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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

At The Irish Times today, Simon Hattenstone profiles Sissy Spacek:
Mary Elizabeth Spacek was born on Christmas Day 1949 in Quitman, Texas. Her family were well established – her paternal grandfather was the mayor of Granger, Texas, her father a county agricultural agent and her mother a typist at the county courthouse. Her two older brothers called her Sissy and that is how it stayed.

Spacek’s childhood was idyllic. She fished with her brothers, rode a horse called Buck, went barefoot throughout the summer, watched matinees at the local picture house and performed in talent contests from the age of six. It all came to an end when Robbie, an outstanding athlete, became ill. At 17, she spent the summer with the actor Rip Torn and his wife, Geraldine Paige, in New York to “get out from under” the unfolding family tragedy. Spacek had planned to go to the University of Texas, but Robbie’s death changed everything. After finishing high school, she returned to New York in the hope of becoming a great folk singer.

It didn’t quite work out. In 1968, under the nom de plume Rainbo, she recorded a hilarious single called John You Went Too Far This Time, declaring her love for John Lennon while berating him for posing nude with Yoko on the Two Virgins album sleeve. She also sang with a group called Moose and the Pelicans, who released a likable version of She’s a Rebel. When she was dropped by her record label, she turned to acting. Within a few months of starting at Lee Strasberg, she had been cast by Malick in Badlands, where she met her husband, Jack Fisk, the film’s production designer.

With Badlands, she says, she discovered just what was possible in movies. “It was when I realised film can be art. And I was working with people – Terrence Malick, Jack Fisk, Martin Sheen [who played her boyfriend, Kit]– who had such passion. Their passion for their work ignited something in me. I had all that experience growing up, good and painful and joyous, and now I had a place to put it.” Spacek looked so different from most Hollywood starlets – red-haired, ferociously freckled, short, slight and childlike. She seemed feral one minute, serenely beautiful the next. Badlands taught her how little you had to do or say in films to make an impression. Often she expressed more with those huge blue eyes than with her words.

She lights up when she talks about Badlands. But, to be fair, she lights up when she talks about so many of her movies. In Coal Miner’s Daughter, she got to sing Lynn’s songs and won a gold disc for the soundtrack. “When we decided to go with Michael Apted, someone said to me: ‘Why did you decide to go with an Englishman?’ Well, he grew up in a coal-mining community and he didn’t bring any of the country cliches that are so prevalent. And gosh, what a great artist. You know, it’s all about the director.”

Despite winning the best actress Oscar for Coal Miner’s Daughter, it was Carrie that made her most famous. Even now, she says, teenagers show her their Carrie tattoos. “Who knew that Carrie would be around like 100 years later? Every year a new generation of young people see it.” As much as anything, Carrie is about the pain of adolescence. “So many kids feel tortured when they’re in middle school and high school. Bullied and misunderstood. Stephen King hit a nerve with that. It’s a universal story.”

Although 26-year-old Spacek was playing a schoolgirl in Carrie, she had already been working for eight years. Did she feel much older than the characters she played? Yes and no, she says. “I had maturity because of what I had lived through already, but I’ve always been connected to the inner child. I just am.” I can still see that inner child today, I say. She beams. “You think so? As a person, I do. I’m excited about people, I’m excited about work, I’m excited about children. I’m pretty passionate. I don’t feel lukewarm about things. I’m either all in or not at all.”

Incredibly, Spacek was nominated for five Oscars between 1977 and 1986. “I went from one film to another, working with great directors. It was a wonderful time. The artists ruled in the 1970s. We were making low-budget films that the studios didn’t care about, so they’d leave us to our own devices.”

Meanwhile, Carrie is mentioned in a review or two of Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe:

Drollery is in fairly short supply. In keeping with the Scarlet Witch’s witchiness, this is the closest the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come to including a horror movie. Is Raimi returning to those “Evil Dead” roots? An eye emerges in a very familiar forehead. An alternate Strange looks like a cross between a zombie and the Phantom of the Opera. Skeletal souls of the damned fly through the air with the greatest of unease. In several sequences, a bloodied Wanda is the spitting (or bleeding) image of Sissy Spacek in “Carrie.”

Noel Vera, BusinessWorld's Critic After Dark
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch provides the electric charge that jolts this patchwork mess to life. Her quest to seek her lost children is a struggle any parent, or anyone who’s lost a loved one can understand. That furtive thought lurking at the back of one’s grieving mind: “Maybe if I bring them back” — the results may never be good, but we’re not being honest if we say we never entertained such thoughts.

And Raimi plays it up; wraps Olsen in shadows as she strides forth with red LED eyes, splatters her face with drying blood (Brian de Palma’s Carrie much?). As far as gore goes, this is Parental Guidance Raimi, barely worth mentioning, but one look at Olsen’s wild despairing face and you know where the true horror lies: this is love without hope seeking a way to keep itself alive, knowing what it’s doing is wrong wrong wrong, lying to itself constantly that maybe somehow somewhere there’s a way. I saw the movie with some people, and one of them remarked: “I kept rooting for the evil witch.” I can relate to that and suspect Raimi can too — at one point we see Wanda’s imagined children watching TV, and on the small screen was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I remember Woody Allen in Annie Hall saying “I immediately fell for the Wicked Queen.”

