Carrie (1976)


I Can See Your Dirty Pillows.

The impetus for today’s movie was almost entirely based on Netflix.  I knew I was looking for another classic horror movie and I came across this movie while looking through the horror movies in the instant section.  I knew I needed to review this movie in my Horrorthon.  Then I reached a problem: I was not looking at the right movie.  I was apparently looking at the 2002 made for TV version of the movie I was thinking of.  And the movie I was thinking of was not one that could be streamed.  But I already had my mind set to review it.  It took some doing, but I finally found the movie Carrie, based on a novel by Stephen King, written for the screen by Lawrence D. Cohen, directed by Brian De Palma, and starring Sissy Spacek, Nancy Allen, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Betty Buckley, and PJ Soles.

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy weirdo that gets abused by her schoolmates for not understanding what’s happening when she gets her first period in the shower.  To top that off, her mother (Piper Laurie) abuses her as well because she thinks Jesus gave her a period as punishments for her sins or some such nonsense.  But Carrie starts to realize that she’s not just an ordinary creepy girl.  She starts to realize that she can do things with her mind, a phenomenon she finds is called “telekinesis.”  But, more important than that (if you’re a high school girl), is that Tommy Ross (William Katt) asked her to the prom!  Sure, he asked her at the behest of his girlfriend, Sue Snell (Amy Irving), because they felt sorry for Carrie.  But Carrie still has a problem: Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen).  Chris is the head of the bully girls that pick on Carrie, and she resents Carrie because picking on her got her punished and banned from the prom.  And that’s just good logic right there.  Chris devises a plan with her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) to make Carrie pay for the punishment that she brought on herself.

I was pretty surprised to find that I didn’t care for this movie at all.  It’s so well-regarded, but I was not into it at all.  It was mainly the story that turned me off too.  This wasn’t a horror movie; it was whiny high school drama with a ham-fisted telekinesis subplot.  I was equal parts bored and irritated.  The high school type stuff I just found really boring because we’ve all seen that stuff before, and done much better.  And it didn’t seem realistic too, but it’s hard for me to tell.  I haven’t been a girl in high school in many years, but I don’t think girls would just mock a girl for getting her period.  You bitches all do it too!  And that’s why you’re gross.  I’m also sure there are girls in high school so devoid of logic that they would blame Carrie for their troubles like Chris did, even though she clearly brought it all on herself.  And then there’s the trouble at home that comes with her way over the top crazy mom who takes a natural (albeit icky) thing like menstruation and takes it as a sign from God that Carrie is a sinner.  Those people I just like to believe don’t exist.  And how the fuck do her religious beliefs work anyway?  Getting your period is evil, but trying to murder your child later in the movie is alright in God’s book?  And the way they introduced Carrie’s powers was ham-fisted and irritating.  Each time something happened because of them was displayed with a short, sharp noise that felt like I was being stabbed in the ear with the fact that Stephen King just found out what telekinesis was and decided to base a book on that.  And the way she used them was pretty shitty too.  Sure, the prom scene is super memorable and kind of nifty, but I was mainly struck by the fact that she didn’t seem to punish any of the people that deserved it.  People that had tried to help her died and the people that started everything escaped through the front door.  Granted, some of them got what was coming to them later, but it was just shitty.  I also thought a lot of the dialogue was pretty bad.  Someone actually says, “Get ‘er done,” in this movie!  It made me lose all the respect I had for Larry the Cable guy.  The worst dialogue in my opinion is any conversation between Nancy Allen and John Travolta.  That was abysmal.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this Brian De Palma fella, but I would still have to confess that I was unimpressed with the look of this movie.  I know I’m not a director or anything, but I got to thinking that some of the shots were just rudimentary and distracting.  I first started thinking this when they were in class and Carrie says Tommy’s poem was “beautiful.”  It was a close up on his face with her in the background.  Then there was also a scene where they seemed to try to do a split focus on it – the likes of which were talked about in great length in Citizen Kane for some reason – but this movie did it poorly.  You could see a giant, blurry seam down the center of the frame!  If I had to say one good thing about the direction of this movie it would have to be that the opening credits were chock full of titties.

