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Monday, June 04, 2012


June is typically a month where old chapters close and new chapters open, and many celebrations are held during this month to commemorate this.  Whether you’re watching a couple exchanging wedding vows (June is reportedly one of the most popular months to get married), or getting a high school diploma, June can be a very busy month.

One activity that a lot of people are preparing for in June (or have already had) is the celebration known as the prom.  The event where teenage boys and girls rent their tuxedos and buy the perfect dress to dance the night away to mark the last few days of their high school career.  Whether the prom was held at a fancy hotel, a country club, or even the school gymnasium, it was an event that most people looked forward to.

Well, most people except me, that is.

I’m proud to say that I never went to my prom.  I skipped the event and chose to spend that night doing something else that I wanted to do instead.  The truth is that prom preparations can be overwhelming and stressful when they really needn’t be.  I’m not even talking about the stress that comes out of finding the perfect escort to bring either.  By the time you spend all that money on your clothes, your accessories, your make-up (well, for the ladies anyway), and not to mention the prom dinner if one is available, the prom can make your credit card go into severe traction.  When it came down to my prom, the cost just wasn’t worth me going.  It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, since I would have gone to the prom without a date anyway.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t regret skipping my prom at all.  I find it funny the way that some people take the prom way too seriously, as if they are going to be the social pariah of the whole school if they can’t find someone to take with them.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a dance.  There’s really not a whole lot of difference between the prom and the MuchMusic Video Dance Parties that you went to in the ninth grade.  The only difference is that the prom is more formal.  I mean, it’s not like you’re actually going to drop dead at the prom itself just because it doesn’t go the way you wanted it to.

Well, unless you were unfortunate enough to be in the same graduating class as Carietta White.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at “Carrie”, a film that was released on November 3, 1976.  The movie was made with a modest budget of just under two million dollars, and ended up making thirty-three million at the box office.  I would call that a great success, wouldn’t you say?

The cast of the movie was also mighty impressive.  Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, William Katt, Amy Irving, P.J. Soles, and Priscilla Pointer all starred in the film, which was directed by Brian De Palma.  Both Spacek and Laurie earned Academy Award nominations for their roles in the film.

A lot of you probably know this information already, but for those of you who don’t, the movie “Carrie” was inspired by the book of the same name by Stephen King.  Although not exactly an exact representation of the book (some character names were changed, as well as some plot details), the film “Carrie” is widely considered to be one of the best movie adaptations of any of Stephen King’s works. 

The book was Stephen King’s fourth novel written, but it was the first one of his works to be published.  He was living in a trailer in Hermon, Maine with his wife Tabitha at the time.  “Carrie” initially began as a short story, and King wrote the story on a portable typewriter (the same one he used to write “Misery”).  But after writing the iconic opening scene in which Carrie experiences her first period in the showers of the girls locker room, he was incredibly dissatisfied with the draft, and threw it out.

However, Tabitha was not happy with this move, and fished the crumpled up pages out of the bin.  She encouraged him to finish the story, and with her support, the story became the novel “Carrie”.  Long story short, Carrie ended up being a huge hit for King, and put his name out there in the literary world.

The movie was fantastic as well, and it certainly had lots of moments that kept you on the edge of your seat.

Carietta White (Spacek) is the poster child for a depressed high school student.  It was bad enough that the kids at her high school made fun of her and abused her for being the weird kid.  Carrie’s home life was just as horrific as the one she had at school.  Her mother Margaret (Laurie) is a Christian fundamentalist who believes that Carrie is damaged, and that she has committed sins, and frequently abuses her at home as well.

We certainly see this in action right at the very beginning of the film.  Remember that locker room scene that I was describing earlier?  The one that King thought was so terrible, he threw it away?  We get to see the scene unfold within the first few minutes of the movie.  Carrie ends up getting her first period inside the shower, and having a mother who is completely off her rocker, she never really learned about the menstruation cycle from anyone.  So, when a frantic Carrie runs out of the shower screaming that she is dying, the other girls are less than sympathetic, screaming insults at her while throwing tampons at her, Chris Hargensen (Allen) being the most viscious of the group.  It isn’t until the gym teacher, Miss Collins (in the book, she is known as Miss Desjardins) steps in to help that the rest of the girls back off.  During Miss Collins’ (Buckley) attempts to diffuse the situation, Carrie’s reaction to being bullied causes an overhead light to explode above them, the first evidence of Carrie’s telekinetic powers.