Multiverse of Madness is pretty good, perhaps the best Marvel since Raimi’s own Spider-Man movies and, really, it’s hard to fault the picture for anything save for flaws that don’t really matter (rigorous plotting, realism, characterization of everyone not played by Olsen). Oh! And timing — over a month ago A24 released Everything Everywhere All at Once and what Dr. Strange achieved for $200 million the Daniels did for only $25 million; the universes are wilder (Paint Universe and Dispersing-Cubes Universe vs. Hotdog Fingers Universe and Just Rocks Universe), the MacGuffin even more bizarre (Book of Vishanti, meet The Everything Bagel). Perversely, the fight sequences in Everything are superior because: 1.) very little if any of it involves CGI, and 2.) it’s performed mostly by Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh — talk about low-tech, they are perfectly capable of and do the action for real. Yes, Olsen was affecting but Michelle Yeoh, I submit, has the richer role, playing Loser Evelyn, Movie-Star Evelyn, Sausage Fingers Evelyn, and so on. And none of this is arbitrary; turns out almost every Evelyn is a result of a choice her character makes or fails to make (the rest were created by the choices of people who have affected Evelyn, or basically everyone else), suggesting the branching, bewildering complexity of even such an ostensibly low-profile life. In effect The Daniels now are what Raimi was when he first started, directing his own scripts with almost no resources — and this I see is where I first came in; pardon me while I let myself out the side door.

See also:
CBR.com: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness turned one character into a horror archetype by homaging Brian De Palma's Carrie

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2022 9:34 PM CDT
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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

At Film Freedonia, Roderick Heath delves deep into Brian De Palma's Carrie. Here's a brief excerpt:
Carrie’s story advances with the rigour and inevitability of Greek tragedy, a likeness that only becomes stronger as it encompasses an offended heroine whose story counts down in distorted gradations of unified time and setting, and a stage that becomes an amphitheatre of carnage and breakdown, and where the mechanics of what’s happening unfold with predestined smoothness. Intrigues simultaneously reach out to Carrie to rescue her and destroy her, charted with mischievous detail and coming together in the prom. Hitchcock, never of course far out of range of De Palma’s points of reference, is nodded to in the suburban gothic of the White house and in the name of the High School. De Palma’s aesthetic for the film is as hot as Stanley Kubrick’s for The Shining (1981) would be cold, via Mario Tosi’s cinematography. De Palma’s deeply sarcastic romanticism continues with Carrie’s walk home early in the film along sun-dappled streets replete with shady trees and red roses that mimic and mock her menstrual blood, and mirrors this imagery towards the end as a sanctified and white-clad Sue makes the same walk towards the White house, or where it used to be. Strong anticipation here for the aesthetic David Lynch would apply to Blue Velvet (1986) of a stylised, utopian, too-good-to-be-true suburban life.

Collins’ forced exercise regimen for the girls’ punishment becomes a little aria of camera wit, tracking along at thigh-height with the teacher as the girls are put through their strenuous paces, rendered ridiculous as they bob in and out of the frame with increasingly frayed expressions. This is in itself a more deadpan and playful riposte to the precursor scene where Margaret lords over Carrie where De Palma conveys the application of authority more ominously from on high, as Margaret slaps her daughter’s face with a booklet with a chapter title, ‘The Sins of Woman’ and, with a similar rhythmic intensity to the exercising girls, tries to make Carrie repeat her chant of “The first sin was intercourse,” which also echoes the girls’ chant of “Plug it up!” By contrast, De Palma sees Tommy and his pals hitting the town to be fitted for prom tuxedos, vaguely recalling the lads about town in Greetings, except that De Palma starts fast-forwarding through their yammering, a good joke in its own right that engages in a playful way with De Palma’s delight in the texture of film itself, and also a curt thematic underlining: the boys aren’t the show in this movie. The detention exercise scene also provides a definitive character moment with Chris’s attempted rebellion turning distraught after Collins slaps her, and her appeal to her friends – “She can’t get away with this if we all stick together!” – gains only timorous shakes of the head from most and, from a revolted Sue, one “Shut up Chris, just shut up.”

Irving, who would be promoted to the role of gifted-accursed psychic in The Fury (1978), De Palma’s thematic sequel, has an interesting role as Sue, whose journey is in a way the actual core of Carrie although she’s not the focal point, as Sue represents a kind of assailed middle ground in the story, someone who grows up a little faster than her schoolmates but remains dangerously naïve in aspects. Glimpsed at first eagerly joining the pack attacking Carrie, she’s pulled aside by Collins when she first comes on the scene and angrily berated for her behaviour, and looks bewildered, as if pulled out of sleepwalking. Sue’s desire to do Carrie a good turn – “We don’t care how we look,” she tells Collins when the teacher confronts her and Tommy – is a noble gesture with troubling caveats, in obliging her boyfriend to make that gesture on her behalf, but not imagining there’s personal risk in it, and in accidentally handing Chris the perfect venue for her own cruelty. Sue’s working on Tommy resolves when he finally says he’ll do it whilst she’s doing homework and he’s watching a James Garner Western on TV, a deft little joke that suggests Tommy enjoys playing the white knight. Irving’s on-screen mother Eleanor was played by her real one, Priscilla Pointer. Eleanor’s early encounter with Margaret, who comes to her house soliciting donations, sees the way adult transaction counterpoint those of teenagers, Eleanor trying her best to fend off Margaret’s proselytising with awkward courtesy before flatly bribing her to go away, a gesture Margaret accepts but not without making sure the offender feels the frost her righteous gaze.

