Monday, October 31, 2011

"Carrie" 1976


This is the first published novel by Stephen King.  He had written a few other novels that didn't make it at that point.  He was working as an English teacher and writing in the closet of a trailer.  He started what he thought would be a short story.  He reportedly threw it in the trash and his wife Tabitha pulled it out and encouraged him to keep going. 

As a novel it is interesting.  It is part story and part documentary.   Newspaper clippings and quotes from an investigation are patched in between the narrative. 

The novel examines goes from the point of view of Carrie White, Sue Snell and Chris Hargensen. 

Carrie is tortured at home and school.  She desires nothing more than to feel normal.  Her mother has a hand in the awkwardness.  She has lived in virtual isolation made to believe that her very existence is sinful. 

Sue Snell is the all American future prom queen.  She has her dress hanging in the closet and her perfect football playing boyfriend.    

Chris is also popular but has a cruel streak.  She is the original mean girl.  Something inside her becomes angered by differences.  It makes her feel better to keep others down.  Fifteen years later she would have been one of the "Heathers".   

The movie is a really good adaptation.  It was difficult I am sure because so much takes place inside the characters' heads.  But it really captures high school in a nut shell. 

Girls are really mean in high school.

One thing that never rang true for me in this movie is the shower scene.  Not what happens.  Sissy Spacek is amazing.  Her reaction to her first period is incredible and real.  The rest of the girls starting to spontaneously go crazy and pelt her with feminine hygiene products is realistic. 

But the girls walking around in various states of undress is not.  Don't get me wrong.  There are those girls who don't have a problem with the naked.

But most teenage girls are not proud of their bodies.  Even though it may be the best shape they will ever be in for the rest of their lives.    They are in a constant state of judgement by themselves or others.  One of the first things you master is the art of changing your clothes without ever showing any skin.  Trust me it can be done.  Three years of swimming in gym taught me well.  That and the fact that if you didn't get your hair wet you didn't have to shower. 

The movie is excellent.  It has a powerful emotional core that elevates it beyond the typical horror movie.  Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were both nominated for Academy Awards. 

There are some things other than the nudity that don't work.  I really don't like William Katt as Tommy.  It is as if he and his friends are there for comic relief.  In the book you get the sense that Tommy falls a little bit in love with Carrie.  Not enough to do anything against Sue.  Just enough to make her feel special.   In the movie he is a little smirky, as if he's in on the joke.

There is a ridulous scene of Tommy and his friends trying on tuxedos that has no place in the film, right down to the goofy fast forward.  It just doesn't fit.  It personally makes me care a little less when Tommy bites it in the movie. 

Also, if you pay attention, I know where Larry the Cable Guy got his signature line.  John Travolta's Billy Nolan is encouraging his friends to kill the pigs for their blood.  At one point he yells "Git R Done!". 

If you get a chance, watch the orginal trailer.  They spell Stephen King's name wrong!  It also gives away almost the entire movie. 

But I do love this movie.  It is one of my favorite adaptations and the ending is incredible.  To get through everything and think it is over then that final shocking scare.  It has been redone many times over and has become a signature of horror movies since.  But "Carrie" did it first and best.

Happy Halloween!

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