For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today’s film tackles high school bullying with the original, 1972 version of "Carrie.”
When it comes to picking scary movies, I will almost always refuse to watch modern horror films, psychological thrillers or any kind of gore-related slashers. But give me any low-budget film that is at least 20-years old and preferably full of feathered hair and melodramatic screams, and I’m sold. Based on the Stephen King novel, Brian De Palma’s 1976 film, “Carrie,” has just the right level of weird kitsch to confuse and entertain you all at the same time.
The film opens on Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) a mousy high-school outcast in the midst of — you guessed it — sassy girls rocking the feathered hair and jeering glares. Carrie is endlessly bullied by these expertly coiffed ladies and receives little sympathy, even from teachers who laugh at her in front of entire classrooms. It’s the setup for any stereotypical high school drama, except for one key difference: Carrie has telekinesis. Now we’re getting to the real drama.
Carrie returns home from a day of bullying to her psychotically religious mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie), who forces her to recite all kinds of creepy biblical creeds and locks her in a closet for hours. Basically, it becomes pretty clear why Carrie is so sheltered and socially awkward. As soon as the mother appeared on camera I knew something was up. With a disturbing grin and a giant black cloak, she does things like go door-to-door trying to get neighbors to repent from their ungodly ways. The underlying religious commentary on the character is clear, but there’s a perfect level of cheeriness to her portrayal that made me giggle every time she yelled “repent!”
Taking sympathy on the tortured Carrie are fellow classmates Sue Snell (Amy Irving) and Tommy Ross (William Katt). The two arrange for Tommy — obviously the school hottie judging by his flowing blonde mane — to ask Carrie to the senior prom to make up for the endless bullying she’s endured. Despite her crazy mother’s demands to remain home, Carrie goes to the prom and, in the natural order of high-school outcast stories, is elected prom queen.
Now this is where it gets good. Carrie’s confidence, pent-up anger and telekinetic ability have reached their high point and she’s overcome the wrath of her mother. Carrie finally cracks in the most frighteningly goofy scene ever, after one of her snarky classmates decides to ruin her moment in the spotlight.
The best part about “Carrie” is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. In fact, the majority of the scenes leading up to that climactic moment are complete non-sequiters — my personal favorite being a ridiculously long scene involving shopping for prom tuxedos. Do we need to know about which ruffles the boys choose for their dress shirts? No. Do we love it anyways? Of course. Because the best kinds of horror movies are the kinds that make very little sense and result in a lot of mildly confused laughter.
Why is it important that you watch this version now? The remake of “Carrie” premieres this Friday! Judging by the ads, this version should provide a much darker, more serious twist on the original, focusing much more on special effects and much less on hair quality — bummer, I know.
If you’re still looking for that perfect Halloween getup, the Carrie look shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. Just make sure you’re comfortable being covered in fake blood from head to toe, wear a long dress, and don’t forget to middle part your hair. Then proceed to spend the entire evening staring at objects willing them to move. And who knows, they just might.