De Palma also taps the paraphernalia of Margaret’s religiosity for exceedingly dark humour and even darker psychology, setting up a motif that has its brilliantly sick pay-off by film’s end. Margaret’s exiling of Carrie into the prayer cupboard sees her share space with a statue of St Sebastian, riddled with arrows, upturned eyes painted with phosphorescent paint to better depict ecstatic agony. Good education for a life of martyrdom. Carrie already has Tommy in her sights as a fair idol, a newspaper clipping of his footballing exploits stuck to the side of her bedroom mirror, a mirror whose gaze she cracks in a moment of anxiety but manages to reforge mentally in time to avoid her mother’s attention. Katt is also tremendous as the genuinely good-natured Tommy, who eventually finds not just pride but real affection in playing Carrie’s beau for the night as he comes to comprehend there’s an interesting, potentially lovely person on his arm. He deftly knocks aside her not-at-all-illusioned stabs at releasing him from duty by assuring her he asked her out “because you liked my poem,” although he admits later he didn’t write it. Meanwhile Chris draws in other friends into her conspiracy, including Freddy (Michael Talbott), who left school before graduation and works now in the local slaughterhouse, and her friend Norma (P.J. Soles), who volunteer to be on the committee overseeing the election of the Prom King and Queen, intending to stuff the ballot for Carrie. Chris gets Freddy to help her and Billy kill a pig and collect its blood in a bucket, which they rig up in the rafters of the high school gym, where the prom will be take place, to pour the contents down on Carrie as a sadistic coup-de-theatre.

Carrie works beautifully as a metaphor for the sheer goddamn pain of growing up as a human animal. Where in the book Carrie had her powers from childhood here it’s explicitly connected with her new maturation, connecting them as devices of creation and destruction. For Margaret the ‘Sin of Woman” is not just to experience lust but to propagate at all. Spacek herself defined her understanding of Carrie as a “secret poet” who has no gift at expression and assertion until some strange kink of fate gifts her this powerful talent, as if her stifled will has forced some latent part of herself to grow like muscle. Or perhaps it’s a test provided from on high, or on low, connected to rather than breaking from her upbringing, and what Carrie then does with it can be seen a radical extrapolation of the Christian concept of free will. The more immediately troubling facet of Carrie’s prognosis lies in its understanding the pressure cooker nature of modern teenage life and the age of the school massacre, the school a social zone designed to force young people to become independent entities but instead all too often producing both dronish cliques and outcasts and rebels, experiences that most make part of their permanent identity for good or ill. King noted in his book On Writing that both of the girls he based Carrie on from his experience died young, one by suicide, their pain turned inward and septic, but Carrie the book and film sees a time when that kind of sickness will be turned outward and become the stuff of mass media causes celebre.

Notably, in The Fury when De Palma picked up the same basic plot motif of psychic powers as a metaphor for adolescent genesis and the fine line between creative and destructive potential, he turned the tables in making the popular, sporty kids stricken with the same power, with Robin Sandza the ultimate coddled man-child jock, and Gillian Bellaver a more focused and virtuous version of Carrie, finally blowing the false parent/authority figure to smithereens. Carrie certainly cemented precepts Horror cinema would extend for years afterwards, but also seems from today’s perspective to have left a deeper influence on popular storytelling to come, many of which would invert the film’s tragic apocalypse into heroic narratives. Works like the Harry Potter series and a vast swathe of superhero movies take up its wish-fulfilment thread whilst avoiding its bleak contemplation of social and psychological determinism. The wave of high school movies, whilst having more realistic narratives, like Pretty In Pink (1985) and Mean Girls (2003) might also be counted as its children. The film’s underpinning similarities to George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) as an adolescent fantasy about control and annihilation, despite the very different tonal and genre frames, is given extra piquancy by how many members of Carrie’s cast also tried to get in on the Lucas film.

