Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Halloween Movie Month: Carrie

Carrie (1976)
Netflix instant

Even though I love movies, there are a bunch of classics that I am embarrassed to say that I have never seen before.  Carrie is one of those movies.  Carrie is also one of those movies that everyone knows the plot to.  I seriously cannot remember a time when I did not know what happens at the end of Carrie.  While that does take away some of the surprise of what happens, I still enjoy seeing the how of what happens - what leads up to the dramatic end.  Also, I really want to see the remake because it looks like it is awesome!...and I wanted to see the original before the remake.

Even though everyone knows the plot of Carrie and it is almost 40 years old, let me go ahead and say that there will be some spoilers below.  If you have never seen Carrie and have somehow managed to go 40 years without any hearing any spoilers, scroll to the bottom of the page to see my rating and recommendation.  Otherwise, continue reading.

One of the things that struck me was that Carrie's mother, who played a large part in Carrie's developmental delays, was a religious zealot.  I don't like the fact that the only two characters who show any sense of religion are Carrie and her zealot mother.  It plays on the stereotype that Christians are wackos and not to be trusted.  Unfortunately, there are some people out there who do live up to that stereotype.  But, there are also plenty of people out there who are good examples of what Christians are supposed to be (since I am just focusing on the movie right now, I will not be addressing the theological and philosophical perspectives that go into what actually makes a good Christian).  I wish that Carrie had at least one other character to present some sort of balance.  But, the imbalance and extremism are also literary and filmatic techniques to emphasize dichotomies.  In Carrie, that dichotomy is between the innocent and naive Carrie and the pure evil of Chris Hargensen. The character of Chris might seem like just a bully at the beginning, but the scene where John Travolta's character kills a pig to get the blood they will later dump on Carrie - she seems to get a very sick sense of satisfaction from the brutality.

My biggest complaint is that it felt like more of the movie focused on the plot of what the other girls were planning to do to Carrie, rather than on Carrie's actual story.  Sissy Spacek does a great job, but I would have loved to have seen more of her progression and character development.  To go from abused and tormented under the stairs and living in fear, to standing up to her mother - there was a huge amount of character development that goes largely unseen.

I also have a few smaller complaints.  The music is almost too descriptive.  It's either very clearly calm, psychotic, or confusion, but I don't really hear many themes running through the different pieces of music.  I wish that there had been a more unifying theme throughout all of the music.  Also, the detention scene didn't really seem to fit the tone of the movie.  It felt like the humor was a little too forced in this scene.  I think that it would have been a better fit for movies like Revenge of the Nerds or Porky's.

Rating & recommendation:  3.5.  Carrie is a classic and is required viewing for any fan of horror.  To be such an iconic horror movie though, there isn't any actual horror for the majority of the movie.  If this was the first time that you had ever seen the movie and you had no idea about the iconic prom scene, then the ending of the movie would get seriously creepy pretty quick.  Also, even though there aren't too many deaths that are actually shown, there is the implication that so many high schoolers die a fiery death.  But, the blood and the gore is not why Carrie has become such a classic.  Like many of Stephen King's stories, it is the psychological aspects that really play up the horror.  It might seem like the end scene of Sue having a nightmare is unnecessary.  However, that does what so few horror movies do...it shows some of the psychological trauma that the victims suffer, long after the source of horror has been removed.

Side notes:

  • The movie is definitely rated R.  The second scene in the movie is in the girls locker room with lots of full-frontal nudity.  That scene also makes it very clear that the movie is from the 70s.  
  • I thought that two of the characters looked familiar - and I was right!  Tommy Ross looked like the Greatest American Hero and one of the background girls looked like the secretary from Ferris Beuler's Day Off - I was right on both accounts.

Be sure to check back soon for more reviews in Halloween Movie Month!  In the meantime, leave comments on this (or any other) review, follow me here and on twitter (@GargyleReviews), and let me know what movies you'd like for me to review for Halloween Movie Month!

-The Gargyle

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