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Saturday, December 3, 2011
Piper Laurie is gearing up for her appearance at tomorrow's "A Very Carrie Christmas" at Chicago's Music Box Theatre by doing interviews with Chicago media. A couple of very good interviews have popped up in the past week, including one by Hollywood Chicago's Matt Fagerholm, which includes this section about Laurie's work on Carrie:

HollywoodChicago.com: In the excellent DVD edition of “Carrie,” you mention how your interpretation of the script as satire initially helped you ease into the role of Margaret White. Was satire in your mind while onset?

Laurie: I just tried to get that out of my head. Once De Palma revealed that he didn’t want a satirical approach and said, “You’re going to get a laugh if you do that,” I realized that he didn’t want laughs, at least not in our conscious performing. I just fully embraced the reality of what I was playing. I must say that I enjoyed having the childlike freedom to play act and be the evil witch. It was very freeing and fun to do.

HollywoodChicago.com: Why did you decide to perform your climactic monologue without a rehearsal?

Laurie: It was a little scary for me to play it the way I thought it should be played. I could’ve done it a different way, but I just thought that the revelation of Margaret’s secret sexual experience should be as raw and real as possible. I didn’t want to wear myself out rehearsing that. While Brian didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, I did ask him if he’d mind if we didn’t rehearse it. So I just got into position, Mario Tosiz lit it and I played it. Brian was almost in tears when he came in and said, “Oh Piper, I’m so sorry, could you please do it one more time?” And I did, and it was just as full and operatic as the first time. I have no idea which take they used.

HollywoodChicago.com: Did the instincts you developed in “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One” serve as an asset during this scene?

Laurie: Yes, you remind me that if it hadn’t been for the live television experience, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do that last scene in “Carrie” the way that I did. I also did a John Guarez play workshop one summer and he kept rewriting speeches for us. There would be no time to rehearse and little time to memorize. Sometimes he would hand you something a few minutes before you went onstage. I had a monologue to do once that was so explicit and so raw and I had no rehearsal time. I just went out and did it. I think the audience gasped right in the middle of it. All those things helped.

HollywoodChicago.com: Do you feel the film has aged well? No remake has been able to erase it from moviegoers’ memories.

Laurie: I haven’t seen the remakes. I think, in a way, that “Carrie” is very sweet. It’s very gentle compared to the savage kind of violent movies that we have now. It’s become more accessible for more people. I know that when it first came out, many of the Academy members wouldn’t go to see a so-called horror movie. I don’t really think that it is a horror movie, and I never did. It’s a movie with surprises in it, and when they have to deal with violence, it’s very gentle in a way, such as the scene [where John Travolta retrieves] the pig’s blood. Today you’d show a shot of him killing a pig. I think Brian is an artist and he did many lovely things in that movie. It was visually exquisite. And I love the innocent humor, the life of the teenage kids and the sensuality of the young people. The opening scene of the girls in the shower was beautiful without being overt.

HollywoodChicago.com: After the success of “Carrie,” did you feel typecast?

Laurie: Yes, I really was offended. The movie I did right after that was a romantic one with Mel Gibson [1978’s “Tim”], but occasionally I would be given a part requiring that same sort of raw anger as if they thought that’s who I was. When I did an Agatha Christie movie [1988’s “Appointment With Death”], I played a bullying mother. That’s not who I am. That was a one-time thing that I did with great gusto and fun. It irritates me when people want me to do that again.

Laurie also talked with Windy City Times' Richard Knight, Jr., who will be co-conducting (with David Cerda) the Q&A with Laurie following Sunday's screening of Carrie. Here is the discussion about Carrie from the Windy City Times interview:

WCT: I'm fascinated to know that you read Carrie as a comedy and that was your approach when you began in rehearsal.