In any event, Carrie’s climactic prom sequence is one of those cinematic set-pieces it’s hard not to relish in anticipation even as in involves terrible things, simply for the sheer verve of the filmmaking and storytelling force. The sequence divides in three miniature chapters, each keyed to a different emotional experience and a different style, beginning with a depiction of rising exultation, a midsection of simultaneous anointing and portent, and a climax that erupts in anarchy. These chapters also have metaphysical overtones connected with Carrie’s experience: heaven, purgatory, hell. Heaven, because Carrie’s entrance to the prom and her experiences seem like her deepest wishes coming true, as she connects with people for the first time, finding actual friends in Tommy, Collins and some other girls, with Sue watching on like a fairy godmother who’s made this particular pumpkin into a princess. Purgatory where the slow motion photography stretches time into a dream zone where triumph – Tommy and Carrie delighted to find they’ve been elected and ascend to claim their dues – and calamity – Sue and Billy hiding behind the scenery with their fingers on the rope – coexist, and finally the inferno released along with the torrent of blood.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 5, 2022 12:44 AM CDT
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Monday, May 2, 2022

At MEL Magazine, William Katt talks to Tim Grierson about taking on the role of Tommy Ross in Carrie all those years ago:
Tommy was played by William Katt, who grew up in the Valley, his parents Bill Williams and Barbara Hale both actors. Now 71, he still can’t get over how different he was than the usual prom king — which, of course, is exactly why he was so good as Tommy. “I didn’t go to my own prom,” Katt tells me. But as luck would have it, after he graduated from high school he went to the proms of girls he was dating. “I ended up going to about three proms, and they were horrible. I never enjoyed going to the proms, and I just remember wanting to leave as quickly as I could. I have an aversion to being around a lot of people, and that started at a very young age — I didn’t like to be in a large group. But at the time, my dates, that’s what they wanted to do, and I wanted to appease them, so I would go.”

Katt’s always been a good-looking guy, though: Was he voted prom king at any of those later dances? “No,” he says with a laugh. “Usually, that was toward the end of the night when they would do that, and I was typically gone before then. [I did not] hang around with those kinds of people that would be running for prom king or queen. Usually those were the jocks, you know?”

What’s funny is that Katt actually was something of a jock — or, at the very least, he played sports. “I was a benchwarmer on the basketball team because I never got to be tall enough, but that’s about it,” he says. “After that, I just hung out with the musicians and the stoners. I didn’t date much in high school. [I was focused on] music and surfing. I was surfing on a team and doing surfing events on the weekends. That was the most important thing in my life — that and playing music and smoking joints. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that time.”

Eventually, he got into the family business, switching from pursuing a music career to becoming an actor. He wasn’t dreaming of stardom, just steady work. “I love the theater,” he says. “That’s where I started, South Coast Repertory. Most of my career, I had done a play at least once every year or two years. But at that time, I was just happy to make a living.”

Many know that Katt was one of many up-and-coming actors who auditioned to play Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars. Around the same time, though, he also tried out for Tommy. “I knew I was out of the running for George’s film, and then Brian’s screen test came shortly thereafter. I forget the studio where we did it, but I did some reading with Amy Irving — that’s mainly who I did my screen test with. I don’t even remember screen-testing with Sissy, to be honest. I remember seeing everybody there, her and John [Travolta, who played the snide Billy Nolan] and Nancy [Allen, who was Chris Hargensen, the leader of the mean girls] and some of the other people, but I don’t recall actually doing a screen test with Sissy.”

Katt had known Irving, who played his onscreen girlfriend, before their screen test. “She had been studying in England, and when she got back to the States, we had mutual friends,” he recalls. “We hooked up and dated briefly, but mainly we were friends. We stayed friends for an awful long time.” But whatever Katt did during his audition worked for De Palma, even though Katt didn’t feel like he had much in common with the character. “It was a revelation to me that Brian would cast me as Tommy Ross because I was the antithesis of that,” he admits. “Maybe he was making a statement. It was the mid-1970s, and I think things were changing, how we thought about who our heroes were.”

But that wasn’t the only way in which Katt, who doesn’t consider himself a big horror guy, wouldn’t have seemed like a natural fit. He had read King’s novel — “I briefly skimmed the book, to be very perfectly honest” — but when he took a look at the script, “I didn’t really realize it was a horror film. It felt to me like a morality tale. It was the story of the ugly duckling, and the ugly duckling gets superpowers. And all these people get their comeuppance from treating this girl so badly and bullying her.”

When I ask about conversations he had with De Palma about the character, Katt replies, “We did about a week or two of rehearsals in his apartment in Hollywood. We would get together and do the scenes and improv, and he would make changes to the script. Once we got to shooting, though, he had done all the work with the actors and he was really all about the camera and lighting and everything else.”

Katt has talked about how he modeled Tommy’s demeanor off some of the football players he knew in high school, giving the character the same swagger. But he confesses that he didn’t necessarily torture himself to figure out how he could make someone so unlike him come to life.

“I had done a lot of theater before then,” says Katt, who was 24 when he filmed Carrie. “I had worked at the Taper and whatnot. I studied with Gordon Hunt in his scene-study classes. I did all that stuff. So I’d like to say, ‘Yeah, I dug in…,’ but that would be false. Really, all I did was, it was a lot of me. I think I am a nice guy. I try to be nice to everybody that I meet and gracious and always have my best intentions to like somebody and have them like me.”

He credits his mom and dad for shaping that part of his personality. “My parents were both just great people,” he says. “They were full of grace, and they were generous and gracious and just kind to everybody. I guess that’s the way I grew up.”

