'CARRIE' WAS UNVEILED IN U.S. THEATERS WITH LATE NIGHT PREVIEW SCREENINGS
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Who were you closest with on set? Was it Nancy Allen [again, she played Chris], since most of your scenes were with her?
Yeah, Nancy and I are still really, really good friends. And we were very close [on set]. I was always trying to steer her away from having a crush on Brian. Didn’t work — she married him! And got divorced [Laughs.] But I tried to warn her, I said, “Why are you doing this? Look, he’s got that look on his face, like he’s enjoying all this. There’s a sadistic guy in there.” [Pretending to be Nancy], “Oh, he’s so cute.” No, Nancy, no! I was also close to Betty Buckley [who played Miss Collins], she actually had been a previous girlfriend of Brian’s. And she didn’t know how to drive and I had a blue pickup truck, and Brian asked if I would pick her up every day at the Chateau Marmont and bring her to the set. And so I’d go by every day and pick up Betty, who would pull down the visor and put on makeup. And I’d go, “It’s 6 a.m., Betty, we’ll be in makeup in like half an hour. What are you doing?” She’d go, “Brian’s gonna see me, I want to look my best!” I’d go, “Brian? He’s not even gonna look at us. We’re gonna go right to makeup.”
So Brian was the set stud?
Well, I wouldn’t say that. I think Nancy had a crush on him and Betty was an ex-girlfriend. She was nervous about how he was going to do away with her character, that’s all she would talk about. Because it wasn’t specified in the script. It said, like, “chaos in the gymnasium” and then it was up to Brian how each individual person was killed. Like, my character got killed by the fire hose, which obviously wasn’t in the Stephen King book because there was no Norma in the book. But Betty was nervous about how he was going to do away with her and then the basketball, the backboard comes crashing down on her. She was terrified of that.
Were Brian and Nancy actually dating on set or did that come after? No, no, I think it was once it ended. I mean, everybody was busy. We filmed all day long and then Brian was one of the rare directors that would say, “Come on, kids, let’s go look at the dailies.” And then we’d all march over to the screening room and watch dailies together. It always amazed me that he would want us in there, because he was making his notes, working, while we were in there laughing, going, “Hahaha, look at that.”
Was he inclusive, then? I thought he was known for being more like a dictator. He wasn’t really a dictator. It was definitely his set. You always know who the director is: They’re the one in charge and they’re sitting in the higher chair. But he wasn’t very verbal. For instance, at the end of a scene, a lot of directors will go, “Cut. That’s great, let’s do another one.” Or, “Oh, that’s great, we can move on.” He would say cut and then you’d look and if he had this sly smile on his face, you knew he liked it. And then he’d just kind of mumble. And if you saw the camera move, you’d go, I guess we’re moving on. That’s good. We’re not gonna do it again. So it wasn’t a loud set; it was a very quiet set. It was really about the shots, and the lighting, and the look. We came in at the last minute like a football team, like, Okay, run this play. We have the field mowed, the people in the stands, and then the players come in to run one play. We were sort of the afterthought to everything that was going on. Everything that led up to it was what took the time, and it looks like that. To me, when I watch it now, it looks like a work of art; it looks like somebody painted this movie.
In 1975, when the film was made, the community center was the just-closed Pier Avenue School, on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. The art deco building today operates as a theater and public gymnasium, and is the home to the Hermosa Beach Historical Museum.
The building’s exterior and the outside stairway in the back played pivotal roles in “Carrie,” according to Jack Fisk, an art director on the film who has also been married to Spacek since 1974.
Pier Avenue School was one of three schools used to represent Bates High in the film, Fisk said in the 2001 documentary “Visualizing Carrie.” The bone-chilling final indoor scene was shot on a sound stage to take advantage of special effects involving fire, he said.
This week’s film screening, hosted by students from Mira Costa and Redondo Union high schools, will include a 1970s-themed costume party and a discussion of the film’s Hermosa Beach history.
Jamie Erickson, director of operations at the Hermosa Beach Historical Museum, will also show off a portion of the girl’s shower stall with the original pink tile that was part of a key scene. That part of “Carrie” happens early in the film, when classmates tease the shy Carrie White, whose fanatically religious mother fails to tell her what to expect when she gets her period.
The other photo was taken at a 2018 screening of Carrie at the Hermosa Beach Museum. It shows the shower that can be seen in the film, and which is currently in a city storage area at the Hermosa Beach Community Center and is not accessible to the public:
TheMovieScores exclusive VIDEO INTERVIEW with the great Italian composer, who tells us his story, his beginnings in classical music, his time in pop-rock, and his foray into film music, with his extensive collaboration with the American director BRIAN DE PALMA in films such as Carrie, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, with JOE DANTE in Piranha and The Howling, and also with directors such as Darío Argento, George A. Romero, Pupi Avati, Lucio Fulci, and Tinto Brass, among much others. A very interesting conversation, in which the Venetian master contributed unpublished data, told curious anecdotes and even allowed himself to joke about certain aspects of his prolific career, with more than 200 soundtracks to his credit. A luxury and a pleasure to have had the opportunity to interview PINO DONAGGIO, one of the last sacred monsters of film music of all time. Thanks, Pino !!!!!!
io9: Broadcast Signal Intrusion has some very noir vibes (the score backs this up) but it’s also very much a mystery thriller about discovering something that most people haven’t noticed. How did you strike that balance in tone?
