Tuesday, October 29, 2013
*Just FYI, this will be long since it is a comparison of two movies. So go pee now, grab a snack and enjoy!*
In 1974, a relatively new author burst onto the scene with a book about a teenage girl with telekinetic powers. The girl, Carrie White, uses those powers against everyone at her school during the prom after a malicious prank. The young author started on the manuscript, which was meant to be a short story, but later threw it in the trash before finishing it. His wife, Tabitha, retrieved it out of the garbage and told him to finish the story. That book would simply be titled Carrie and that writer is of course, the incomparable Stephen King. The book was not exactly a runaway success at first but with what he earned from selling the paperback rights, he was able to quit his teaching job and write full-time.
In 1976, a film adaptation of the book was released in theaters. It was directed by Brian DePalma (Scarface, Carlito's Way, The Black Dahlia) and drew immediate critical praise. Produced for $1.8 million dollars, it would go on to gross $33.8 million dollars and be one of the most acclaimed movies of 1976, even earning 2 Academy Award nominations for it's two lead actresses: Sissy Spacek for Best Actress (Carrie White) and Piper Laurie for Best Supporting Actress as her mother, Margaret White. That is still to this day, unheard of for a horror movie. Roger Ebert called it "an absolutely spellbinding horror movie."
Watching the movie, even 37 years later, it of course oozes the 1970's but still just remains an iconic thrill ride today. Sissy Spacek, who was a bit of an unknown at the time, was 27 and actually married to the production designer on the movie and it was her husband who asked DePalma if she could audition. I find her performance remains one of the best in cinema history. Spacek had the face of an angel, looking as if she just came off a Wisconsin dairy farm. If I were in the room when meeting her for the first time, I probably would have never thought she could pull that off. She had the perfect amount of wide-eyed innocence needed at the beginning and then sheer uninhibited bitch mode revenge for the infamous prom scene. She never even blinked. Piper Laurie was much more established having been in the business over 25 years at the time. Her performance as Carrie's overbearing, sadistic mother Margaret is a tour-de-force of how beautifully evil a true cinematic villain can be. The supporting cast, like Spacek, were all playing high schoolers even though they were all in their mid to late twenties. Sometimes it's easy to forget until you watch it again that a very young John Travolta is making one of his first major movie appearances. It was also Betty Buckley's (the gym teacher Miss Collins) first role.
There was a sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2 and a television film remake but we will just put those on the back burners where they belong.
Now, it is 2013 and a new adaptation of Carrie has hit theaters. Two phenomenal actresses were cast in the lead roles: Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass and the awesome Let Me In) and 4-time Academy Award nominee and one of my favorites, Julianne Moore. Okay, let me get it out of the way right now, overall, this was not better than the original. It is an excellent film nonetheless. Many people, including King himself as I have read, asked why make this movie. Well, why do any remake then? From what I have read, this was supposed to be more true to the book. But, there is still some comparing and contrasting to do so lets get to it. First, the supporting cast, much better in the original. I know, I know, we are in a different time now and the people are different but these kids were just a little too Beverly Hills 90210 for my taste. They just couldn't pull off the pure nastiness of the kids from the original. The originals (1976) were nasty, mean, and fun to watch. The characters in today's version were just annoying and I wanted to slap them silly. They tried their best but just weren't believable. I do like Judy Greer as the gym teacher though. Next, the prom scene. This scene set a precedent in 1976, and to this day, remains one of the bloodiest battles in movie history. However, I did enjoy the hell out of the prom scene in the new version. Of course, this time around, there was more money involved and more special effects. It kept much of the integrity of the original movie's but I think, it was perfectly updated for 2013. Now, Julianne Moore as Margaret White. Moore is an awesome actress, one of the finest these days and did a fine job as Margaret White but she did not out-evil the original. Of course, I am not saying at all that that was what she was setting out to do. She portrayed her Margaret White exactly as she should be portrayed in 2013. This version was a much more broken, exhausted woman than the original evil witch.
Then, there is our star, Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie White. Lets get one thing straight, Sissy Spacek is Carrie, always is and always will be. First, I found it audacious but awesome that they cast someone who actually is 16 years old to play the legendary character. Moretz was mesmerizing, definitely drawing from Spacek's schoolgirl innocence, but when it was time (and it came about sooner this time around) she was chilling to the core. I do not like to give details away but during her rampage, you can actually hear her breathing and there was actually a raspy wheezing sound in it, almost like growling. It's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it. She may not have out-shined the original, but still Moretz most definitely glowed on her own.
There were aspects that matched the original, some of the exact dialogue spoken, some of the same actions mimicked here and there. However, the Carrie of 1976 is still and will always be the gold standard because it is the original. I do recommend watching it though because Moretz and Moore do give chilling performances but there will be one big disappointment (you'll know it when you see it). But one lesson still remains the same: do not piss off a telekinetic prom queen!
Thank you and see you at the next blog.