Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Carrie (1976)

This is the mother of all teen horror. It's not the teen horror where scantily clad hotties parade as high school kids as they shrill and prance in circles. Its a reflection of a teen's horror. It's the kind of teen horror that tightly squeezes your deepest insecurities until your gasping. WIth the guise of comedy and calm, It seeps subtle and slyly while taking a hold of your fears and ripping them open.

Whenever I watch "Carrie" I just flash back to every negative emotion I had in high school. Waves of self-esteem issues, self-loathing, fear, anxiety, the need for attention, and so many others just hit me until I'm feeling as miserable as Carrie.

I've been thinking about horror movies lately and what makes me so terrified of them yet I still watch them. Then I realized that most of these modern horror films are easy to escape from.
Blood and guts can make me wiggle uncomfortably until I safely retreat behind my closed eyelids. Sudden jump scenes will make me shoot out of my chair until I snuggle into the safety of my boyfriends arms. Repetitive eerie music will freeze me until I can stop my ears with my hands.

Classic horror from before the nineties were something all together. It wasn't sugar coated or packaged. It was raw emotion amplified. Carnal desires that had no boundaries. Nightmares that wouldn't stay locked in the mind. I usually find movies, not just horror, from the seventies to be an age where boundaries were nonexistent and filmmakers were free to explore anything. From sex to horror, movies were gritty and unbound making it feel pretty chaotic and out of control. So having such a movie like "Carrie" to come of that time period is a huge feat in itself.

There is no place for me to hide when I watch "Carrie". I've never read the Stephen King novel and I have no interest. Something about horror novels gives words such power that they taint the beautiful and safe world in my imagination. Naive but there's already too much horror in reality.

What freaking makes Carrie so freakin scary? My simple answer: Contained rage and it's outcome.

In further scattered thoughts, I also realized that "Carrie" embodies every suppressed thoughts from your high school fears: painfully shy, ignorant, and being a door mat. These are the kind of fears that sits deep within the folds of your soul. It's pretty much there for the rest of your life. Each phase in your life will invoke these fears and only through experince can impose self-control.

Carrie is young girl in high school. She is bullied by the girls in school as they yell and throw tampons.Her mother is a religious extremist that doesn't think twice about whacking Carrie with a bible to get her warped thoughts across. Carrie endures abuse after abuse until she eventually cracks. She begins to harness telekinetic abilities which slowly begins to raise her confidence. Until it all comes crashing down on Prom Night.

I honestly can't remember if there were any previous teen movies that featured Prom Night as the scene for the climax for horror. Prom is already terrifying for teens as it is. It's full of angst, shallowness, and nerves. Now add a horrible prank gone wrong that turns into a massacre is just plain nuts.

Something about how Sissy Spacek plays Carrie during the prom scene that is just bone chilling. She stands with a straight back, her arms stiffly held to her side as she wrecks the deaths around her. Her eyes are unfocused and unblinking as she walks slowly through the mayhem. People are falling over another, there's blood, fire, screams, and lots of red everywhere. And Carrie just keeps on walking.

Other scenes in the movie are just disturbing and sad. That's pretty much the whole gist of the movie. I feel so horrible that I can't help or defend Carrie as she's bullied. The massacre is horrifying in it's gruesomeness but the movie doesn't terrify me. Instead of being shocked in the horror, I feel immensely vindicated and I'm cheering her on. Except for the killing of the sympathetic teacher, I just watch as they all die.

The mother scene leaves me feeling horrified and satisfied. The use of the knives is precise (symbolism!) and scares me. I just hate seeing knives slice through flesh in the movies. Geez, I'm shuddering right now. Even as the knives pierce the palms, I still can't help but think, "serves you right".

I think the majority of the audience agrees with my reactions. It is a classic horror movie but it's a story that has a reason. And it's a reason that anyone can ultimately relate to. Most horror movies just plaster some flimsy reason to have the killer just go on a rampage.

"Carrie" is a wonderful and simple masterpiece in it's use of horror and portrayal of emotions. That sounds really general but it has layer upon layers of meaning and it really depends on the viewer. It's just that kind of movie that you have to watch. In the daytime and cuddling with your honey.

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