PL: I didn't really care for the script and I talked to my husband about it and he said, "Maybe you misread it—Brian De Palma has a comedic approach to most of the things he's done" so I re-read it and thought it was a comedy; a satire and I thought that had more possibilities in that approach. I hadn't made a movie in 15 years and he [De Palma] decided to hire me. So they flew me out to California for rehearsal and by then I'd thought up some bits that I thought would be funny; or pretty broad—like pulling myself around the room by my own hair in anguish.

So I grabbed my hair and did it a couple of times during the rehearsal in Brian's apartment and he stopped me and said, "Piper, you're going to get a laugh if you do that" and I thought to myself, "Isn't that the point?" I suddenly realized I had misunderstood and this was serious so I adjusted what I did but did it with a different motivation.

WCT: Well I think it's still funny—but horrifically funny which much of the film is—it's nasty funny.

PL: I think I'm pretty funny in the movie. [Laughs]

WCT: You're so over the top—it's one of those great performances where you can laugh and be terrified at the same time.

PL: When the movie first came out people did not laugh and then after they'd seen it a couple of times they felt free to laugh and I think it's funny. I do! [Laughs] You know what helped me? After I'd rehearsed and they flew me back to Woodstock for a month or so before we shot. I went into New York and I went to see his movie Phantom of the Paradise which had just opened and it was so operatic and that really freed me to be as big as I wanted to be.

WCT: That's very interesting because all the scenes between you and Sissy Spacek are like operatic duos—these arias between mother and daughter. You sort of gasp at how high you two climb—it veers on melodrama; it's so over the top and fun and great all at once.

PL: Thank you. We shot those early scenes over and over. You see I hadn't acted in front of a camera for 15 years and this was a very unusual experience for me—thinking of it as fun instead of a life or death struggle, which it had been always before. I just gave myself permission to just go for it and be as big as I wanted to be. I have no trouble doing take after take. I was always "full." I did ask that we do the last scene, the monologue, just once without rehearsal because I wanted to be as raw and exposed as I could be in that moment.

WCT: You write about your take on Margaret White's death scene—that she was happy because she was finally going to meet her maker—but I've always interpreted that as a long overdue orgasm—after years of being pent up. Do you give any credence to that, Piper?

PL: That's just where your mind is! [Laughs]

WCT: Okay, okay. [Laughs] But every time one of those knives stabs into you…

PL: What can I say? [Laughs]

WCT: Your work brought you an Oscar nomination and a lot of villainous roles—like the baddies you play in Appointment with Death, Twin Peaks, etc.

PL: You know, I'm not that person and the success of Carrie made people want to cast me that way. That was a one-time chance to play-act like children do—the mean person—and draw on all the things you wish you could do but that's not who I am in real life. I've never behaved like that and it upsets me a little bit that that's what they throw at me. I have had other opportunities like the thing I did with Sissy years later—The Grass Harp.

WCT: Which is criminally overlooked, I think. It's so unexpected to see you in that delicate, delightful part. It's a lyrical little movie, I think.

PL: And in real life I'm much closer to that lady and anybody who knows me will say that—maybe with a little laugh! I'm a person who loves nature and is vulnerable; the person who started out in life a little bit damaged and I'm very proud of the fact that I was able to move beyond that and reinvent my life. That was one of the many reasons I wrote my book.

WCT: Well, we will celebrate all aspects of your career when you're here with us on Dec. 4. Thank you on behalf of your movie fans in Chicago for creating so many indelible movie moments through the years.

PL: Thank you for that nice tribute. I can't wait to see everyone in Chicago.

Posted by Geoff at 10:02 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2011 10:07 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Broadway World has the full cast announcement from MCC Theater for the re-worked version of the stage musical, Carrie. Previously announced were Marin Mazzie (as Margaret White) and Molly Ranson in the title role. Joining them will be Christy Altomare, Carmen Cusack, Jeanna de Waal, Derek Klena, Ben Thompson, Wayne Wilcox, Corey Boardman, Blair Goldberg, F. Michael Haynie, Andy Mientus, Elly Noble, and Jen Sese. Performances will begin January 31, 2012, with the official opening night scheduled for March 1, 2012. The show is directed by Stafford Arima, with music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and a book by Lawrence D. Cohen, the latter of which wrote the screenplay for the Brian De Palma adaptation of Stephen King's novel.

