It has been awhile since I posted a movie blog review but I wanted to take enough time to get together my thoughts and ideas together on how I was going to write about one of my favorite films and books of all time. So here it is...
Carrie was Stephen King's first published novel and it was the first of his novels that I read and I have became a Stephen King fan ever since! I found the tie-in novel to the film version that was released in 1976 (the novel published in 1974) at my aunt's garage sale because it belonged to one of my older cousins. I was 11 or maybe 12 when I read it and then saw the movie when TNT still had its MonsterVision late on Saturday nights and completely took to the film. Why did it grab my attention so much? Maybe it is because the main character is a tormented young girl mostly mocked and the target of humiliation by her fellow peers and I can relate to that part of the main plot to Carrie.
The only difference between the titular Carrie White and myself is that Carrie possesses telekinesis, a latent but very potent ability to control and move objects by pure thought in situations that cause anger and distress. As you could guess having a power like this while in high school might not be such a good idea when one is tormented constantly and unlike me, Carrie not only suffers at school but at home as well. My home life compared to Carrie White's is more or less a basket of roses as she is abused by her overtly Christian Fundamentalist mother, Margaret, who sees everything as a sin...which includes her own daughter as she was the result of her own husband raping her in their otherwise "sexless" marriage.
The story and movie are driven by an incident of Carrie's everyday abuse when she starts her first period at 17 and having never been told of menstruation by her mother thinks she is dying. Her fellow female classmates decide not to sympathize but torment her instead and throw tampons and sanitary napkins at Carrie as she is in hysterics. The gym teacher stops the girls, lead by the very cruel Chris Hargensen, and later punishes them with detention in a boot camp style environment and most of the girls develop remorse for their actions...except for Chris who refuses and is banned from attending the prom.
One very remorseful girl, Sue Snell, is ashamed of her actions and decides to make up for not only the most recent incident but the years of torment Carrie has experienced by setting the girl up with her own boyfriend to take her to the senior prom. Tommy Ross, Sue's handsome, athletic yet academic boyfriend goes along with the plan out of his love for Sue and escorts Carrie to the prom where it seems that Carrie is actually beginning to fit in. She arrives in a gorgeous homemade dress and has even fixed up her appearance to look not only completely different but beautiful enough that Tommy starts to fall in love with Carrie as well. It seems like Carrie will finally have that one perfect night but she doesn't realize that Chris and her delinquent boyfriend, Billy Nolan, have one more little nasty prank in mind for the girl who has always been the butt of the joke and the class outcast. Even if you have never seen Carrie or read it, you know that a bucket of pig blood becomes the last straw and soon, a town and the people in it will pay a price for one girl's torment, one girl's hatred and one girl's kindness
This is the basic plot of the film and novel even though the style of the book is written more or less as a flashback set in the frame of a fictional documents such as interviews and excerpts from magazines and books documenting the night of Carrie's destruction, dubbed "Black Prom". Since so much is going on in the book, the reader will have to pay attention but Stephen King segues very nice and smooth between what is the present and what is the past with helpful headings for the "fictional" documents and the normal narrative goes in his delicious style of the omnipotent third person.
The 1974 novel and the 1976 film get a meshing of sorts in the 2002 remake (same plot and fictional interviews) where the effects are better but most of the acting is bland and the modern references are just horrendous. Now, I actually own the 2002 remake and it is only because I have that much appreciation for the novel that made me fall in love with Stephen King. Also I relate to its main character so much that I could watch anyone play Carrie whether they are as fabulous as Sissy Spacek (1976) or as hard trying as Angela Bettis (2002). There was of course a sequel to the 1976 film in 1999 titled The Rage: Carrie 2 but besides the reference to Carrie White directly, a cameo by Amy Irving as Sue Snell and more telekinetic outcast girl with religious mother, I view it as film of its own merit and don't know if you could really call it canonical even if parts of it fit with the original film plot more than the novel.
I'll eventually review The Rage: Carrie 2 in one of my future blogs but I wanted to focus mostly on the original Carrie because of its great sentimental and personal value. True, I don't have Carrie's telekinetic gifts or over bearingly religious mother and I am no longer in high school but I still bear the same emotional scars almost like a stain of pig's blood you can never get out. No matter how much time passes even though the stain may fade, it never dies...sin never dies whether it is your own or those brought upon you by others. I hate to end something on such a serious note but...thank you, Stephen King for not giving up on this novel so that it could be made in to one of my favorite films of all time.
On a less serious note: there is a little bit of comedy in the films and just enough horror to enjoy the movie if you think I'm trying to make it overly dramatic or anything. In fact...it's bloody good fun.
Next blog: The Brothers Grimm