I don't think I've ever seen my sister go through as many emotions as she did during the 10-minute span of "Carrie"'s opening scene. Director Brian De Palma's 1976 horror film, based on Stephen King's novel, clearly hasn't lost its touch -- the dreamlike, voyeuristic locker room scene shots had her face twisted in confusion, and Carrie White's introduction a la naked steamy soaping up in the shower prompted her to ask me if we had accidentally rented a porn version of the film. But once the camera panned to the infamous blood shot, she was horrified -- and, as Carrie's schoolmates chastised her and showered her with tampons and maxi pads, my sister was almost in tears. "This is so sad!" she exclaimed. "I don't want to watch this!"
Luckily, she stuck with it. This month's Sibling Revivalry pick was in the spirit of director Kimberly Peirce's remake of the horror classic (hitting theaters on October 18 and starring Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role). The original gave my sister plenty of food for thought, from Sissy Spacek's breakout performance to the strange central subject of bodily functions to prom experience comparisons. Here's what she had to say about her first viewing of De Palma's "Carrie," 37 years after the film hit theaters.
This Movie is Nightmare Fuel
I was sent home with the promise that if my sister couldn't sleep, I'd be getting an angry phone call in the middle of the night. Why? "I just don't like the random things you know you'll think about," my sister said. "Like her mom being stabbed with random knives flung across the room. Or being locked in a closet or gym and not being able to get out, or the car blowing up, or the guy getting hit in the head with the bucket. You know when you're delusionally tired and you think really weird things are going to happen to you? This movie put a ton of bad stuff in my head. The whole thing was so strange and disturbing. It was definitely an effective first scene in that it made me feel horrible, and I was totally on Carrie's side."
Even By '70s Standards, King's Material is Shocking
Perhaps I'm somewhat desensitized to the film after multiple viewings, because it was surprising when my sister was so affected by the material. "Who would want to watch that?" she yelled, intermittently, during the beginning. In hindsight, she said, "I mean, it's a movie about a girl getting her period, essentially. I can't believe somebody wrote that! Like, there's more to it, but it essentially started and ended that way -- the reason they poured pig's blood on her is because they were mocking her for what happened when the bathroom scene went down in the first place. It's a central theme in this, and I get that it turns into something much bigger, but it's all predicated on a period, which, to me, is so strange. Why wouldn't you pick something else?"
That Score Sounds Familiar
My sister immediately recognized the four notes played during each of Carrie's telekinetic phenomena -- they're borrowed from the "Psycho" score. I also explained that the film's high school (Bates High) is named in homage to "Psycho"'s antagonist, Norman Bates. She very perceptively replied, "I think it's funny that those two movies have memorable shower scenes."
Miss Collins' Inadvertently Helpful Punishment
Gym teacher Miss Collins may've been the moral center of the film, and Carrie's savior in many ways, but -- according to my sister -- her idea of punishment is anything but. When Miss Collins slapped the locker room crowd with detention in the form of 50-minute boot camp-style workouts, my sister exclaimed, "She's only doing them a favor because she's getting them in shape for the prom!" As I laughed hysterically, she continued, "It's so true -- I suppose they saw it as a punishment, but I can't believe they weren't thanking her. We grown-ups pay good money for that kind of personal training! What the punishment should've been is that they should've had to sit for the 50 minutes and eat chocolate bars the entire time."
Carrie's First Prom Was, "Like Being on Mars." My Sister's? Not So Much.
In the spirit of the "first prom" story Miss Collins shared with Carrie, I asked my sister to give me the skinny on her premiere prom outing. She groaned, "It's like, 'Oh my God, I'm really uncomfortable, my spanx are cutting off my circulation, my feet really hurt, I can't walk in my shoes, my hair is too tight, the food isn't good, I don't even like my date -- he's dancing with someone else, everyone's doing the electric slide, I feel awkward, this really sucks!' It's like all the worst things that can happen, and you thought so much about it and then you're miserable! That was my first prom -- extreme disappointment. The only difference is that I wasn't so angry that my date was dancing with somebody else that I decided to telepathically burn the paper stars and banners down!"
About That Remake...
My sister didn't even realize there was a "Carrie" remake coming out, as exhibited by the fact that she yelled, "They'd never get away with this these days!" during Carrie's bloody prom rampage. So what are her requests and predictions for Kimberly Pierce's version? "It'll be really interesting to see how Miss Collins changes -- you obviously can't slap a student in the face nowadays," she said. "But if you take a look at Columbine and a number of instances since then, there's a lot of outcasts. I feel like this new film needs to change the dialogue on that, introduce the whole idea that outcasts should be embraced and not chastised. And the prom massacre? Obviously it's a fantastical plot line to have someone stare at a hose and have it telepathically move, but the locking the doors and the starting fires? That reasonably could happen in real life, and I don't see how that won't rub people the wrong way. I wonder if they'll tweak that somehow."