Posted by Geoff at 11:04 PM CST
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Saturday, November 19, 2011
Piper Laurie will appear at Camp Midnight's "A Very 'Carrie' Christmas" event at Chicago's Music Box Theatre on Sunday, Decmber 4th. Laurie will participate in a Q&A following a screening of Brian De Palma's Carrie. But this will not be an average screening of Carrie. For starters, this is a show that was supposed to happen October 9, as a Halloween-themed event. For some reason, the show had been postponed, and now that it is happening in December, it has been changed, oddly, to be a Christmas-themed event. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Hell in a Handbag Productions, Inc., the theatre company that put on SCARRIE The Musical in 2005 (a revival of a show from 1998), an unauthorized spoof of the De Palma film and the 1988 Broadway musical version of Carrie that featured an all-male cast.

So that gives one an idea of what to expect when Camp Midnight presents its "Interactive Audience Screening (complete with screening guide) and hellacious, hilarious commentary from your Camp Midnight hosts Dick O’Day and Hell in a Handbag’s David Cerda." The pre-show will feature a Carrie character parade contest with prizes for the winners (so "get out your prom dresses, buckets of blood and Bibles!"), and a sing-along at the Music Box organ. Laurie's memoir, Learning To Live Out Loud, will also be on sale at the event. The event begins with the pre-show at 2pm. Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 the day of the show.

The Chicagoist's Eric Hehr asks, "Is Carrie really the right choice for a camp film event? Does an Oscar nominated film that has become a staple of its genre deserve to be reduced down to the status of a B-movie and exploited for cheap laughs by comedic commentary?" Hehr continues:

Granted, aspects of Carrie have not aged well (mainly Travolta’s hair), and the horror genre is exceedingly fickle to begin with. However, we’re not talking about Killer Clowns From Outer Space or Motel Hell here. We’re talking about one of the few horror films nominated for Academy Awards (Spacek and Laurie received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively). Carrie garnished an immense amount of positive reviews when it was released, grossing more than 18 times its budget ($33.8 million) and being hailed as one of the best films of 1976.

Chicago’s own Roger Ebert described the film as “an absolutely spellbinding horror film” and “an observant human portrait.” In 1978, Stephen Farber of the New West Magazine prophetically claimed that Carrie was “a horror classic, and years from now it will still be written and argued about, and it will still be scaring the daylights out of new generations of moviegoers." Director and self-proclaimed film geek, Quentin Tarantino, placed Carrie at #8 on his “Favorite Films Ever Made” list, and author Stephen King considers Carrie to be the best cinematic adaptations of all his novels. Carrie has also placed incredibly high on many other cinematic lists, including Empires Magazine "The 500 Greatest Movies of all Time" (#86), Entertainment Weekly’s "50 Best High School Movies" (#15), Bravo’s "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments" (#8), and the American Film Institutes "100 Greatest Cinema Thrills" (#46).

Hehr makes some great points, all of which I agree with, yet the idea of Laurie being present at such an event seems an appropriate irony. Laurie writes in her memoir that she originally connected to the Carrie screenplay by reading it as comedy. Viewing the film camped up with what Hehr calls "Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque commentary" should make for a very interesting Q&A with Laurie afterward.

Posted by Geoff at 7:55 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 20, 2011 9:01 AM CST
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Monday, November 7, 2011
Piper Laurie and Betty Buckley will be on hand to present Brian De Palma's Carrie this Friday, November 11, at the Lone Star International Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas. Buckley, a Fort Worth native, also appears in one of the festival's new films, Five Time Champion, which screens Thursday night (November 10).

