Monday, August 24, 2009

"They're All Gonna Laugh At You," or Carrie (1976)

OMG, it's a new post!! Well, sort of. While browsing through my old Myspace blog posts, some of which date back almost four years, I came across my very first horror movie review, from the ancient time known as 2006, when I was 18 and just testing my blogging skills. The review was for Carrie, that 1976 Brian DePalma classic about telekinetic fury. While Carrie doesn't exactly fit in with our "So-bad-it's-good" theme here, I figured my review deserved a better home than Myspace, so here it is. Enjoy this recap written by 18 year old me.
We begin in the ultimate teenage hell: a gym class volleyball game. Among the dozen or so girls playing in matching yellow gym suits, we get our first look at Carrie. She's easy to pick out, because she's the one being verbally berated by everybody else for sucking at volleyball.
See? One of them just hit her in the head with a baseball cap! Bitches. Carrie, apparently accustomed to such abuse, just takes it all in stride and, after another equally ill-intentioned classmate informs her that "You eat shit!", she stands for a minute looking only mildly dejected before heading off to the showers with the rest of them. And it is in the gym showers that we get our first real look at how much of a misfit Carrie is and how ridiculously bitchy these girls are.

While going about her business in the shower, Carrie, to put it delicately, gets her first Monthly Visitor. And because her mother never (and we do mean NEVER..we'll get into that more later) sat her down and told her about the facts of life, Carrie has absolutely no idea what's going on and thinks she's hemmoraging to death. So of course she absolutely freaks the fuck out and comes stampeding out of the shower screaming bloody murder (no pun intended). Seeing as how we're dealing with a bunch of unsympathetic bitches, though, what she's greeted with is this:
Yep, bitches start throwing tampons at her and chanting obscenities. The mannerly young lady pictured above is Chris Hargensen, the biggest bitch of them all, and as such, the leader of all the other bitches. We're talking Regina George from Mean Girls, only about 150% more evil. So, Carrie is cowering in the corner of the shower, with feminine hygiene products raining down on her like rice at a wedding. Eventually the gym teacher makes an appearance and stops the shenanigans, but only after an overhead lightbulb bursts, seemingly on its own (Plot point!). In the next scene, before Carrie is sent home for the day due to the trauma she just endured in the shower, the principal's ashtray mysteriously flies across the room after he calls her 'Cassie' one too many times.
See? There it goes. What the light bulb and the ashtray serve to tell us, of course, is that Carrie's got the telekinesis. She can MOVE SHIT WITH HER MIND. Only she doesn't know it yet. But she will soon and then shit is gonna go down big time. But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. It's at this point in the movie that it's time to meet Carrie's mother.
Meet Carrie's mother. At first glance you might think she's just your average, normal but sort-of scarily religious Bible peddler. You'd be wrong. Oh boy howdy, would you be wrong. Wait until she gets the phone call from Carrie's school about what went down in the gym showers. She. gets. PISSED. "Oh sure," you're probably saying. "I don't blame her. I'd probably be pretty pissed too if I found out a bunch of high school age twats threw tampons at my kid after she got her first period in the shower." Nope. That's not what she's pissed about. No, she's mad at Carrie. For getting her period. I don't think you're quite taking the journey with me, so I'll say that again.

She's mad at Carrie. For getting her period.

And in case that's not enough evidence by itself that Momma is a bit of a nut, she starts beating Carrie with a Bible and ranting about how she must be an awful sinning harlot to have been visited by the monthly curse of womanhood, because nice God-fearing girls never have to deal with such things. Finally, she just drags Carrie into a closet, locks her in, and orders her to pray to the Scary Jesus Statue.
Christ, look at that thing. Here it is close-up:
I mean, damn! It's a wonder Carrie doesn't have more issues than she does, considering that this is definitely not the first time she's been locked in a closet and forced to pray to THAT. I mean, she's probably been locked in there with that thing since childhood. That would fuck a kid UP! I mean, Jesus....look at the eyes! They're fucking glowing!