I suppose I would be comfortable giving credit to some of the performances in this movie.  Sissy Spacek did a formidable job being mostly quiet and reserved, but occasionally manic and at least one occasion scary.  Also, she got her boobs out.  …I think I’d bang it out on Sissy Spacek in this movie.  I’m not gonna lie to you people.  I didn’t really find that many other people in this movie altogether noteworthy.  Some of them did fine jobs, some were underwhelming.  I did get annoyed at the principal in the movie though.  I understand not remembering someone’s name.  I do it all the time.  But if someone corrects me once, I would either remember or not attempt their name again.  This dude seems to go out of his way to get her name wrong, even when it was an awkward placement to even say her name.  I know what they were trying to do, but it was another location where it seemed a little ham-fisted, as if the movie was just trying too hard.

I may be alone in this, but I didn’t like Carrie.  The story took turns being either boring or annoying and it seemed to me to be poorly directed, even though it was Brian De Palma.  I’m too lazy to look it up, but I am under the impression that he’s a good director.  I didn’t see that here.  I’m disappointed in both Stephen King and Brian De Palma for this movie, but I am good with what Sissy Spacek brought to the table.  It may have been amazing when it came out somehow, but I’m not down with it today.  It’s probably a movie you should watch because it’s a classic, but it’s my opinion that you can skip it.  Carrie gets “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” out of “I hate Carrie White.”

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Twin Peaks: Season 1 (1990)


Who’s The Lady With the Log?

I feel like I’ve heard so much more about this television show than I ever knew.  Hell, even after watching the first season, I can’t say I really understand it too much.  I know I had heard the name a long time ago, but never really felt the need to research it.  I had heard about the show again when I played the game Alan Wake, as many things I read about Alan Wake drew comparisons between the game and this show.  Finally, when Kevin Smith was recalling parts of the show on his podcast, I decided it was time for me to watch it.  This show is part drama, part comedy, part thriller, but pretty much all surreal.  Let’s see how well a very confused person reviews the TV show Twin Peaks, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and starring Sheryl Lee, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Eric Da Re, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, James Marshall, Dana Ashbrook, Madchen Amick, Richard Beymer, Michael Horse, Ray Wise, Grace Zabriskie, Russ Tamblyn, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, Jack Nance, Warren Frost, Peggy Lipton, Kimmy Robertson, Harry Goaz, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, David Patrick Kelly, Walter Olkewicz, Victoria Catlin, Don S. Davis, Charlotte Stewart, Mary Jo Deschanel, Chris Mulkey, Catherine E. Coulson, and Miguel Ferrer.

The base story of the entire first season gets kicked off right in the pilot.  Pete Martell (Jack Nance) discovers the naked corpse of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) by a river.  Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) and Dr. Will Hayward (Warren Frost).  Her death becomes big news around the tiny town of Twin Peaks, especially at the high school she once attended.  FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) comes down to aid in the investigation.  Over the course of the first season, they unravel hidden motivations involving sex, drugs, but a distinctive lack of rock and/or roll.  Laura’s parents, Leland (Ray Wise) and Sarah (Grace Zabriskie), suffer nervous breakdowns, but they take turns being crazy.  There’s a small group of people in the town, but they’re practically all cheating on each other.  A guy named Leo (Eric Da Re) is dealing drugs and beating his wife, Shelly (Madchen Amick).  Some of Laura’s friends, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and James (James Marshall), start their own investigation into Laura’s death, eventually using Laura’s identical twin cousin, Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), to get at Laura’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn).  Cooper starts investigating leads based on a dream he has.  Also, this sexy 18-year-old falls in love with Cooper.  By the end, they narrowed in a bit on who killed Laura, but I was nowhere close to understanding anything.