If you buy a $20 ticket to the Carrie screening, you also get a copy of Laurie's new memoir, Learning To Live Out Loud, in which she includes a section about her work on Carrie. Laurie recalls reading the script and not being very impressed. But then her husband, Joe Morgenstern, mentioned that De Palma "often has a comedic approach to his work," and she read the script again from a satirical angle and became quite inspired. During a rehearsal period with De Palma and Sissy Spacek, however, Laurie went a little overboard when she began pulling her hair during the scene where she is trying to keep Carrie from going to the prom (the script had called for Laurie to tear her own clothes, but not wanting to shred the work of the costumers during rehearsal, she devised the hair-pulling stunt). De Palma stopped her, saying, "Piper, you can't do that. You'll get a laugh!" It was then that Laurie realized she had mis-guessed the tone of De Palma's film. She kept the hair-pulling, but toned it down by making the pain she was feeling more introspective and deep, and here one can get a sense of the creative energy that led to this uncanny Oscar-nominated performance. When she went back home to New York, she decided to see every De Palma film she could, "including Phantom Of The Paradise, which had just opened. Very operatic-- [De Palma] liked that," Laurie writes. "I needed not be afraid to be big."

Earlier in the chapter, Laurie writes of her first meeting with the director. Laurie was nervous and, having not worked on a film in some 15 years, wanted to impress. She writes that De Palma "asked not one thing about me or what I thought of the script. Instead, he proceeded to tell me a great deal about himself and the work he had done, as if he were seeking a job from me and I were interviewing him. I realized he was trying to make me feel comfortable, and I was quite touched." Needless to say, as Laurie describes it, the two of them got along very smoothly on the set.

Elsewhere, Laurie, who had recently had back surgery, describes her initial fears of being jerked back onto the bed in Carrie's room via a harness. She had kept the surgery a secret, but now had to confide in De Palma, who instantly said they didn't have to do it that way and could use a body double. But Laurie decided to give it a try, and found that she could do it without any pain, even if she still finds the stunt difficult to watch now without clenching up. Laurie also describes filming her final speech in the film, and the bursts of laughter she would let out in between takes of her final death-by-cutlery scene.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:25 AM CST
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Friday, October 28, 2011
Luaine Lee has posted a Halloween "conversation with some of our greatest 'horrormeisters'", for which she interviewed Brian De Palma, Stephen King, Ryan Murphy, William Friedkin, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter. De Palma briefly discussed misperceived allusions to Hitchock in his work, contrasting them with actual allusions to Hitchcock in his films. He also addressed the old question about placing women in danger on screen:

For years DePalma has made thrillers like "Obsession," "Blow Out" and "Body Double." Often skewered by the critics for his Hitchcockian moments, he says, "I can only be who I am. I cannot change the perception of the reviewer. When Carrie gets into the bathtub and (they say) this is a scene from 'Psycho,' I can't help them. All the allusions they've made about Hitchcock in my movies, please. There are some very direct ones obviously."

A car sinks slowly in the murky waters of the swamp in "Raising Cain," that's a takeoff of "Psycho," explains De Palma. "That's very clear. But Carrie getting into the bathtub is not."

De Palma has also been blasted for constantly placing women in danger. "I've been asked that question for many years and my stock answer is that when you make a thriller I think it's more interesting to me to photograph women rather than men. But nobody ever accepted that. That's one of those things like smoking - it went out (of fashion).

"You can't do that anymore. Forget about it. Basically you cannot put women in jeopardy anymore. But I think it's more interesting to put a woman in jeopardy or certainly a child."

A few days ago, I posted about Murphy's American Horror Story on FX. I mentioned the participation of Jennifer Salt, but I forgot to mention that the series features Lily Rabe, daughter of David Rabe and the late Jill Clayburgh, in a key role. In the "horrormeisters" article, Murphy discusses how his show, which he crated with Brad Falchuk, taps into the current economic zeitgeist:

Murphy says their creepy creation reflects the nation's rickety economy and the apprehension that people are feeling. "I mean, even in the past week economically how difficult that is for so many people. And it makes you feel paranoid and suspenseful and worried. And I think that zeitgeist is definitely reflected in the show. I mean, in the show, it talks about all kinds of American horror stories that we are sort of being bombarded with on a day-to-day basis. So I do think that it's a show that's definitely of its time."

