Monday, October 1, 2012

You Got a Little Somethin' On You, There...

For those of you who don't actually know me, this may come as a surprise.  Or it may not.  I'm not in your head.  I can't say what you think.  For all I know, you could be fantasizing about scuba diving in peanut butter.

Anyhoo, for those of you who DO know me, this may also come as a surprise but, then again, we may have only just met or we don't talk much or you're only here because you think I'm cute or something.  Again, I don't know.

But those who know me WELL know that my favorite movie, EVER, is Brian DePalma's 1976 Oscar™ nominated magnum opus of horror.


Yes, I know I said that Creepshow was the best Stephen King movie ever made but quality of film making is not what makes this my favorite movie of all time.

It almost seems silly to talk about it, really, since the movie, much like Psycho or The Birds, has become such an ingrained part of our culture but in this day and age of kids committing suicide due to bullying, I think everyone needs to watch it again.  It is THE high-school hazing revenge film and no other movie has come anywhere close to it. 

Not only is the plot relevant, even today, but, other than the obviously late 70's fashion and some of the slang used, it's timeless.  The situation presented can occur in just about any modern day high school and, unless the acting is so wooden as to claim Pinocchio in it's ancestry, the characters can be felt and understood by anyone who's ever gone to any educational institution, anywhere.  We all know the class system in school.  We all know the pretty bitch, the jock, the smart kid, the cool kid, the bad boy, the nice guy, and the victim.  It's BECAUSE these themes and these people are so prevalent in our daily lives that this film is so poignant and so horrific.

For those of you who have lived under a rock since 1974, Carrie is Stephen King's first published novel and it remains one of his most popular, even today.  It concerns a Miss Carrietta White (played by a young Sissy Spacek), a shy, naive girl who, it seems, has been the school scapegoat since she began attending school.  Largely, this is because of her religious upbringing.  You see, her overbearing, ham-handed and, really, really loony mother IS her religion.  It's never really explained in the movie but you can see it.  (The book states that her mother was the church and the preacher and held services three days a week with Carrie as her only parishioner.)  Piper Laurie, who portrayed her in the film, did a WONDERFUL job of playing this up (and, in the process, gave us some FANTASTIC one-liners that I make it my mission to use at least once a day because I'm just that kind of nerd).

The movie starts with probably the least sexy shower scene ever, barring the bath scene in Cabin Fever, alongside a hazing incident that is both awful and HILARIOUS and this sets in motion an avalanche.  Little things add up over the course of the film and lead to the creation of a villain that did not have to be.

Ultimately, Carrie White is a monster but (spoiler alert, ya nerds) her telekinetic power, which she was born with and chose to develop simply because she had it, is not WHY she is a monster (regardless of her mother's abject and religiously motivated fear of it).

She didn't set out to be a monster, she was made.  She is to blame for her actions and her use of her ability as a weapon but the fact that she was driven to them by everyone around her makes her a sympathetic monster.  Ms. White, because of her religion (which some of the girls took to be a "holier-than-thou" attitude, even though all Carrie ever wanted was to belong but she wasn't able to get out from under her mother's thumb to do so), was subjected to all manners of abuse from her peers that she, being the girl she was, had to let sit and fester inside and because of who her mother was, she had no outlet.  Her mother wouldn't allow her to have friends so her peers teased her and she accepted it because it was the only interaction that she had with them and if she DID go to her mother about the teasing, her mother blamed HER for it which made her internalize even more which her peers mistook for more self-righteousness which caused more abuse which garnered more abuse from her mother and... well, you see where I'm going with this.  This cycle of abuse is as painful to watch in the film as it is to describe and, ultimately, makes this movie the Titus Andronicus of horror (only without the rape) and it all culminates with the infamous Prom Scene, and if you don't know what happened THERE, then you need to stop reading this and go watch the damn movie, already.

I have some very personal reasons for identifying with Carrie but the fact that it's just a damn good movie makes me love it.  I love it so much that I didn't even hate the TV remake with Angela Bettis (although the fact that it was meant to be a pilot episode for a series freaked me out) and I will probably be the first in line to see the 2013 remake with Chloe Moretz.  The story is simply eternal and must be shared.

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