Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Carrie (1976)

Ok. Sorry. It's just that, I know sometimes people will just click the Social Network Facebook link and then exit out before actually reading what I took oh so much time to write about, and I want everyone to read this, because I'm having a hard time containing myself.
Man, I really should review movies I don't love to death. I'm seeing Paranormal Activity 2 on Sunday so hopefully that will be a movie I can write about but not gush over.
I'm going to make several disjointed claims about the 1976 'Carrie', and will attempt to back up such claims.
Carrie is not only a benchmark of 70's horror, it is a benchmark of 70's cinema. It exemplifies, in the most honest way, the process of making a movie with what you've got. The movie makes no excuses and is unashamed, which bears a similarity to Carrie as a character, but I'll get into that later.
The production designer, Jack Fisk, was nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for There Will Be Blood, so that explains why this movie looks so amazing. You'll notice the scenes in the locker room, the slaughterhouse, Carrie's home, and (especially) the prom are all perfectly melted together to form the world of Carrie. The only downside (and I mean, seriously, the only downside) to this movie is the cinematography. It was shot by some no-name and the result is a very blurred movie. I understand it may have been intentional- the whole movie is like a dream sequence- but still, it's not something you just don't notice after the first five minutes. 
The direction- sinister. Brian de Palma, baby. He's the man who brought us Mission: Impossible and, yes, Scarface. How do I describe the direction? It's certainly not the thing that made this movie memorable, but it definitely would not have been the same without de Palma. This isn't a movie that relies solely on one or two things, the cast of design, for example- this movie is a team effort- which is why I really liked the prom in this movie- it's the climax, and it is perfect. I'm not just talking about the scene where Carrie snaps, I'm talking about the scenes where they're setting the prom up, and the prom itself. All I can say is to watch this movie, if only for the prom scene. 
The prom in this movie is a lot of things. One, it is the best high school dance I've ever seen on film. Even when Carrie and Tommy are outside, waiting to go in, you know what's inside those doors. 'Are you scared?' Tommy asks Carrie. 'Don't worry, they're a good crowd. Really, they are,' And he's right. This prom kicked a lot of ass. I'm not trying to sound like one of those guys who got, like, way too excited for prom, but if you see Carrie, you'd see what I mean. This prom was awesome. Ok. I can't dance around it anymore. I've got to talk about Sissy Spacek. This will lead back into prom, I promise, get that look of your face.
*fun fact- Brian De Palma would send out set invitations for this movie, because of all the attractive women, and Steven Spielberg was a frequenter. He asked out every girl on set, and the only one that said yes was Amy Irving, and they got married and had a kid. All because De Palma had some action.
I'm not trying to sound like a womanizer (it's very difficult, you understand), but there really aren't a lot of actresses I enjoy watching on film. I don't really make a point to seek them out, they usually just find me. Sissy Spacek is now one of my favorite actresses. She is unreal in Carrie. Her transformation is so devastating. She goes from, obviously, the totally oblivious freak with a crazy mother to prom queen to demon. The scene following where she tells her mother to SIT DOWN is absolutely mesmerizing. That is the montage of Carrie getting ready for the prom. And she. Is. Ready. God, you know, I read the book Carrie over the summer, and I can safely say the movie is way better than the book. It might be that I just couldn't get fully into the book, but I did not get the transformation Carrie goes under to get ready for prom. She goes from seriously the most abominable looking girl to the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen. I fell in love with Carrie. God, did this movie kill me. Her mother warned her- 'they're all going to laugh at you', and they did. They all laughed at her and she snapped. If she had just listened to her mother and stayed at home, nobody would have died. And oh man, do they die. The whole prom goes into chaos. You have to see this movie. Carrie can't believe this is happening- she's having such a good time, but that's not it. She's having a miraculous time. She's literally having the greatest night of her life, and then they all seem to betray her. They really are a good crowd, until something goes wrong that they laugh at, that is. After the blood comes down, all you can hear is the dripping from the can. It's all in slow motion. You see every individual shocked face slowly form into maniacal laughter, and then it happens. She snaps. I can't explain the following moments without completely doing an injustice to the movie. 'Carrie White burns in Hell'. She turns into something powerful, into something her mother said she'd turn into. Her mother was right, and Carrie knows it. See how scatterbrained I am over this movie? It's all an internal commentary on our belief systems, to sound as political as possible. Carries mother might be crazy, sure, (Piper Laurie is UNBELIEVABLY CRAZY IN THIS MOVIE), but she's right. She was right the whole time, at least in Carries mind, and this movie is filmed in such a way that it's a POV of high school from Carries perspective. Her home life, her life at school, her amazing night at prom, and the greediness that overcomes her once she is handed unlimited power. Everything, seriously, everything about this movie is terrifying, but not in the conventional sense. Not in the sense that makes it a horror movie; I can't assign a genre to Carrie. It's everything. God, the shot where she wins prom queen. All in slow motion, she's so happy, she's so infinitely happy, she's glowing. She can't believe this could ever happen to her, and she's not the kind of girl who would have expected it to be anything amazing, which is another reason why her character is so classical- almost mythical. She's very, very classically portrayed as a character we've never seen before. The guy who wrote it wrote IT (the miniseries), and IT was my favorite Stephen King movie, before I saw Carrie. Carrie is not only the best Stephen King movie out there, it is the scariest and most tragic movie I've ever seen, and I mean it. I can't believe I hadn't seen it before last night. It is seriously something to mull over. How things can change so quickly. Carries life withers away so fast, up until the scene where the house melts into the sinkhole.
I'm going to go watch it, right now, and you should do the same. I'll update this post soon enough, because this is not all I have to say about Carrie.

I humbly award Carrie four out of four squirts.

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