Posted by Geoff at 11:56 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 11:57 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The A. V. Club's Keith Phipps called upon Edgar Wright to provide this year's 24-hour horror film marathon. The site encourages readers to rent the movies and watch the marathon at home. Wright's fest would begin at 6pm with David Cronenberg's The Brood, and by 1am, viewers would be watching Brian De Palma's Carrie. Wright explains to the A. V. Club the idea for his fest:

I had this crazy idea, which mostly works, and then there’s one film that completely doesn’t work, and I sort of just lobbed it in. I was trying to think, “Wouldn’t it be good to do a 24-hour marathon that was based on the seven ages of man?” [Laughs.] So I thought “That’s pretty much 15 films in 24 hours, that leaves about two per age, and then you’ve a bonus round at the end.” That’s my idea. So the seven ages of man, as laid out by Shakespeare in As You Like It: the infant, the whining schoolboy, the lover (or teenager), the soldier (and I’m going to interpret that as soldier/young professional), the justice (or the man/adult), the age shifts (becoming old), and the end of this strange eventful history (death). And then I’m going to add eternal life as the bonus at the end.

So in Wright's fest, Carrie falls into the age of the lover:

AVC: Are we on to a new stage of man?

EW: We are. We’re now in the lovers stage, and my favorite horror movie of all time: Brian De Palma’s 1976 film Carrie. The reason I love Carrie so dearly is because I feel like it’s a horror film that absolutely anybody can watch and enjoy. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word, but I think everybody can relate to it. You sympathize with the main character so much, which is unusual for horror, which frequently has no characters to truly care about. Another great thing about Carrie is that it almost plays like horror’s Grease, in that everybody can watch Carrie and say, “Oh, I was that person,” or “I was that person.” You were either the bullied, the bullier, the person who stood by and did nothing, or the person who tried to help. It’s an amazing movie. I only recently read the book, and it gave me more appreciation for the adaptation by Lawrence Cohen, because in the book, they have a lot more of the city-wide rampage. Basically, the second half of the book is Carrie blowing the town to smithereens. But because of budget, the film wisely climaxes at the prom. My favorite moment in Carrie is the lead-up to the bucket of blood falling, where it totally becomes opera.

Brian De Palma is at his best when he becomes almost like a silent filmmaker, where the plot mechanics are all in action, and it can just play out like a horrible dance of death. And the section setting up the geography of the prom, and where the bucket of blood is, and where the rope is, and who’s holding it, and P.J. Soles swapping the ballots, and Tommy Ross and Carrie White walking up to the stage is glorious. All set to that Pino Donaggio cue called “Bucket Of Blood.” I love it. It’s just amazing. One of my favorite sequences in cinema. So brilliantly conceived and edited. The score is perfect. I love this movie. If I had made something like Carrie, I’d probably retire. It’s just absolute pop perfection.

AVC: The only scene that ever sticks out to me as not working 100 percent is—

EW: Is where it’s sped up when they’re trying on tuxedos? When I look at that now, he’d obviously done stuff like that before in Greetings, the New Wave one. It almost looks like there was a line he didn’t like, and he just sped through it. I totally agree, it stands out from the rest of the movie. And it’s really short, but I’m thinking—and maybe someone can confirm this—that whatever the line is that gets sped through, Brian De Palma said, “All right, I like the start of this shot, and I like the end of it, but I fucking hate this bit in the middle. Let’s just speed it up.”

