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I’ll admit it right here and now, Carrie was not my first Stephen King novel. There, I’ve said it. You can’t believe how much that revelation has been weighing on my soul ever since I was labeled one of Stephen King’s biggest and longest running fans. I did not get in on the ground floor. The first Stephen King novel that I ever read was Salem’s Lot, a wonderful modern day (for the 1970’s) vampire novel. It is still one of my favorites of his. Do I think it’s his best work? No, I’d give that honour to the unexpurgated version of his apocalyptic tale The Stand, but when it comes to your first logic rarely, if ever plays a part.
No, Carrie was the second Stephen King novel that I read. While the author himself often points out his first novels shortcomings, I have always loved the book. True, this could have more to do with the afterglow of having read Salem’s Lot but, in the end, it’s all good. For those of you who have never read the book (1974), nor seen the movie (1976), stage adaptation (1988) or tv adaptation (2002) here is a Cliff Notes version of the tale:
A young girl named Carrie White discovers that puberty signals more than just her “monthly visitor“; it also heralds the emergence of her telekinetic powers. Confused and afraid she turns to her friends, except she really doesn’t have any friends. Feeling sorry for her the prom queen in waiting befriends her and all seems to be going well for our heroine. Until Prom night at the very least. Which isn’t even taking into account her rabidly evangelistic mother and all the shit she puts young Carrie through.
The 1976 movie, while not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, still managed to distill everything good about the novel into 98 minutes on the silver screen. I can’t speak for you, but there are certain vivid moments in my life that I will take with me to my grave. It starred a painfully young Sissy Spacek as the titular heroine and a painfully young John Travolta as the rebellious boyfriend of the movies painfully obvious villain, Chris Hargensen played by a painfully young Nancy Allen… well, you get the point. A nowhere near painfully young Piper Laurie played Carrie White’s evil mother. The vivid moment in this film came after… hang on. You’ve all seen the movie, haven’t you? If you have, great, continue reading. If you haven’t then a major spoiler follows so you should probably skip down to the heading “End of Spoiler Alert” a couple of paragraphs below.
Are they gone yet? Good, then I can continue.
You know after Carrie has wreaked her terrible vengeance on her high school prom, killed off painfully obvious villains Chris and her boyfriend Billy in that cool car flipping scene, offed her evil mother by crucifying her with knives and forks using her telekinetic powers after her mother has stabbed her in the back. Then in her despair, Carrie causes her house to collapse on top of her and her dead mother and burn to the ground.
As they always like to say in the movies “sometime later”, Sue Snell (played by a painfully young… oh, never mind), one of the few characters sympathetic to Carrie’s plight, and the soul survivor of the Prom has a dream. She is walking with a bouquet of flowers, towards the remnants of the White’s homestead. A white cross with For Sale scratched out and Carrie White Burns in Hell written over it in black lettering. Sue approaches her friends grave reverently, kneels and places the bouquet of flowers at the base of the cross. Nice pastoral music wafts around the theatre. Just as the audience was about to lapse into a sugar induced coma a bloody arm shot up from the debris and grabbed Sue’s arm.
Sue wakes up, screaming, in her mothers arms.
How fucking cool is that.
Right after watching the movie at the Oshawa Centre cinema Bill, my best friend at the time, and I walked over to the Bo Peep restaurant for a couple of underage brewskies. Yeah, no word of a lie. The restaurant was actually called the Bo Peep. Our waitress brought our Labbat 50’s to our table and inquired as to what brought us out on this wonderful evening. Bill and I told her the movie we had just seen and her face went white. Intrigued we asked if she had seen the movie.
“Yeah,” she started hesitantly, “my girlfriend and I saw it last Friday night.”
After a moment or two’s silence the question just begged to be asked.
“Did you enjoy it?”
“Yes,” she stated robotically, “yes we did.”
“But…” asked Bill.
“Well,” she started hesitantly, “after we saw the movie we headed back to my girlfriends place.”
After another moment or two I goosed her along.
“Well, she sent the baby sitter home. You see, she had a nine month old and this had been one of the first times she had ventured out since their birth. She had told me in advance that this wasn’t going to be a long drawn out affair. We would go to the movies and then go straight back to her place.”
Bill and I cast each other a glance.
“Yeah, cool,” she acquiesced, “at least until the point where she excused herself to go check on her newborn.”
Why this should have been a problem was lost on Bill and I, young as we were. Parents checked on their offspring, didn’t they?
Sensing our hesitation she continued.
“Yeah, well, I went into the babies room and saw absolutely no sign of my girlfriend. Nothing down the hall, nothing in the spare room, nothing in the babies room… Nothing.”
Alright, this sounded intriguing. Bill and I leaned in.
“I leaned over the crib and noticed the babies blanket was pulled way down on her tiny legs. So, I did what any carrying person would do. I reached in and started to pull the blanket up to cover her up.”
“Started?” I inquired.
“Yes,” she all but shrieked, “started.”
“So, what happened?”
She regarded us sternly, looking for goodness only knows what in our eyes. When she realized we were honestly and truly curious and not just taking the piss out of her she continued.
“A hand shot up from underneath the bed and grabbed my arm,” she replied in a voice almost to soft to hear.
Well fuck us, that explained a lot of where this conversation had been coming form. You see, her girlfriend had hidden herself away under the crib, knowing full well that her girlfriend would eventually come looking for her.
End of Spoiler Alert
Nuff said about that. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you really REALLY need to watch this movie.
I never saw the stage show; never watched the short lived TV series. So, what do I know, right? Well, I know what I like. I like the book; I like the 1976 flick. When I first heard they were going to remake Carrie my first thought was “why?” Why mess with a great, albeit flawed movie? Why try to do Stephen King when so many of Stephen King’s books have turned out so brutally poor when transitioned to the silver screen. Don’t believe me? How about Apt Pupil, Cat’s Eye, Children of the Corn, The Dark Half, Dreamcatcher, Firestarter, Graveyard Shift, The Mangler, Hearts in Atlantis (although Sir Anthony Hopkins rocked), The Mangler, Maximum Overdrive, Mercy… need I go on? O.K., fine, I will… The Night Flyer, Pet Sematary, The Running Man (a guilty pleasure of mine), Secret Window, Silver Bullet, Sleepwalker… the list is to depressing to even contemplate.
Redo any of those and I would be behind you 100%. The movie adaptions of King’s works that actually worked, in my eyes anyway, are as follows; The Dead Zone, The Green Mile, Misery, The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shinning and Stand By Me. And Carrie. How could I ever forget Carrie. The book could never hope to stand up to all the books that would come after it, yet it was my favorite author’s first published book. Diss it at your peril. My jury is still out on the 2013 version of Carrie, but I am more than willing to be impressed. So, go ahead and impress me! Here then are a couple of advanced promo clips for the new remake.
2013 Carrie trailer number 1
2013 Carrie trailer number 2
I would be grotesquely remiss if I didn’t share this staged viral advert for the 2013 remake of Carrie. If you take nothing but this from my post then you most definitely owe it to yourself to watch this clip.