Halloween Scene: Carrie (1976)

I am ridiculously embarrasses to admit that I have never seen Carrie all the way through, unrated up until this point. I swear, I THOUGHT I had. It was even crossed off in my copy of Creature Features, but, after deciding to watching something classic on the NetBox and choosing Carrie, I quickly realized I had never seen this movie. You know how I knew I’d never seen it? The tampon scene. I’ve heard about it and remembered hearing about a little too late and was completely horrified. Not by the menstruation itself, but by how utterly horrible that would be if it happened to you in public and, instead of people being like “Oh hey, we all do that and don’t die, no worries” they laugh and throw tampons. Even the fat, ugly girl with glasses. What does she have to laugh at!!!

Sorry, I got heated up watching this flick (is that a pun?). I had three overwhelming emotions the whole time: dread, anger and hope. See, we all know about the pig’s blood at the prom and that carnage quickly ensues. But I was still gritting my teeth the entire time Carrie was getting ready for the Greatest American Hero to take her to prom. I kept wondering if he and his maybe girlfriend (the survivor) were in on it, or if they really were just being nice. I wanted him to be a nice guy because he really seemed like one, unlike that pig-killing mook Travolta. Anyway, once the craziness actually started (and boy, does director Brian De Palma play these scenes up to all their nerve-wracking potential) that’s when the rage kicks in. It’s weird because I don’t usually get this emotional when watching a movie, but the dread I felt reminded me of the first time I saw Dark Knight. I had a visceral, in-my-gut reaction to Heath Ledger’s Joker. I was scared of the screen whenever he was on. I had the same feeling leading up to the prom scene. That’s a hell of a thing to get a jaded film fan like me to feel.

Think about it. The dumb villain girl was SO angry at someone else for HER OWN MISTAKE that she set into motion a fairly complicated plan with a lot of working parts that went off without a hitch, all for the sole purpose of humiliating the initial victim of her jerkiness AGAIN. If she had survived, the CIA should have picked her up to plan assassinations, cause she’s cold blooded.

Also, wow, I did not see the teacher’s death coming. That was nutzocrazytown. Bisected even. You gotta reign that in Carrie, at least to have one witness who can blame the dumb girl with the red hat for everything even though she’s dead (sup PJ Soles).

This far into the review, I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I’ve never read Stephen King’s novel that this was based on, so I have no idea how much of the movie was in the book and vice versa or how “accurate” it was, but it works perfectly on the screen. One of the most impressive story elements is the layers of danger. You’ve obviously got Carrie with her crazy power and the evilness of teenage girls, but also Carrie’s mom. You NEVER know what she’s gonna do. Damn. I wonder of JK Rowling got the closet idea from Carrie. If so, she should have put a scene in the movies where Harry burns their stupid house to the ground, because you NEED that kind of catharsis after a movie like this. And, even as much as I wanted Carrie to survive this whole mess, move to another town and start over, maybe raise a child of her own who isn’t crazy, she had to pay for what she did.

Finally, the final bit. Unlike the prom scene, there was zero dread for the final “hand out of the ground” scare. Part of the reason is that my memory was refreshed of the scene while watching Going To Pieces, when Sean Cunningham and Tom Savini are talking about the ending of Friday the 13th. They talk about having just seen Carrie and wanting to do something like that, hence the burnt kid out of the water. Another factor that kind of took me out of the moment comes from the survivor’s mom. She’s talking to her friend on the phone and says something along the lines of “The doctor says that she’s young and she’ll forget.” Haha, what?! She’s 17 or 18 and she’s going to forget the night her entire class was decimated by Hellfire and a house fell into the earth? The night her maybe-boyfriend died? Wow, good doctoring there. The final reason why it wasn’t very scary is that it’s very obviously a dream, She’s all glowy and whatnot, plus the hand comes out kind of slow and sloppily. I guess it would have been pretty scary the first time you saw it, but I guess I’ve seen too many movies that ripped the idea of that last minute scare like F13 and The Strangers.

Faculty Advisory

2008-07-10
3:32:44 am

Robert Rodriguez is one of those director’s who’s always impressed me. Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn, Planet Terror and his Mexico Trilogy were all great in my mind. So, when we got our online Blockbuster account I added just about all of his movies, especially looking forward to The Faculty because 15-year-old TJ wasn’t allowed to see it and later TJs never got around to it. Well, the wait was a pretty long one and then, what do you know, we included it in ToyFare’s Best Alien Invasions (see ToyFare #133 on sale today to find out what place it took and who snagged the #1 spot). So, with that, I borrowed the flick and watched it last night.

The Faculty (1998)

Written by Kevin Williamson, David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Starring Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Usher, Josh Hartnett, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Jon Stewart and many more

Well, you can add this one to the list of Rodriguez movies that I dug. Part of it was a sense of nostalgia I got while watching it. It kind of reminded me of Can’t Hardly Wait. Not thematically, but when it comes to star power. There are SO MANY familiar faces in this movie. Just check out the list above. Freakin’ Jon Stewart plays a science teacher who gets possessed by an alien parasite and stabbed in the eye with some kind of caffeine drug. Great stuff.

Oh, I guess I should explain the plot. A small town in Ohio gets invaded by alien parasites who burrow their way into bodies, taking over control of the inhabitant. Elija Wood’s character finds one of the parasites on the football field and later finds himself in a closet with the hot girl as they see the football coach (T-1000 himself Robert Patrick) and another teacher drop a parasite in the hot nurse (Salma Hayek). From there a mismatched group of high schoolers (think basically The Breakfast Club. Don’t know what that is? Go away) bands together and figures out that the drugs that Josh Hartnett’s been peddling around the school can kill them and do their best to stop the invasion.

I really like how they don’t muck about when it comes to the story on this flick. You’re into the story pretty early on with Elija Wood finding the parasite. They don’t mess around with “is this really happening” BS too much that comes with these kinds of movies. You get your set group of characters pretty early on and you strap in for the ride with them. I also like that Matt Parkman’s partner from Heroes (Clea DuVall) actually compares what’s going on to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and all that. She tells Elija Wood about this and he wonders if all the movies and whatnot about aliens is actually a way for them to get people complacent so they don’t think an alien invasion is possible. It’s a great bit of business that feels really natural in “our world.”

Speaking of the cast again, it’s a lot of fun to see some pretty huge actors (along with some not-so-huge and completely unknown actors) in these roles. But they’re also really really convincing in their roles. Elija Wood looks like a huge geek and acts like one too. Josh Hartnett’s loser Zeke is pretty much a genius who just doesn’t like school and deals drugs on campus. They all handle the Thing-like suspense of “who’s an alien and who’s not?” so convincingly that I really couldn’t figure out who was and who wasn’t.

I also liked how the special FX (do they still spell it like that? Probably not, oh well) looked. Especially in the scene where the parasite-controlled Jon Stewart attacks the kids in a classroom. Zeke rips the blade off of a paper cutter and chops Stewart’s fingers off. But they don’t just lie there, the snake themselves towards the kids. But that’s not all, whisps of blood snake out from his fingers until he’s stabbed in the eye, foams and the parasites under his skin die. Crazy stuff.

All in all, this is a fun little romp that shows off Rodriguez’s directing chops along with the acting talent of the cast that has gone on to prove itself just as well as the adults who play the teachers. Oh and Bebe Nuerth looks hot as the principal. Yeah, I said it.