[A La Mod Editor's note: I've always thought this entire sequence from the start was intended to be sped up as a stylistic choice by De Palma.] Even the slight imperfections in Carrie are things about it that make me love it even more. This isn’t necessarily an imperfection, but I do love, not to give away the ending, the final scene, where Amy Irving is walking along the street to visit the grave, and when it cuts to the headstone, it goes from a sunny day to pitch-black night. And then the soundstage that she’s on is full black behind her. Normally, you would see that as a continuity error, but even that just totally works with the fucked-up dream-logic of the film.

I think there was something, just before they started making Carrie, there was a writers’ strike, and it gave Brian De Palma a full three months to just storyboard the movie. I think it shows, it’s just so perfectly paced. It’s like a Swiss watch, everything totally works. It’s my favorite film of his. I like a lot of his other films, but I think Carrie is the best Stephen King adaptation, favorite horror movie of mine, love it. It’s the perfect date movie as well.

AVC: In what way?

EW: I don’t want to sound sexist. I was going to say it is the horror film that most girls would enjoy, but I think that’s true. The great thing about the movie is that a lot of horror films are about a monster trying to destroy everybody. Here, you have a very sympathetic human being who really doesn’t want to hurt anybody. And although you want to see her reap revenge, you don’t want it to end as badly as it does. It’s my Titanic, in a way, in that every time I watch it, I want Tommy Ross and Carrie White just to have a nice night. I don’t want anything bad to happen. [Laughs.] Every time I watch it, I naïvely think, “Oh, maybe it’ll be okay this time.” You don’t think about those things if you don’t care about the characters. So as much as I enjoy the Grand Guignol climax, it’s a tragic end for her, and she’s an incredibly sweet character, you’re with her all the way. It’s unusual to be on the side of the character who has a destructive power in horror movies. In Carrie, there’s a person who has the ability to kill everybody in town, you’re completely on her side, and yet you don’t want her to exercise that power. It’s amazing.

AVC: Did you ever see the sequel?

EW: The Rage: Carrie 2? I never did. I never saw the remake TV movie, either.

AVC: I never saw the remake, but the sequel, surprisingly, for a movie that did not have to be made in any way, is surprisingly interesting. It’s worth checking out.

EW: I didn’t see that. I’ve seen a lot of the Carrie rip-offs. I remember—probably before I saw Carrie, I saw a film called Jennifer, which is almost shot-for-shot Carrie, where, if memory serves me correctly, she turns into a snake. 1978 horror film. “She’s got the power, and they haven’t got a prayer.” Two years after Carrie. And besides her also having telekinetic and psychic powers, there’s definitely a giant snake in it.

Posted by Geoff at 6:35 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Monday night at 8pm eastern, TCM premieres The Horrors Of Stephen King, the third special in its Dreamworks-produced series, A Night At The Movies. The documentary consists of an hour-long interview with King, and was directed by Laurent Bouzereau, who also made the first two specials in the series, The Suspensful World Of Thrillers, and The Gigantic World Of Epics, each of which aired in 2009. The Stephen King edition will air several times throughout October, and each Monday of the month, TCM will feature a night of classic horror films.

Dread Central posted a few of King's quotes from the upcoming special, including this one regarding the Brian De Palma adaptation of King's novel, Carrie:

Carrie was a terrific piece of work. At the end of the movie comes, when Amy Irving kneels down to put the flowers on Carrie’s grave, a hand comes up through the grave and seizes her by the arm. The audience went to the roof, totally to the roof. It was just the most amazing reaction. And I thought, ‘We have a monster hit on our hands. Brian De Palma has done something new. He’s actually created a shock ending that shocks an audience that was ready for a horror film.’ And there were several people who did it after that.

Scott Holleran provides a rundown of some of the things King discusses on the program, including this bit about Carrie: "Discussing Brian De Palma’s 1976 version of his novel Carrie, King says he wasn’t even invited to attend a screening and, when he did see it, it was a double feature with Norman, Is That You?, a black-themed film, and he was surprised that the predominantly black audience responded to Carrie."

