Tag: Sissy Spacek

MOVIE REVIEW | Carrie (1976)

Carrie 1976
Stephen King adaptations seem to miss way more often they hit as movies.  And for me, I think the strike rate is even worse than box office receipts would show.  Even something like The Shining, which has an amazing reputation among movie nerds, never grabbed me.  As is legally require by anyone of my generation, I really love Stand By Me.  And The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies I can’t turn off if I stumble across it while channel surfing.  Which I guess means I like his non-horror stories way more than the horror work that made him the highest selling author of all time and possibly the most adapted by Hollywood.  And that all began with his first published novel that would also go on to be the first to be made into a movie, Carrie.

In what has to be one of the greatest pieces of casting ever, Sissy Spacek is Carrie, a lonely, strange girl, isolated from the realities of life by her crazy, protective, religious mother (Piper Laurie).  Everything different about Carrie has also made her the target of the popular, pretty girls at school.  After the latest round of abuse at school, Carrie is taken under the wing of Betty Buckley’s gym teacher, Miss Collins.

Miss Collins threatens the mean girls with being banned from the prom after their last piece of emotional abuse, and head bitch Chris (Nancy Allen) decides to get the ultimate revenge, with the help of her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) and a whole mess of pig’s blood.  Meanwhile, former mean girl Sue (Amy Irving) has decided to try to make amends by having her dreamboat boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) take Carrie to the prom.  Oh, and because this is a Stephen King story, Carrie is also developing telekinetic powers while all of this is going on.

Everything good about Carrie comes down to Sissy Spacek.  That vacant look behind her dead doll’s eyes…   The slumped over, beaten down posture of someone with no concept of confidence…  The look of evil and cold satisfaction that comes when she unleashes her powers…  All of these things make what is a ludicrous character within a ludicrous story seem kind of believable.

Watching Carrie for the first time, I guess I can kind of see why it’s still so famous and iconic today, more than 35 years later.  But it didn’t blow me away in a way that makes me now want to read more King horror and watch more horror movies.  It’s a silly story taken just seriously enough by De Palma and his actors that it’s kind of scary and intense.  I’m kind of glad I’ve filled a hole in my movie knowledge, but at the same time, it didn’t have any surprises for me that hadn’t been ruined years ago after a lifetime of references, parodies and knock offs.

Carrie
Directed By – Brian De Palma
Written By – Lawrence D Cohen 

MOVIE REVIEW | Carrie (2013)

Carrie 2013
Whenever remakes come out, nine times out off ten, my reaction is, why?  I can kind of understand it with something special effects heavy like King Kong.  Traditionalists will tell you the 30s original is amazing, while the rest of the world just wants slick CGI that makes the monkey look real.  I totally get it when there’s a remake because the first version wasn’t very good and wasted a good story, like the terrible half animated Lord of the Rings.  And there are times when it seems totally unnecessary and the new version barely strays from the old, yet it’s still great, like the Coen Brothers remake of True Grit.  Then there’s Carrie, a movie I couldn’t see a single reason for remaking, until I watched the 2013 remake on the same weekend as seeing the 1974 original for the first time.

Sticking pretty close to De Palma’s original, and I assume Steven King’s source novel, it’s still about a weirdo high school girl, this time played by Chloe Grace Moretz, her nut job, abusive mother (Julianne Moore), her sympathetic gym teacher (Judy Greer) and some real class A bitches who pick on her at school.  When pushed too far, Carrie starts to exhibit telekinetic powers.  And she gets pushed too far a lot.

At first, the faithfulness to the original made me wonder why the remake needs to exist.  The beauty of a protagonist with telekinesis means your special effects budget only needs to be big enough to afford a few rolls of fishing line.  Make some furniture move around the room and bingo, powers displayed.  It’s not as if 2013 CGi technology really ads a lot to this movie.  But then I realised why it’s not such a lazy idea remaking Carrie.

It’s a movie about high school kids, so the target audience is probably also high school kids looking for some cheap thrills and scares.  With that in mind, I don’t think a 2013 teenager would even recognise the world in the original movie.  No computers, no mobile phones, teachers smoking in their office, John Travolta before being ravaged by decades of hiding in that closet.  The world of 1974 just doesn’t exist anymore.

And even though the screenplays are almost identical, Kimberly Pierce’s direction makes it look and feel like a totally different world to De Palma’s.  Here, the teenagers are actually played by teenagers, instead of adults in their mid to late 20s.  It’s also way less pervey, no opening titles set in slow motion with full frontal nudity of the ‘high school girls’ locker room.  No long, creepy exploitation of Carrie in the shower when embarrassment hits.  Pierce’s version gets to the point a little quicker without so much fodder for Mr Skin to mine later.

There are a couple of moments though when the updated version slows down to spell out the odd plot point and character motivation in explicit detail, when the original was happy to just put it out there, move on and assume the audience was on the right track.

As someone with no feelings of nostalgia for the original, this remake of Carrie is totally fine.  The main place it falls apart is in the casting for the main role.  I think Chloe Moretz is generally great.  She was perfect in the first Kick-Ass, she was great in Hugo and she managed to make the English language remake  of Let the Right One In almost as good as the original.  But she’s just too pretty for the role of Carrie.  Sissy Spacek had such a perfect, kind of strange look in the original.  Even with frumpy clothes and bushy ginger hair, Moretz still looks like she should be hanging out with the glamorous mean girls, not the victim of their cliquey abuse.

Carrie
Directed By – Kimberly Pierce
Written By – Lawrence D Cohen, Robert Aguirre-Sacasa