From Tommy’s first scene, when Carrie nervously mentions in the back of the classroom that she likes his poem — later, we’ll learn he plagiarized it — he seems to genuinely take a shine to her, no matter how uncool she is. He’s initially confused by Sue’s request for him to ask Carrie to prom, but he gets on board with the plan pretty quickly. And even when Tommy’s first attempt to ask her out fails — Carrie thinks it’s a trick — he keeps at it, the two starting to hit it off over prom night.

“You see certain people that you wouldn’t expect would ever end up together, and then they do because they’re exact opposites,” Katt says of Tommy and Carrie’s surprising rapport. “There’s something about the chemistry that works.” It wasn’t hard for him to build a connection with Spacek, who received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role. “I really liked Sissy, not in a romantic way, but just as a person, as a friend, who she is when she’s not on camera.” In fact, Spacek was already married to her husband Jack Fisk, an Oscar-nominated production designer who handled Carrie’s art direction. “She’s just lovely,” Katt says. “You can’t help but like her. So I just tried to let myself like the person I was talking to.”

Carrie exudes an almost clinical detachment to its characters, viewing them like lab rats or specimens in a Petri dish. The effect is alienating, which is the point, amplifying the queasy unease that’s a signature of high school. The normal rituals of teenage life — dating, going to class, playing sports, attending prom — are shot with such chilliness that De Palma invites us to see how surreal and awful these adolescent rites of passage actually are. Even Tommy’s garish prom tuxedo feels like a sly commentary on the requisite high-school-dance uniform.

Katt insists he had no input on his frilly tux. “They chose that,” he says, laughing. “It was horrible. There was tackiness about it, but it really spoke to that era. It was an actual tux — it wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was kind of clownish.” He can, however, proudly claim credit for his terrific mane of curly blond locks. “[That’s] my hair just the way it grew out of my head — curly and twisted like my brain,” he jokes.

Like Katt, Spacek was well into her 20s when she made Carrie, and while they look older than their characters’ actual age, it lends them a certain maturity that separates them from the often shallow and thoughtless teens around them. In King’s book, Tommy comes across as a bit of a dope — or, put more kindly, the typical horny teenager. But in the film, there seems to be a hidden depth to the guy — maybe something he hasn’t himself yet realized — and he locates it by spending time with Carrie. Between Carrie’s hellish home life tormented by her religious-fanatic mother (Piper Laurie, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress) and the social anxiety of high school, she doesn’t have many safe spaces. As a result, Tommy becomes a welcome oasis amidst an inhospitable terrain of cruelty. To their shared surprise, they find something in each other that no one else in the world can give them.

“I think Brian wisely decided that the audience had to like these people,” says Katt. “We had to think that Carrie and Tommy might have worked out. That she could fall in love with him.” He points to one of Carrie’s most memorable moments, in which they’re slow-dancing at the prom, the camera rotating around them in a dizzying, euphoric 360-degree fashion. “That’s a great scene,” Katt says. “They start spinning around each other. We end up laughing, and I think that’s the moment when Tommy [thinks], ‘I really like this girl.’ And I think Carrie felt the same. And the audience is going to buy it — you really cared about these people. So when the bucket comes down on their heads, it’s horrifying.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2022 12:13 AM CDT
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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Each entry in Fangoria's "Wild Women With Steak Knives" series of articles finds author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas examining "a woman-directed horror film that's been largely overlooked or forgotten." In the latest entry, posted yesterday, Heller-Nicholas discusses Katt Shea's The Rage: Carrie 2. Here's a portion:
On March 18th, 1993, a group of young men from Lakewood, California, who collectively went by the self-bestowed name of the "Spur Posse" were arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Their crimes - and their response to it - would become major news in the United States at the time; charged with an array of sex crimes, these assaults were all linked to a 'game' the members had constructed which used a point system to create a competitive environment where these crimes garnered the assailant a numerical value, all leading up to the grotesque idea that there would be a 'winner'. The more rapes, the more points. Prosecutors dropped the case bar one single charge because they felt unable to prove these encounters were not consensual, and the police failed to pursue even statutory rape charges despite one of the survivors only being ten years old.

This was a long time before #MeToo, but there are echoes here of far too many future cases that we have seen since, and of course that existed long before this case itself. Why this particular news story caused such a storm is perhaps as much to do with the high class status of the Spur Posse - they were football players, the golden boys - as it did the horrific crimes they committed all in the name of this "game".

This might sound like a strange way to approach Katt Shea's The Rage: Carrie 2, but when you know this story, it comes as zero surprise to learn that the Spur Posse case was as much (if not more) an influence on the critically lambasted sequel to Brian De Palma's valorized 1976 original. That comparing the sequel to the original has remained the primary model for assessing this film is perhaps stating the obvious; if the title alone doesn't encourage us enough to do this, then the film itself goes to some pretty significant lengths to remind us of the original in some of its key moments, sometimes going a far as to replicate iconic scenes and images.