Meanwhile, our old friend John Demetry finds plenty of room for criticism of King's description of De Palma's film as a "terrific piece of work." Demetry writes, "King repeats variations on that term—'piece of work'—throughout, as if horror films were only reaction-making machines, thus limiting the value of all horror films to the level of product. This might explain King’s own prolific output. However, De Palma transformed King’s 'piece of work' into a work of art." Demetry then elaborates:

King’s voice-over lands on a still from John Boorman’s Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977): “Even psychologists who’ve studied the genre don’t understand what works and what doesn’t work.” Boorman takes film audiences way beyond King’s conception of how horror “works.” The freedom afforded by the horror genre allows Boorman to realize astonishment: primal imagery (tapping the collective unconscious) and mystical social metaphor (the wings of Pazuzu). This visionary (corrective) sequel to William Friedkin’s 1973 film contradicts King’s thesis. Transcending the realm of “psychologists,” the engaged spectator discovers the full terror of The Heretic: Evil exists. But so does Good. It represents a total metaphysical statement. The achievements of De Palma and Boorman suggest an alternative (auteurist) history of horror to the one presented in The Horrors of Stephen King. Carrie and Exorcist II represent high points in film history where the genre market provided the possibility for an artist’s personal expression to reach a mass audience.

For his own part, King went into detail about the differences between his novel and De Palma's film in his 1981 book, Danse Macabre, in which King states, "De Palma's approach to the material was lighter and more deft than my own—and a good deal more artistic."

Meanwhile, last month, Fangoria #306 included an interview by Lee Gambin with Sissy Spacek, who discussed what she brought to the movie that was different from King's novel:

I read the book before I knew the film was being made, but then I reread it the day before auditioning. The thing about the novel that really stood out for me was that this girl was so pathetic, she was such a loser, and I believe that what I added when it came time to shoot the movie was to give the character a little bit of hope. I felt, "Here's this girl who has all these special powers, but she doesn't care about that; she just wants to be normal and fit in and have friends, a boyfriend, go to the prom." She was an artist, she wrote poetry in secret up in her room; she had this freak of a mother who destroyed her life, and Carrie just wanted to be happy, and for a moment, she gets to experience happiness—just for a moment.

Asked by Gambin how she channeled the dynamic energy required for the role, Spacek responded:

The script by Lawrence D. Cohen was so good and I was so into the story, and during production I really kept myself away from the rest of the cast. I felt very sorry for myself and isolated and different, just like Carrie did. And I really believe Brian did such a beautiful job directing it; he knew exactly what he wanted, his shots were so planned out. One of the main reasons I love him as a director is that he'd say, "OK, I want you there and then there and I need you to do this, this and this," and anything else you wanted to do, as long as it fit within his framework of the overall piece, you had the freedom to do, and that was great.

Fangoria included Carrie in its special 300th issue earlier this year, in which Ginger Snaps actress Emily Perkins stated that as an actress and a woman, she loves Carrie, "the best horror movie ever." Also in that issue, director Norman J. Warren (Satan's Slave) called Carrie "a perfect picture," and "the best horror movie." "Beautifully constructed and beautifully photographed," Warren told Fangoria, "the film captured me right from the opening scenes."

Posted by Geoff at 8:59 PM CDT
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

In a blog post announcing his interview with Sissy Spacek in the new issue of Fangoria hitting stands this month, Lee Gambin also quotes from drag queen Jackie Beat about her obsession with Carrie. The photo above shows Beat's office. "If I had to choose one movie that completely changed my life, it would have to be Carrie,” Beat told Gambin. “It was a low-budget horror movie for teens, so when its two stars, Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, were each nominated for Oscars, it was almost as shocking as the movie’s often-copied ending!” Beat told Gambin that the film's celebration of the misfit "helped shape me into the person I am today: a writer and performer who, instead of setting people on fire or crushing them with a basketball backboard, kills ’em with my razor-sharp tongue!” The Spacek interview is focused on her role in Carrie.

