Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review of Brian De Palma's "Carrie"

For those who haven't seen it, "Carrie" is the story of a high school girl who feels like a fish out of water. Always teased by the "cool kids" (and keep in mind this movie was from 1976, so big feathered hair, overalls--yuck!, and high waisted bell-bottoms were the unfortunate uniform for the "cool kids"--all Carrie would have had to do is point out how shitty they were dressed and it would have been all "oh, SNAP"), Carrie White felt all alone in the world, with her only ally being her gym teacher. This gym teacher is an interesting character, as she manages to violently slap a number of the girls in her gym class without getting fired and sued. Ah, 1976! When you could smack someone else's kid without reprisal!

(Interesting note--one of the mean girls is played by Edie McClurg, who also went on to play the secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off--"the dweebs, stoners...think he's a righteous dude"--so maybe seeing what happens to Carrie helped her empathize with Ferris' plight ten years later)

Anyway, Carrie also has a very religious mother who tends to get a bit stabby when her daughter wants to go to the prom. Why is Carrie going to the prom, you ask? Isn't she super-unpopular? Well, good question--it turns out that one of the popular girls, Sue, feels guilty for tossing tampons at Carrie (don't ask) and wants to make it up to her, so she forces her "heartthrob" boyfriend Tommy (and yes, heartthrobs in 1976 had flowing Jew-fros and wore lots of ruffles!) to take Carrie to the prom instead of her. Amazingly, he agrees, probably because of some promise of fetish sex that was left on the editing room floor. So, things are looking up for Carrie!

But hark! One of the mean popular girls, Chris, is pissed that due to picking on Carrie, she is barred from going to the prom with her own boyfriend Billy (played by a then-unknown John Travolta. So imagine how extra pissed Chris would be if she knew that her prom date would be Tony from Saturday Night Fever!). So Chris decides that maybe a glorified dance in the high school gym isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and maybe she and her boyfriend could instead go into town for a fancy dinner and dancing at a grown up club, followed by group sex at a swingers party. (After all, those were popular in the seventies). And in the process, Chris would learn a bit about growing up. Right?

Wrong! Chris instead decides that the best way to spend prom night is to (with Billy's help) slaughter a pig, collect the blood, rig the Prom Queen election so that Carrie wins, set up a bucket of the pigs blood (and by the way good thing the farmer wasn't around or Chris might have spent an evening having Billy pick bits of buckshot out of her ass with tweezers) on the rafters of the gym, and dump the blood on Carrie right after she gets crowned. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, it turns out that Carrie is telekinetic, which means she can use the power of her mind to move objects. While this would have made her quite excellent at a construction site--imagine lifing several tons of materials up the length of a skyscraper! The unions would have had a shit fit over that--it makes her quite dangerous to pull a nasty prank on. The sad irony is that Tommy, her reluctant date, was treating her nicely and probably realizing that Sissy Spacek (who played Carrie) was rather hot when she's all gussied up--meaning we might have seen some weird telekinetic sex play had this movie gone in a different direction.

So, Chris and Billy dump the blood on Carrie, and Carrie goes batshit, slamming the gym's doors closed, opening the firehoses which cause electrical shorts and turn the crowded gym into an inferno. This slaughters pretty much the whole school, including the gym teacher who tried to be nice to Carrie and hapless Tommy, though Carrie does manage to get out, stalking home covered in pigs blood.

When she gets home that night, her religious mother sees her blood-soaked daughter, and of course tries to stab her because she figures her telekinetic powers are an affront to God or something. Now, I've never had kids, but if my daughter comes home from prom covered in blood, I don't think I'd try stabbing her to death--telekinesis or not! Instead, I'd be all "hey, how was prom? What's with the pigs blood? You kids and your wacky traditions! In my day they served punch." But, Carrie's mother is no match for telekinesis and a set of kitchen implements, and soon she looks like a pin cushion. For some reason the house implodes though, seemingly killing them both.

What to take from this film? I think there are some clear lessons, like don't dump pigs blood on the weird girl since she might be able to destroy the town, and if your girlfriend asks you to take someone else to the prom then tell her to fuck herself. But more importantly, if you're a pig farmer, make sure you get some security system. Think of all the bacon that went to waste!

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