Original footage from De Palma's 1976 film of Sissy Spacek's famous Carrie even appears in The Rage, in a red-tinted flashback of the famous "plug it up scene". Spacek turned down an offer to appear in the sequel, but she did grant permission for this footage to be reused. However, Amy Irving does appear as a relatively central character, revamping her character, Sue Snell. Here, she now works at the school where the sequel takes place. A loose reconfiguring of Betty Buckley's gym teacher Miss Desjardin from the first film in many ways, she also differs significantly as she is much more overtly a champion for the victimized girls in the film, especially protagonist, Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl).

Rachel is Carrie's step-sister; they share the same father (who seems to have a thing for religious fanatics), which in itself is interesting because it renders Rachel and Carrie's telekinesis - a gift they both share - as not only hereditary, but passed down through the male family line. Violence, then, despite the centrality of the women characters here, is ultimately framed as inherently connected to the masculine. These girls have not just got enormous supernatural powers, but the violence intrinsic to that in both of their cases is something they literally got from a man; their propensity for violence, then, is deemed monstrous not only because it holds the potential for unrestrained destruction, but also because they are women who have what is biologically defined as being something emphatically masculine.

Rachel learns of her relationship to Carrie from Sue, whose guilt over Carrie's death and the carnage associated with it propel her to investigate Rachel's similar background with a demented religious kook for a mother. But Rachel and Carrie - and their stories - are as different as they are similar. Rachel's mother, for instance, is institutionalized very early in the film, leaving Rachel to grow up in an uncaring foster home (for the music fans amongst you, her stepfather is played by the iconic John Doe from the killer LA punk band X). While Carrie was meek and frightened, Rachel is tough; Pauline Kael once famously described Spacek's Carrie as looking like a "squashed frog", while Rachel is a tomboy (when one of the quasi-Spur Posse ringleaders invites her on a date early in the film, she unhesitatingly rejects him, telling him she's not interested "because I'm a dyke”. He doesn't pause to disbelieve it).

In the final stretches of the article, Heller-Nicholas states that her article "is less a defense of The Rage: Carrie 2 as it is perhaps a request for an opening up about how we approach films like this. In many ways, the film is doubly cursed (again, referencing that original title) because not only was it directed by a woman - effectively a crime, in the eyes of many horror fans and people in the industry, even now - but it's a dirty, stinky, shameful sequel. Maybe we need a different way to talk about sequels, because 'it's not as good as the original' is such an obvious thing to say about almost all of them (there are a few rare exceptions) that it seems almost pointless."

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 27, 2022 1:03 AM CDT
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Friday, March 25, 2022

"A splash of red is rarely just a splash of red," begins Sophie Monks Kaufman in her BFI article, 10 great films that make striking use of the colour red. "Often it symbolises death. Two girls in red coats – one in Don’t Look Now (1973) and one in Schindler’s List (1993) – are tragic figures haunting film history. A woman lies dying in a house full of red walls in Cries and Whispers (1972). The moment of death is bloodless, as the colour of her spent lifeforce is outsourced to the walls.

"Plenty of films are less coy about bloodshed and whole genres are built on gore. It would be easy to fill every spot on this list with slashers and gialli, creating a similar impression to the elevator doors opening in The Shining (1980).

"Although there does seem to be a theme of sadness, loss, violence and death to movies that make the most unabashed use of red, it is also the colour of passion. Sometimes primal feelings are too much for gentle or defeated people to confront. Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai use red in their production designs to express what their characters cannot.

"To lighten the mood: enter the scarlet seductress. 'She is always alluring,' says Catherine Bray in her Inside Cinema video essay, Women in Red. One such siren adds sparkle to this list: it’s Marilyn Monroe, the greatest bombshell who ever lived in her star-making role.

"The Red Balloon is a seemingly simple children’s film that won an Academy Award in 1956. Its use of red in both visual and emotional terms is the gold standard."

Kaufman's list is inspired by the 50th anniversary of Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers. Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976) is included:

Pig’s blood, a red convertible, Sissy Spacek’s hair, wine-coloured candles and a pale pink dress seen as red through a fundamentalist mother’s eyes. These are some of the key ingredients of Carrie. Brian De Palma adapted Stephen King’s novel, which is one of the saddest horror tales in existence. Humiliation and rejection push Carrie White (white is an invitation to red), the shy loner with telekinetic powers, towards a finale of destruction. This bursts out of her as the culmination of feelings so powerful that they cause literal combustions.

Lured into a sweet and short-lived feeling of belonging at high-school prom, only to have pig’s blood poured on her during a moment in the limelight, Carrie snaps, pushed to the edge by her violent mother. Hers is not a maniacal-laughter mode of vengeance; it is grief-fuelled. The red that has dripped steadily since the opening scene, where she gets her period, erupts in a torrent that makes a mockery of the fire trucks that arrive on the scene too late.

Kaufman's list also includes The Red Shoes (1948) --
As Brian De Palma would do later in Carrie (1976), Powell and Pressburger (the filmmaking duo known as The Archers) complement their use of visceral vermillion with the natural locks of a red-headed woman. Moira Shearer plays the ill-fated Vicky, an ingenue ballet-dancer beckoned under the oppressive wing of dance impresario Boris Lermontov (a brilliantly villainous Anton Walbrook, who is awarded the most memorable lines). Vicky is cast in the ballet of The Red Shoes, about a bewitched pair of ballet shoes that cause their wearer to dance themselves to death. The score is written by a young composer, also a redhead, and they fall in love, to the disapproval of Lermontov.