I was almost as confused by the show as I was in my feelings about the show.  For a while, I was just put off by how weird it all was.  Let me give you some examples.  For one thing, there’s a lady that carries around a log that she claims has seen something that will help the police solve the murder, but they must ask the log for the information.  A dude sends his ex-wife a picture of a domino from in prison.  Someone assassinates a bird.  Suspects are decided based on how close to hitting milk bottles Agent Cooper can get with some rocks.  Cooper has an entire dream that’s really off-putting.  Everyone speaks weirdly because they all delivered their lines backwards and then had them played forward, a midget got up and started dancing, and Laura was saying something about her arms bending backwards.  It seemed that each episode took me one step closer to figuring it out, but then two big steps back in the same episode.  But, as time went on in the show, I started realizing that I was still really interested in it.  It was strange, but oddly engrossing.  It was confusing in the small scale, but I feel like I was beginning to understand the big picture.  They used some really cool and intriguing ideas too.  That dream, for instance.  It really did have a strange, otherworldly feel to it because of something as simple as recording their lines backwards and playing it forward.  You could kind of make out what they were saying, but it definitely wasn’t normal.  I did get vaguely annoyed at the end of the whole season because they just had to have the whole cliffhanger thing.  I get annoyed when shows do that at the end of their seasons because, typically, that would mean we’d have to wait a number of months to figure out what happened and, sometimes, we would never find out what happened because they show got cancelled before they could end it.  I was only able to get vaguely annoyed by this because I was streaming the first season on Netflix, where the second season was available as well.  This time the cliff is hung because I had a review to write.  I am so pro!

It’s kind of hard to judge some of the performances here, because pretty much everyone was acting so weird.  I was beginning to feel bad for Sheryl Lee because she, as Laura, was the driving force of the entire show, but she was dead before it began.  She got to pop in for some flashbacks for a minute or two, but it seemed like a bummer.  Then they threw her a bone and she got to come back … as her cousin that looks just like her with dark hair.  I don’t know.  I guess that could be a thing.  Kyle MacLachlan was good, and pretty close to normal until the dream started to make him weirder.  Also, he turned down naked Sherilyn Fenn, and it don’t get much weirder than that.  She was smokin’ hot.  I enjoyed the performance of Miguel Ferrer as the forensics expert that Cooper brought in, but mainly ’cause he was an ultra dick to everyone in the town for no reason.  Until Michael Ontkean punched him in the face.  There was something that was constantly off about Eric Da Re’s performance, but I could never tell if he did it on purpose or was just a strange actor.  Madchen Amick – who played his wife – was pretty hot though.  I also found Kimmy Robertson oddly cute.  Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie confused me.  They played Laura’s parents and, for obvious reasons, were a little distraught about the loss of their daughter.  What bothered me is that one of them would be having the nervous breakdown in one episode while the other was being strong, and then next time their roles would be reversed.  In or out, people.  It was also interesting to me that Lara Flynn Boyle was in this.  For one thing, she was very cute.  For another thing, she was in Men in Black 2.  But I never really understood her character either.  It seemed like she was trying, with James Marshall, to find out what happened to Laura, but I think they intended to cover it up for some reason.  I’m fairly convinced they weren’t the killers.  They seemed to be really good friends with Laura, pre-mortem.  Maybe the whole “three different semens and drugs” thing would’ve ruined her image or something.  Kobe seemed to get past it, though.

I’m really not sure what to tell you about this show.  It’s very interesting, but also very confusing.  I feel compelled to continue on to season 2, and possibly even to watch the movie that most people hated, but I’m also afraid that doing so will not only fail to clear anything up, but will only heap on more questions.  One thing’s for certain: Laura Palmer’s dead, and she isn’t coming back.  If you have Netflix streaming, and think you might be down with a confusing cult hit TV show, give it a look.  Hopefully season 2 will make more sense.  In the meantime, Twin Peaks: Season 1 gets “Fire walk with me” out of “She’s dead.  Wrapped in plastic.”

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