Posted by Geoff at 9:00 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 2, 2011
Can you stand one more post about upcoming Carrie action? This is becoming Carrie central all of a sudden. Back in October, a New York Times article effectively announced that MCC Theater had aquired the revamped Carrie musical, planning to open the show Off Broadway as "a major production at the Lucille Lortel Theater during the 2011-12 season." An official announcement came Tuesday, according to CBC News, which stated that preview performances would begin January 31, 2012. In the upcoming show, Molly Ranson will play Carrie White, and Tony-nominated actress Marin Mazzie will play her mother. MCC Theater director Bernard Telsey is quoted enthusing, "What can I say about Carrie? We've been in love with this piece since we heard a reading two years ago. It's so moving and Marin Mazzie and Molly Ranson are going to knock people out." According to Playbill, this "newly reworked and fully re-imagined vision of this gripping tale" will be set in present day Maine.

Sissy Spacek was Oscar-nominated for her role as Carrie in 1976, and if rumors are to be believed, producers of the planned remake are looking toward another Oscar-nominated actress to cast in the role. According to Cinema Blend's Josh Tyler, one of that site's "most proven sources" suggests that said producers "are eyeing Hailee Steinfeld as a top candidate" to play Carrie White in the remake. Steinfeld was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance last year in Joel & Ethan Coen's True Grit. "That doesn’t mean, of course, that Hailee has it," Tyler writes, "or even wants it. The script is still being written and they won’t make any decisions until it’s done, nor are the film’s producers likely to confirm which direction they’re leaning." If this rumor is true, it suggests that the makers of this remake may be looking to make a film that, like De Palma's original, will be remembered at Oscar time.

Posted by Geoff at 8:57 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:52 PM CDT
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Well, MGM's remake of Carrie received quite a boost from Stephen King's off-the-cuff mention of Lindsay Lohan as a potential Carrie White. The gossip sites that quote unnamed sources are abuzz. According to TMZ, "sources close to" Lohan said the actress was "stoked" to hear that King mentioned her name, adding that working with the author "would be epic." Even more surprising, Megan Fox is said to be gunning for the lead role in Carrie, according to ShowbizSpy. Like TMZ, ShowbizSpy quotes a "source close to" Fox as saying, "Megan is a huge fan of the original and would love the chance to play the lead. She’s 25 now but she’s sure she could still do justice to teenage Carrie. She’s told her people to make it happen." In 2009, Fox played the antagonist in the Carrie-esque Jennifer's Body, and later had a public falling out with Michael Bay over her role in his Transformers series. The ShowbizSpy article stresses that Fox wants to get away from her "Transformers image," and is hoping to start mixing theater work with her film career.

Speaking of Carrie, a couple of weeks ago, in the print version of Entertainment Weekly, critic Owen Gleiberman reviewed the new Disney film Prom, pointing out that "a mere decade ago, the event was still called 'the prom,' but in Prom... it is never referred to as anything but 'prom'-- as in, Who are you asking to prom? It's not even fully clear whether prom is now a noun or a verb (are you going to prom? We're going to prom like it's 2099!). And that signals that the prom is no mere party but, in fact, a state of mind."

In the print version of his review, Gleiberman includes a section in which he tours through proms as depicted in various films, including Napoleon Dynamite, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Pretty In Pink, Saved!, and Footloose, while devoting a separate paragraph to Brian De Palma's Carrie:

There's no doubt that the ultimate prom movie is Carrie (1976), a suburban Cinderella daydream-turned-blood-drenched nightmare. As the pale senior-class mouse who gets duped into becoming prom queen (all so she can get a bucket of blood dumped on her during the crowning), Sissy Spacek makes Carrie the cringing wallflower in all of us: one who both covets and fears acceptance. Then she becomes an avenging angel, and the film's slow-motion majesty turns it into the most lyrically emotional of all modern thrillers, a vision of high school as hell.

Posted by Geoff at 8:29 AM CDT
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