When Vicky is invited into a room to be offered the lead part, each figure of authority is surrounded by a splash of red, a portent of things to come. The Archers make a motif of red, white and blue, dressing Shearer, with her porcelain skin and auburn hair, in a colour wheel of blues.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

You'll recall that this past October, a group of South Bay teenagers hosted a screening of Carrie inside the gymnasium from Brian De Palma's film. Now, as Fangoria's Phil Nobile Jr. reports, Kenny Caperton is working up an even bigger event screening in that same location:
We love Kenny Caperton. He’s the Halloween fan who built and lives in a replica of the Myers House, as covered in FANGORIA v2, #1. Kenny is our kind of cinephile; he not only walks the walk, he lives the life. In the damn Myers House. Respect.

One would think that amount of dedication would scratch any horror location fan’s itch for good, but not Kenny. Kenny has, for the last couple of years, curated a traveling film screening series called On Set Cinema, and its premise is simple: you watch a classic horror movie at the location where it was filmed. From Friday the 13th to Rocky Horror to Twilight and beyond, Kenny hosts amazing fan events where you can enjoy a movie with fellow fans in the environs where it all happened.

And this summer, Kenny wants to ask you to prom. Carrie White’s prom, to be specific.

On July 30th, fans will gather at the Hermosa Beach Community Center Gym to pose for prom photos, compete in a costume contest, and watch the 1976 Brian De Palma classic Carrie with Tommy Ross himself, William Katt!

And here are the full details from On Set Cinema, via The Myers House:

SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2022: CARRIE (1976)


 Hermosa Beach, California • Bates High School Gymnasium

On Set Cinema cordially invites you to be our date to the Bates High School “Love Among The Stars” senior prom! Cover up those dirty pillows and head with us to Hermosa Beach, California on Saturday, July 30, 2022 for a very special screening event of one of the greatest movies in horror film history ...CARRIE! And I'm excited to announce that everyone's favorite prom king, Tommy Ross (William Katt) will be a special guest at this event! He will be signing autographs, taking prom photos with fans and doing a Q&A before the screening. I'll be showing the film inside the actual gymnasium from the movie! So many great scenes were filmed here - including where Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) gets the girls to line up after they humiliate Carrie in the girl's locker room and tells them about her detention deal, also where Carrie (Sissy Spacek) tells Miss Collins outside that she was invited to the prom and of course where the infamous prom takes places! Just the exteriors of the prom were filmed at this location - the interior was a massive set constructed for safety reasons because of all of the fire special effects, but this is where the iconic shot of Carrie covered in blood, walking from the burning gymnasium takes place! There will be music, silver stars, streamers, dancing, a prom photo backdrop with a blood bucket, a King & Queen costume contest and a glorious screening of Brian De Palma’s cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s groundbreaking first ever published novel, CARRIE! Fans are encouraged to dress up for the prom or in costume as your favorite character from the movie, but of course it's not required to attend. This is going to be an absolutely unforgettable experience for Carrie fans! ...here piggy piggy.

• Location: Hermosa Beach Community Center Gym - 710 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
• Date / Time: Saturday, July 30, 2022
- 5:00pm: Event check-in starts
- 5:00pm - 7:00pm: Music, dancing, prom photos
- 5:00pm - 7:00pm: William Katt autograph signing and meet & greet with fans
- 7:00pm: William Katt Q&A
- 7:30pm: King & Queen costume contest (winners get prizes, including William Katt signed item)
- 8:00pm: Screening of “CARRIE” (1976, Rated R - 1h 38m)
Facebook event page /
IMDb / Movie trailer

• Admission: $50.00 *** CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS ***

- AUTOGRAPH & SELFIE COMBO: $40 - 1 autograph (your item or his item) from William, 1 photograph (your camera) with William at table
- $40 for each additional autograph - you can get as many as you want!

Posted by Geoff at 7:37 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2022 7:45 PM CST
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Thursday, February 17, 2022

In his monthly column, "Let's Score Todd To Death," Fangoria's Todd Gilchrist includes a couple of paragraphs about Pino Donaggio's soundtrack for Brian De Palma's Carrie:
If you haven't yet wandered off from this Quentin Tarantino-OCD-party conversation crash course in film music's oddities and digressions, rest easy knowing that the last of this month's selections come from a real movie — and a bona fide classic at that. As always, Waxwork Records releases some of the best-produced soundtracks from the horror genre's top films, and its premier release of 2022 is Pino Donaggio's music for Brian De Palma's Carrie. Looking back at it, this score is essentially a dialectic between the romanticism of late '60s and early '70s horror composers like Morricone and Riz Ortolani and the emphatic suspense of the scores from '70s "prestige" (read: studio bankrolled) films like The Exorcist, The Omen and The Amityville Horror, where luminaries like Jerry Goldsmith and Lalo Schifrin offered their riffs on Bernard Herrman's music for the shower scene from Psycho. Some of it's too pretty for horror, and some of it's too simplistic for it (especially in 1976), but together it operates in the same referential way that De Palma's films do, for a simultaneously visceral and almost nostalgic effect.

