's Lot, and The Stand since they're not technically movies. It hurt but, after the bickering was done, we were left with King greatness in the form of Carrie (1976).

Carrie is one of my favourite Stephen King books. And, because I'm a book whore, you know what I'm going to say, right? The book was better. BUT, the film adaptation is absolutely brilliant and the book only just beats it because of the ending. I would so love to see the book's ending on the film. Let the whole frickin' town burn.

(Whelp, if you don't know much about me, you should probably know that I grew up pagan in a town with 13 churches. I guess you could say I identify with poor Carrie White.)

Right, over to Jay for his take on this King classic.

I was a teenager when I saw 'Carrie' but it had been out for a good few years already. We were a group of rowdy boys so we weren't really paying much attention at first. That quickly changed, though, with the nudity in the shower scene. The tits got our attention but we kept watching because the movie was so engaging.

Though the story is very good, 'Carrie' is kind of a slow-burner. It takes a lot of build-up to get to the ending, when she gets covered in pigs blood, but is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Those last ten minutes, boy, you really sit up and pay attention to.

The prom scene is agonisingly drawn out and you know it's one of those moments that lasts forever. Carrie White's best and worst moments in life, only seconds apart. I don't know what it's like for a boy watching that scene but, for a girl, it twists your heart all up. You know what's coming, you have to, but you want to reach out and grab the rope. You want Carrie's moment to stay happy forever but, of course, this is a King film and that ain't gonna happen.

It's interesting that you should mention the difference between watching 'Carrie' as a girl versus watching as a boy. If you'd asked me, I would have said that a woman wrote Carrie because it's just so intimate, especially at the beginning with the tampons. You really get a glimpse inside the mind of a marginalised young woman. I don't know how King managed to pull that off . (I know I haven't figured out how to get inside a woman's mind yet. What does King know that the rest of us mortal men don't?)

There are two parts to that. Yes, it's absolutely a horror film that girls can identify with. Getting your first period is life-changing. Take that and compound it with the shock and horror Carrie must have felt because her mother was, well, a nut job who kept the facts of life from her and you've got great horror that will make any girl cringe. (Unless you're one of those girls who identifies with the bitches chanting, "Plug it up," in which case I direct your attention to the end of the prom scene.)

The second part is that 'Carrie' showcases how absolutely horrid girls can be to one another. I blame society for that. Women are constantly taught that they have to compete with one another over everything from beauty to boyfriends. Imagine the kind of movie 'Carrie' would have been if society taught women to lift one another up and support one another, rather than tear each other down.

You're right that 'Carrie' is basically a coming-of-age film, with a lot of death. And, it's definitely about bullying. There's more happening than that, though. Don't forget you've got Carrie's mother who is, for lack of a better phrase, bat shit crazy and is harbouring some seriously disturbed feelings toward the opposite sex. You've also got this innate psychic power that's never really explained but is brilliantly evoked through the use of things like cracking mirrors. Whatever else 'Carrie' might be, at the end of the day, it's still a horror film 

The movie is slightly dated, since it was set in the 1970s. In Britain, at the time 'Carrie' was made, we didn't really know about things like prom (although we do now), which made it more interesting. Anything "other" will always make you more uneasy. 

I think it's a bit more dated than Jay does, but I didn't grow up in the Seventies so it feels painfully Seventies to me. Not that its being dated or not makes any real difference to the film. Well, this film, anyway. The remake of Carrie was essentially a carbon copy, without any attempt having been made to bring it up to date. You really felt the awkwardness watching that version. Things that were acceptable in the original because, hey, it was the Seventies, weren't not okay in the 2013 remake, if that makes sense.

Be honest, the remake was just poor, as is so often the case. It was never going to be as good, anyway, without Sissy Spacek. Sissy Spacek was perfect for the role. She's not a conventional beauty, you know? She can look utterly amazing but she can also look creepy and bugged eyed. You really don't see her enough anymore. She's a fabulous actress. 

Agreed. That wide-eyed look of hers is essentially to making the prom scene work. When it cuts to split screen and you've got Carrie's wild eyes darting around the room, with the effects of her rage on the other side of the screen... damn. That's some freaky shit.

I think we could go on for a lot longer on this one but since we have plenty more days in the month, we'd better wrap it up. Don't forget to come back tomorrow to see which movie we've chosen to add to our 31 Days of Classic Horror list.

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