Unfortunately, we can't stay in Carrie's closet the whole movie, so now we're back in the same Horror High School from the day before. This is very important, because this is where we the audience meet Tommy Ross.
That's him in the front, with the girlish blonde curls that were apparently all the rage for teenage boys in the late 70s. Carrie has a total crush on him. Unfortunately, his girlfriend is Sue Snell (a young Amy Irving), one of the Tampax throwers from the beginning of the movie. Incidentally, the girl behind Tommy with the red hat is Norma, best friend of Chris Hargensen and just as bitchy. Remember all this.

Now, listen carefully. Here's the deal. All the guilty tampon throwers have received a week's detention and must report to the gym every day after school for serious calisthenics. However, Chris fancies herself too good for that and downright refuses to serve her detention, for which she is suspended for a week and denied her prom tickets. Oh horrors! Meanwhile, Sue (Tommy's girlfriend) realizes what they did to Carrie was super shitty and, revealing herself to have a pretty good heart underneath it all, decides to make it up to her by having Tommy take Carrie to the prom (which by default would make Carrie a nominee for Prom Queen, since she would essentially be taking Sue's place). When Chris gets wind of this, she doesn't like it one bit. No siree. See, the way Chris figures it, it's all Carrie's damn fault that she's locked out of the prom. It's because of Carrie that she got the detention that she didn't serve. It's because of Carrie that she's not going to get to put on her stupid prom dress and dance the night away with her boyfriend. So Chris, being a bitch and all, comes up with the ultimate revenge plan, which we'll get to in just a minute. First let's see what Carrie is up to.
Reading up on her psychic mind powers, that's what she's doing. And now that she knows she's got telekinesis, she decides "Hey! I can totally kick ass and take names with just my sheer mind-force. I don't care what Momma says, I'm going to the motherfucking prom, dammit!" Well, she doesn't SAY that, but it's totally implied that's what she's thinking. Meanwhile, Chris is working on her revenge plan guaranteed to humiliate Carrie in front of the entire school on prom night.
Chris, since all her friends are on the prom committee and are pretty much at her beck and call, is gonna make goddamn sure that Carrie gets crowned prom queen. But first she convinces her boyfriend Billy (above right...yes, that's a young John Travolta) to sneak into the local pig farm and slaughter a few of the pigs. See, the plan is this. They'll put all that pig blood into a bucket and rig it in the rafters right above the spot on stage where the prom queen will be standing. That way, once Carrie is standing there all that has to be done is to pull a rope to knock over the bucket, and there will stand Carrie with the proverbial egg on her face (or blood, as the case may be), once again the butt of the joke in front of everyone. It's at this point that Chris successfully crosses the line from evil bitch into downright diabolical bitch.

But finally, prom night arrives. While Chris and Billy are off putting their evil plan into action, Carrie is at home, trying her best to get ready while her mother stands in the corner and bitches about Carrie's dress.
This is where we get the best two exchanges of dialogue in the whole movie:

#1- Momma: Red. I might have known it would be red.
Carrie: It's pink, Momma.

#2- Momma: I can see your dirtypillows. Everyone will.
Carrie: Breasts, Momma. They're called breasts, and everyone has them.

You go, girl. That line is so absurdly ridiculous I could cry tears of joy at how delightfully cheesy it is.

So after a last ditch attempt by her mother to get her to stay home ("They're all gonna laugh at you!"), Carrie tells her to shut the fuck up and hightails it out the door to go to....THE PROM. *dun dun duuuuuuuuuun*
And boy, what a prom. Nothing says memories like foil stars and disco balls made out of crepe paper. Hard to believe that in about an hour this happy scene will transform into one of pure horror and panic. Incidentally, I know it's kind of hard to tell from this picture, but there's enough hideous examples of 70s promwear here to keep you entertained for hours. Hideous as they are though, at least they're better than the two or three strips of fabric girls usually wear to prom these days. Embrace the 70s, girls. You'll stay a lot warmer.