Donaggio also composed a few goofier cues like "Calisthenics" or the halfhearted disco of "The Tuxedo Shop" that break up the sweet-scary rhythms of the rest of the score in a welcome way. Still, it's ones like "Carrie and Miss Collins" that so unforgettably underscore Carrie White's tragic, alienated journey, while "The Coronation / The Blood" is so vivid and operatic that you can see every swing of the camera as it follows that rope up to the rafters where a bucket of pig's blood waits to rain down on Carrie, unleashing the full intensity of her powers during the film's climax. Finally, some extra fake pop tune cues conclude the record. Versions of library music recorded deliberately as background or "source" music played not over the scene but inside them, whose AM-radio vibes manage to lull you into a state of calm and vulnerability that's unexpectedly, thrillingly broken by the brilliance of Donaggio's mastery of melody and mood. Of course, De Palma's film operates the exact same way, even before Carrie's hand juts out from beneath the rocks on her grave to grab Sue Snell; but the score for Carrie is a bit of an overshadowed classic, and like the other records listed here, revisiting or focusing more intensely on it offers multiple rewards.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Friday, February 18, 2022 12:04 AM CST
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Friday, January 21, 2022

As promised the other day, Waxwork Records made its newly re-mastered edition of Pino Donaggio's score for Carrie available for pre-order today. It turns out there is also a CD version available. Both will be shipping on February 4th. Here is the Waxwork Records description of the vinyl version:
Waxwork Records is thrilled to present CARRIE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Pino Donaggio! Expanded and re-mastered for its 45th anniversary, this deluxe double LP album marks the very first time that the complete film music has been released on vinyl. Carrie is a 1976 Horror film adapted from author Stephen King's very first published novel of the same name. The movie stars Sissy Spacek and is directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface, Phantom Of The Paradise).

The score by legendary composer Pino Donaggio (The Howling, Tourist Trap) skillfully captures the pressure of forced innocence, the humor of teen drama, and the trauma of coming of age as a girl in 1970’s America. The album also features the tracks “Born To Have It All” and “I Never Thought Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me” by Katie Irving.

CARRIE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features the expanded film music re-mastered and pressed to 180 gram "Prom Fire” colored vinyl, with new artwork by Phantom City Creative, and old-style tip-on gatefold jackets with matte satin coating.

CARRIE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Features:

The Expanded and Re-Mastered Soundtrack
180 Gram "Prom Fire" Colored Vinyl
New Artwork by Phantom City Creative
Deluxe Packaging
Old Style Tip-On Gatefold Jackets with Matte Satin Coating

Posted by Geoff at 7:51 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 21, 2022 7:55 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Waxwork Records posted the following announcement today, via Instagram:
Coming this Friday. CARRIE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2xLP by Pino Donaggio. This special 45th Anniversary album features the expanded soundtrack re-mastered and pressed to 180 gram “Prom Fire” colored vinyl, new art by @phantomcitycreative, and deluxe packaging! 🔥

Posted by Geoff at 11:46 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Last week, /Film's Miyako Pleines chose "5 Horror Movies We Think Should Have Won The Oscar For Best Picture." Along with Psycho, Jaws, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Hereditary, Pleines made an argument for Carrie:
This list, admittedly, has quite a few films from the '70s, but that's because the '70s were just such a damn good decade for horror! 1976 saw the release of Brian De Palma's wildly inventive "Carrie," based on the Stephen King book of the same name. It is a fantastic movie about a young girl with telekinetic powers who is eventually pushed to the breaking point by her unaccepting classmates. What makes "Carrie" so great is Sissy Spacek's performance as Carrie White and Piper Laurie's performance as her extremely devout mother. Spacek approaches the role of Carrie with the perfect blend of naïveté and a pitying desire to be accepted by her peers. You both loathe her and feel for her, a girl trapped in adolescence by her misguided, commandeering mother. Laurie is equally as riveting as Margaret White, commanding the camera's attention whenever she appears on screen. If not for the talents of these two actresses, "Carrie" would not be the masterpiece that it is; the Academy agreed, nominating them for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

However, one award the film did not receive an Oscar nomination for was Best Picture. That honor would go to films like "Rocky" and "Taxi Driver." It seems America wasn't quite ready to celebrate the emotional turmoil of a teenage girl, but if you ask me, it should have been. "Carrie" is a marvelous example of what can happen when a great book gets a great adaptation. It's also wonderful commentary on female adolescence and the horrors of being a teenager, and while most of us don't possess the ability to move things with our minds or make it rain stones, we do understand the cruel difficulties of growing up and going through high school. While Carrie the girl may have had a bucket of pig's blood dumped on her head at the prom, "Carrie" the movie is worthy of winning Prom Queen and escaping the stage crowned, celebrated, and entirely unscathed.

Posted by Geoff at 11:16 PM CST
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