ALSO: 'CARRIE' AT HALLOWEEN ALL NIGHTER IN LONDON; PODCAST DISCUSSES 'CARRIE' & FEAR
It's Halloween season, which means it's time for Carrie discussions and screenings all over the place. At Vulture last week, nine actors spoke to Jennifer Vineyard about their big death scenes in famous horror movies. Two of those actors were Piper Laurie and Betty Buckley, who kicked off the article by talking about their deaths in Carrie:
We all gathered to watch each other’s death scenes, and we’d go out and party afterwards to celebrate that a character had been bumped off. But in the days before that, the whole prom construction took quite a while. This contraption they built for Ms. Collins’s death scene was a basketball backboard that was on a pendulum. There was a foot of balsam wood that would take the hit against the body. They planned it so that we shot four takes with the pendulum falling and then stopping it right before it hit me. That was very scary. So what you’re seeing on film is not acting at all. I’m absolutely terrified because they had not tested out the machine. So they didn’t know [if] they calculated the balsam properly in terms of the amount and, you know, [if they] could stop it on a dime right before it hit me. Thankfully, it worked. We were all absolutely terrified.
My stunt lady was dressed like me with a wig and everything. They put her in the shot and she took the hit. But it didn’t hurt her, and thankfully, Brian [De Palma] told me to watch the movements she made and to duplicate those. They removed her from the contraption, inserted me again, and I then imitated all her behavior when she took the hit, and they shot the close-up of my dying. I had [fake] blood in my mouth that I was supposed to vomit out. They just give you a swig, then you spit it out and they bring you water.
In the several takes of my death scene, Brian’s direction to me was: Squirm like a bug on a pin. So I squirmed like a bug on a pin, and then I was supposed to vomit out the blood. He wanted different sounds as I was dying. So, one scene, my scream ended up sounding like a musical note. It was really quite silly. We were all laughing about that.
[Re: Buckley's scream that ended up sounding like a musical note-- do you suppose that might have been where De Palma got the idea for the "Coed Frenzy" girl's scream in the shower, which sounds like a musical note and cuts to John Travolta laughing at it?]
Piper Laurie, speaking to Vulture's Jennifer Vineyard:
They built a steel vest that I wore under the gown, and on that vest were several small blocks of wood. Wires attached to the wood that went through small holes in my gown. The wires were, like, 15 feet long and stretched across to where the prop man was, or the special-effects man was. This was done in slow motion, you know, the can opener or the knife or whatever coming at me. There was no way they would injure me, moving at such a slow pace. It was hard not to laugh, watching this instrument bobbing along at me like that, slowly. It just looked ridiculous. But, of course, it had quite a different look than it did at the end. Just before we were to start shooting [the death scene], I met Brian outside, we were both on our way to the restrooms, and I said, “Brian, I have an idea. Instead of having just a death scene, just doing it straight, I’d like this to be a really joyous experience for Margaret White.” He said, "Great.” So that’s what I did.
I did not actually do the scene, the dialogue part, before the actual instrument attack. But the moment just before I kill Carrie, I didn’t rehearse that. I wanted the moment to be as raw as possible. I think it was an underlying element of how I thought of Margaret, her religion, her attitude about her daughter, and the fact that she considered her daughter menstruating horrible. And the fact that I sounded like I was having a very long orgasm ... I never spelled that out to Brian, I just did it. Part of that I actually played, but I suspect that in editing they extended that vocally longer than I actually did it. But I had such a good time shooting that scene.
HALLOWEEN ALL NIGHTER IN LONDON
Four horror classics make up the Halloween All Nighter that begins at 11:45pm Friday night (Halloween night, October 31st) at London's Electric Cinema. The program begins with Carrie, followed by The Shining. After an early-morning breakfast break, the program concludes with Rosemary's Baby, followed by The Wicker Man.
"CARRIE'S REAL DREAD LIES WITH HOW NERVOUS THE CHARACTERS SEEM TO BE ABOUT THE WORLD AROUND THEM"
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Block Bluster podcast at Mind Of The Geek featured a discussion of "Carrie and Fear." The host of the podcast, Tobias Ellis, wrote the following as an introduction:
"Everybody is afraid in Carrie. Even with all the now-iconic shots of a blood-drenched Carrie White destroying her senior prom, Carrie’s real dread lies with how nervous the characters seem to be about the world around them (a true testament to puberty if there ever was one). Carrie – realized perfectly by Sissy Spacek – begins terrified by her own body, then briefly by her own mind until finally embracing her supernatural gifts. Her physical transformation from 'girl' to 'woman' worries the few males around her, and causes Betty Buckley’s Miss Collins to wonder aloud how such a thing should bother anybody, until that makes her nervous at just how different Carrie White might be. Amy Irving’s Sue Snell is afraid of the repercussions her treatment of Carrie might cause, and of becoming the shrill, cruel Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), and does her best – in fumbling, teenage fashion – to make amends. Carrie’s mother, played to Oscar nomination by Piper Laurie, is afraid of her daughter growing up and living in these godless times. And the adults are afraid of her, and whether she might be right.
"Despite all the fear, several characters – including Tommy Ross (William Katt), Sue, and Miss Collins – have the best of intentions for Carrie White, treating her with kindness and sensitivity. Yet, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Carrie – and all its lurid, color-washed agitation – begins with blood, and ends with blood.
"This week, just in time for Halloween, Block Bluster! revisits Brian De Palma’s horror classic to discuss what it means to be afraid, and what Carrie says not so much about scaring the audience, but building an atmosphere of dread reflective of everyday fears. How terrified of the odd kid in school should we be? How terrified of each other should we be? And to help us discuss Carrie and Fear, we welcome back – from the podcasts Film Fodder and Behind the Desk – our good friend Antonio Jones!"