Anyway, Carrie seems to actually be enjoying herself for once. She doesn't yet know that Chris and Billy are under the stage with a well placed rope, waiting for the right moment to strike. She doesn't know that there's a big bucket of pig blood over the stage and that very soon she'll be the most humiliated she's ever been in her entire life. Right now she's just enjoying a nice dance with Tommy. Meanwhile Sue is making her way over to the prom to check how things are going and make sure Carrie is having a nice time. It's a good thing she isn't there yet though, because if she were she would have seen this:
And that would have just been really awkward for everybody.

But alas, tis time! Tis time to crown the prom king and queen! Yay! Are you ready? I am! And I know Chris sure is.

So, like we all know, Carrie and Tommy are announced as the winners. They make their way to the stage amidst thunderous applause and take their places on the Stage of Tinfoil Stars. It is the calm before the proverbial storm.
But Sue, from her spot near the back of the stage where she's watching, notices the rope connected to the bucket. She tries to tell one of the teachers and is kicked out of the gym for her trouble, just a second before The Moment. The moment this whole entire movie leads to. The moment immortalized on every single piece of memorabelia connected to this film. The moment the blood drops.
Absolute silence reigns in the gymnasium. All you can hear is the clatter of the bucket as it hits Tommy in the head and knocks him unconcious. And then that bitch Norma starts to laugh and point, like the bitch she is. We see things entirely from Carrie's point of view, and in her mind EVERYONE is laughing at her, not just Norma, and her mother's words ("They're all gonna laugh at you!") and the things that were chanted at her in the gym shower run in a continuous sound loop and then...Carrie snaps. Girl has reached her breaking point, and who can blame her? This is the culmination of years of abuse from her classmates from kindergarten until right this moment. This is the absolute last straw, and she isn't going to take it anymore. This time they've gone too far. So, she decides to put her telekinesis to good use and LET THE BITCHES HAVE IT!
Oh yeah. She is PISSED. These bitches are going DOWN! Chris, unfortunately, has already escaped, but she'll get hers later, don't you worry. Now the once happy prom has turned into a scene of absolute pandemonium. Furniture is flying everywhere, the doors are locked, things are on fire, the sprinkler system is on, and people are dying everywhere. Whatever Carrie can throw at people with her telekinesis, she does. And when she's finished, she calmly walks right past the destruction and dead bodies and strolls serenely out the gym doors and away from the blazing school. On her way home, Chris and Billy pass by her and try to run her over with their truck, but evidentally they didn't get the memo about her powers, because she totally causes the truck to flip over and crash, killing both of them.

So anyway, once Carrie arrives home, as if she hasn't had to deal with enough shit tonight to last her the rest of her life, she finds that Momma is waiting for her behind the bathroom door. With a big-ass kitchen knife the likes of which wouldn't be seen again until 2 years later in John Carpenter's Halloween.

Apparently, she has decided that Carrie is a filthy sinner who should never have been born, and tonight is the night she is to be disposed of. Carrie uses her powers one last time, to
Hey! Just like the Scary Jesus Statue! Symbolism rocks! And speaking of rocks, tons of them start raining down on the house for reasons unexplained in the film but which make much more sense after you've read the book or seen the remake starring Angela Bettis, which we'll have to do another time. Anyway, all you need to know is, rocks are crushing the house to smithereens and Carrie drags Momma's body into the closet with her. You remember, the closet with that fucking scary statue. And there she meets her untimely demise. Death by a combination of falling rocks and the gaping stab wound Momma gave her in the back a few minutes earlier. God, life really sucked for you, Carrie. I hope they at least gave you a decent headstone.

Well, we're almost done. But what would any review of Carrie be without a few screencaps of the very end dream sequence in which Sue dreams she's putting flowers on Carrie's grave......
...only to have Carrie's fucking bloody hand come up from the rubble and scare her shitless!
Roll credits, that's a wrap!

Now, I must say that this review doesn't even begin to do this movie justice. If you've never watched it before except in clips you really need to go out and rent it RIGHT NOW! It truly is a classic in the horror genre, or in any genre really. They're just not making movies like this anymore. I mean, they're TRYING. They're trying like mad. But they're failing miserably. So, go out, rent Carrie, and I guarantee you'll be adding it to your list of all time favorites very soon.