Thursday, September 26, 2013

Carrie (1976)


For as long as I have been a fan of horror, I am telling you, Carrie never gets old and never becomes less frightening to watch.  And the most interesting thing is that films like this will always leave you wondering if not wanting more. 

Carrie White, (Sissy Spacek) an apparent high school misfit, abuses the privilege of being an outcast and a loser.  I mean even the biggest losers have birds of a feather.  However, Carrie just does not belong at all.  You see, adolescent girls and boys, at least back in my time, had a very cruel tendency of being closed minded.  Maybe to a point I was too, I don't know.  But if Carrie's peers had any idea of the abuse she suffered from her schizoid religious fanatic mother, who scared me more than Carrie herself,  do you think maybe then they would be a little more sympathetic?  Chalk it up to hormones and peer pressure then?  Either way, Carrie was misunderstood and dying for a chance.  A chance she apparently never got.  Although, what people did not know nor ever fathomed, was that Carrie wasn't as alone as people thought.  She had a special and unique gift that would always work to her advantage when pushed too far.  She had the telekenetic ability to levitate objects with her mind if she focused hard enough.  And if she focused hard on anything.....

When a girl who is a Senior in High School, has no idea of what menstruation is and blows a gasket when getting her first period,  you know that there is something obviously wrong.  Did the other girls especially ring leader Christine Hargensen ( Nancy Allen), consider that when bombarding Carrie with tampons getting the other girls to join in?  How tragic is it when your gym teacher comes to your rescue, being your ONLY support system in the entire world?  Her reaching out to Carrie after her humiliating ordeal almost makes certain people question their relationships with their own mothers.  I guess it is somewhat of a role reversal; mother is crazy, overbearing, pseudo- religious, (aka insane), believes sex is a sin and that menstruation is an inherent of some kind of evil,  keeps you locked in your closet so you don't go around spreading your "sin",  THEN,  you have your gym teacher, who abides by the honor system and explains the stage of womanhood to you, and makes one of Chris Hargensen's best friends Sue Snell (Amy Irving) feel so guilty for not abiding by the "honor system", that Sue actually pleads with her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt), the cutest and popular boy in school, to take Carrie to the Senior Prom .  Who is the REAL mother here? DNA cannot be more misleading..

I can go on and on about how horrific the subsequent chain of events are; the vicious prank Chris Hargensen and her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta)  play on Carrie at the prom, rigging the Prom King and Queen winners, making it so that Tommy and Carrie win and once they hit center stage, Chris and Billy pull the rope pouring the bucket of pig's blood all over Carrie, etc. etc. However, anybody can talk about feeling scared during the infamous Prom Scene and the following murder-wreckage scene.  But let's look deep into the title itself : Carrie.  Who was Carrie? 

Carrie was more misunderstood than a tabloid and more underestimated than an undercover cop soliciting a prostitute.  She was a lonely girl and an apparent victim of her mother's child abuse.  She had no father figure to raise and guide her, so she was stuck with her schizoid mama.  (We don't really know what mental illness Margaret White had, we just know she was crazy).  Now in Brian DePalma's version of Carrie which was my favorite, we never got an idea of what Carrie used to be like.  She apparently didn't have a hard time adjusting to being Tommy Ross' date and sharing her first kiss.  She was just dying to break out of her internal prison.  So apparently she knew at some point that there was something morbidly wrong with her mother.  However, in the remake made for television version, we knew Carrie as a young child, was possessed with a terrifying power that preyed on her every emotional trigger point.  As a young girl, she still knew something was amiss at home.  School was more or less the same story; she got bullied by her peers since grade school, and was the butt of every joke.  But did her peers have a legitimate reason?  All they saw was this creepy religious girl who condemned each and every classmate to Hell, that is everybody except her and her Mama.  Now if we were of age and were to actually know somebody like that personally, how do you think we would react?  I guess what I am really trying to ask is, was Carrie White evil?

The apple never falls too far from the tree.  Unfortunately, we only know Carrie's mother, not her father.  Carrie did not possess the pseudo-religious and crazy psychotic tendencies that Margaret does, which makes me wonder if perhaps, she takes after her father.  Her father after all, was the one who introduced her mother to the "art" of sin, hence, conceiving the "Spawn of the Devil".  In the novel, Ralph White was the one who stopped Margaret from killing Carrie as an infant. I wonder, if her father did not leave them, what if he had been the one to raise Carrie himself?  Could she have been normal then?  How did Ralph and Margaret's courtship begin and how did she become so demented?  And this brings us to the most critical aspect of it all; Carrie's POWER. 

If you had the power to change things to your advantage, would you?  Stupid question maybe, but give it enough thought.  Where do you draw the line between making marbles dance and wreaking a blazing inferno at your Senior Prom?  I have read personally about people whose very negative energy could turn the lights off in a room upon entrance.  But for a vengeful human being, who has been pushed one too many times, is it possible to transform that negative energy into something that could be life threatening?  Is this power unique or is it more common than any of us may be aware of? 

Carrie, although very fictional, connects with us on a very emotional level.  It is a Horror-Tragedy at best.  It raises a lot of logical questions as if we were taking a part in the story itself.  The tragedy is what makes it horrific in my personal opinion.  Just like Pet Sematary, anything that has to do with family, hits home and leads to fears of being set free in the darkness, not knowing what is waiting for you in the dark.  In Carrie's case, the deep tragedy lay in her mother's emotional inability to love her and nurture her the way a real mother should, yet Carrie knowing her mother was the root cause of all her troubles, still loved her no matter what.  Margaret expressed "love" in her own way, while refusing to believe she was the root cause of her daughter's troubles.  Hell, if Carrie had listened to her own mother and not gone to the Prom, she never would have been the butt of the final and ultimate High School prank.  And then maybe, Carrie, too would have lived.  This was a love-hate relationship at it's finest.  But no matter what, the umbilical cord never gets severed.  Ahh, love is so convoluted.     

Now, I am awaiting the new and upcoming Carrie remake.