Monday, May 2, 2011

Carrie - No! They're All Gonna Laugh At You!

Years ago when I was still in high school, Adam Sandler was my idol. I can fondly remember sitting next to my CD player listening to his comedy albums, cracking up to the vicious sounds of The Beating of a High School Spanish Teacher or the catchy guitar riffs of Lunchlady Land. I also reminisce laughing to another skit called They're All Gonna Laugh At You (also the album title). However, little did I know this track was a reference to the classic Stephen King horror tale, Carrie.

Carrie is a high school misfit (play by Sissy Spacek) who is bullied by almost everyone in the student body. To make matters even worse, her mother (played by Piper Laurie) is an abusive religious extremist who forces Carrie to repent for any thought or action which may be considered "sinful." However, when Carrie discovers she has the powers of telekinisis, will she be able to contain her unique gift or will she unleash it upon those who hurt her?

The main reason I decided to watch Carrie was because Tarantino is a huge proponent of this film. Directed by Brian De Palma, you can easily spot his signature trademarks. This is particulary apparant during the prom sequence where Carrie is humiliated for being voted (or should I say rigged) as Prom Queen:
  • Camera Movement: I'm not really sure how to describe it, but the camera starts off by focusing on Carrie on the dance floor. Next, the camera pans above the stage where you see the bucket of pig blood tied to a rope sitting on the rafters. Finally, the camera follows the rope to underneath the stage where John Travolta and his girlfriend plan to make Carrie's life a miserable disaster. It is an effective technique which implants suspense upon the audience. This same technique is applied in De Palma's Scarface during the chainsaw scene.
  • Lights and Sounds: When Carrie is announced prom queen, she is lit up like an angel. However her brilliant radiance is shadowed when the bucket of blood spills all over her body. She immediately becomes a frightening devil with a background drowned with orange and red. To add even more effect to the visual contrast, De Palma makes the sound an awesome compliment. Before everything goes to hell, Carrie is walking on Cloud Nine with only sounds of cheering and music in the background. However, a drastic turn is experienced as only the sound of laughing can be heard as Carrie is covered in blood and humiliation.
  • Split Screen: In comic book style, De Palma uses a split screen to show Carrie wreaking havoc across the school gymnasium. As we watch Carrie's emotion as she is unleashing her power of telekinesis, we see her get her revenge as the students and staff are being murdered in the school gymnasium. Watch Jackie Brown as you will see Tarantino use this same effect between Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson.
Overall, this is a powerful horror movie. Yes, it is horrific because it teases you with naked school girls in the gym locker room followed by a menstruating Sissy Spacek. However, it is the performances that create the horror. Sissy Spacek effortlessly switches from a loser schoolgirl into a horrendous bulley of death. And Piper Laurie's presence is truly uncomfortable as you scoff at her ideals as a religious nut, yet you are genuinely terrified how she will interact with Carrie.

So on Death List Five, Carrie ranks #4.

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