Gentry: I’m such a lover of noir in my life, and my previous film was very much in the form of a noir movie with those tropes. But for this one, it was really about ‘70s paranoia thrillers, movies which are a descendant of noir in a lot of ways — like Alan J. Pakula’s paranoia trilogy Klute, The Parallax View, and All the President’s Men, and then the other triptych of Blow Up, The Conversation, and Blow Out. Blow Out is a touchstone movie for me, it’s one of my favourite movies. I’m a [Brian] De Palma super fan. So, of course, all those things start to come together. The score, which a lot of people say sounds noirish, is actually — if you listen to some of the Michael Small music from movies like Marathon Man and Parallax View and Klute, it has very much the DNA of those, which I think pulls from the sort of prime period of film noir, and it’s almost an identifier for the audience. There’s this darkness, there’s mystery, but there’s also kind of like a sleaziness. You want to build paranoia, but you also want to kind of give the idea of loneliness and isolation and those sorts of things. Ben Lovett, the composer, obviously does a lot of that heavy lifting.
io9: I definitely thought of Blow Out during the scene where James and Alice (Kelley Mack) are listening closely to one of the tapes, trying to hear the hidden sounds.
Gentry: Yeah, there’s definitely some — I call it “process porn,” and it’s something I love. You know, whether it’s something like John Travolta forensically analysing his sound tapes to discover a conspiracy, or James Caan [in Thief] with the intricate Michael Mann shot process of breaking into a safe. I love watching that if it’s done well and it’s always fun to try to make compelling.
io9: The ending, without giving too much away, dips into a very surreal place, kind of capping off the movie’s slow descent into a world that doesn’t quite feel real. What do you want audiences to take away from that last scene?
Gentry: I think the ultimate reaction, the sort of hope or dream, would be a really good parking lot conversation, or whatever [the equivalent of that would be] if you were to watch it at home and discuss it online. Some of my best moviegoing experiences are when you have a really good discussion about it afterwards and it sticks with you. Even if you don’t like it at first, there’s perhaps things you can discover about it. Some of my favourite movies or movies are ones that I was a little bit conflicted on. We took a lot of inspiration from Zodiac, a movie I was kind of unsure about when I first saw it, or even more recently, something like Under the Silver Lake. My wife and I were coming out of that and it was like, “I don’t think I like that movie,” and then we proceeded to talk about it the entire ride home. You know what I mean?
So that’s really the goal — hopefully it will be compelling and exciting and thrilling and unsettling. But also, if you so choose, there’s interesting things that can be discussed. Some of the most interesting conversations about this movie I’ve heard are when there’s someone who was like, “I hated the end of that movie,” and another person who wanted to defend it. And I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
On your way up, what movie or series did you watch that was so good, it made you question whether you could ever rise to that level?
Stephen King: Probably later on, it would have been a film like Duel, where you saw that and you said, I can't do this yet. Okay. That was the Spielberg film where Dennis Weaver was being chased by a psychotic truck driver. You never see the driver at all. There's a little bit of that feeling of Duel in a novel I wrote called Cujo, where I wrote the book, and I said to myself, "This is good, but you're going to make it better. You're going to make it something like Duel, where you don't necessarily have to have a lot of backstory or a lot of motivation. You just want to make it like a brick that hits people in the head." And that's the way that film was. Stripped to the bone.
Whether it was your own work, or approval from someone who mattered to you, what first gave you the confidence that you belonged?
Stephen King:I'm not a movie maker, per se, and that's taken a lot of the pressure off me. You know, Ernest Hemingway once said, the best thing that a writer can hope for is that a studio pays a lot of money for something you wrote, and then never makes the movie. And I never felt that way because I've always felt like you see interesting filmmakers - like when Paul Monash optioned Carrie, and he said he knew a director who had done a number of small films named Brian De Palma. I knew Brian De Palma's work from Sisters, and I thought, "This is the perfect guy for this film." I mean, I've got a film background. I love movies, and I watch a lot to this day. I don't think they make the same sort of impression on anybody that they did when they were young, when they were kids. You never get the kind of scare that you get in Psycho, when the shower curtain goes back and that knife starts to plunge back-and-forth. That never happens again. But you see a lot of filmmakers that you say to yourself, "This is interesting." And then sometimes, somebody will come along who is not part of the film community that you know about. Like Frank Darabont. And you say to yourself, "I want to see what happens." It's curiosity. It's pure curiosity. But as far as making films myself, I've written for film, and that's been an education. And it's an earn-while-you-learn deal. So, little by little I've learned about that end of it. And it's a different job, but I used to look on screen work as work for people who weren't really talented. And when I was able to change my mind about that, I was able to do better work.