Miss Collins called Margaret White at home to inform her of the bullying incident inside the locker room, believing that she was doing a good deed, thinking that Carrie’s mother would be able to help her more than she could.  Of course, Miss Collins couldn’t possibly know just how insane Carrie’s mother really was, and when Carrie came home, her mother locked her inside a closet, forcing her to pray away the sins she committed.  Later that night, Carrie manages to shatter a bedroom mirror simply by staring at it, definitely proving to the viewer that Carrie has some serious powers that not even she understands.

The following day, Carrie is mocked yet again when she praises the poem of Tommy Ross (Katt), calling it beautiful.  This time, though, Carrie is stunned when Tommy defends Carrie to the rest of the class, slightly aggravated that the class thought so little of his poem.  Tommy’s girlfriend, Sue Snell (Irving) watches the scene unfold, and begins to feel incredible remorse over her part in the locker room incident.  Sue talks to Tommy, and convinces him to take Carrie to the prom.  Of course, when Tommy does offer up the invitation to Carrie, Carrie is naturally skeptical, thinking that it was yet another cruel joke.  But after a pep talk from Miss Collins, Carrie realizes that his intentions were genuine, and accepts his offer. 

Miss Collins actually does Carrie one better.  She gives the girls who took part in the locker room incident a week long detention, and threatens to suspend them from school if they don’t attend the detention.  To the girls credit, all of them serve their detention, and some even feel remorseful for their actions against Carrie.

Well, all except Chris Hargensen, who openly opposes being punished, and throws a fit, leading to Miss Collins striking Chris across the face (something that would likely put Miss Collins in jail had this been 2012), and Chris being banned from attending the prom.  A vengeful Chris soon has one thing on her mind...get revenge on both Carrie and Miss Collins.  She enlists the help of her boyfriend, Billy Nolan (Travolta) and a couple of friends to ruin the prom for Carrie.  Knowing that Tommy has asked Carrie to the prom, they scheme to stuff the ballot box to elect Tommy and Carrie prom king and queen.  Then, once the two of them are on stage, a bucket of pig’s blood would tip over, and drench poor Carrie.  To Chris, it was the ultimate act of revenge against the one girl she hated more than anybody else in the world.

On the flipside, Carrie is more than ecstatic to go to the prom with Tommy, even wearing a brand new white dress to the occasion.  But, Carrie’s mother believes that the prom is a celebration of sin, and she opposes Carrie attending the prom, even cruelly telling Carrie that the kids at the prom will all laugh at her.  But Carrie stands up to her mother, telling her that she is going to the prom whether she likes it or not.  As Carrie gets angrier, the windows in the house slam shut, and Margaret White soon realizes that her daughter has telekinesis, which frightens her to death.  But before Carrie’s mother can stop her, Carrie is already on her way to the prom.

At first, the prom is fantastic for Carrie.  Tommy treats Carrie the way that a man should treat his date, and Carrie seems to have a genuinely good time.  Although Sue manages to sneak into the prom to keep an eye on Tommy and Carrie, she is relieved to see that Carrie is enjoying herself.  Most of Carrie’s classmates are quite civil to her as well, and for the first time in her whole life, Carrie finally felt like she fit in.

Which makes the nasty trick that Chris and Billy pulled seem even more disgusting and cruel. 

Just as Chris and Billy planned, Carrie and Tommy won the vote for prom king and queen (thanks to their colleagues stuffing the ballot box), and Carrie proudly wore her crown and sash with a huge smile on her face.  But then this happened, and all hell broke loose.

In a devastating turn of events, Carrie’s anger over being made a fool in front of the entire school went into overdrive, and her telekinesis turned the Bates High School Gymnasium into a furnace, incinerating everyone who was unlucky enough to still be inside the gym, of which there was a lot, as Carrie mentally locked every way out of the school to trap everyone inside.

So, you’d think that was the end of the movie, wouldn’t you?  Think again.  The fire that eventually destroyed the school and the graduating class of Bates High was just the beginning.  By the end of the film, the prom disaster would have at least one survivor, who would be the only original cast member to appear in the 1999 sequel “The Rage: Carrie 2”.  Chris and Billy were watching the disaster unfold from outside, so clearly they were out of harm’s way.  But when Chris makes one last ditch effort to rid the world of Carrie, will all go to plan?  And then there’s Carrie’s mother.  How do you think she’ll feel about what Carrie ended up doing at the prom?  It’s a confrontation that you cannot miss.

You know, by all accounts, Carrie White was what everyone believed her to be.  She was quite the unusual girl.  And it’s easy to dismiss her as being evil...after all, she charbroiled her classmates at the prom.  But was she truly bad to the bone?  I don’t think so.  I think that had her classmates, teachers, and her own family treated her with respect and friendliness from the very beginning, then perhaps this whole situation could have been avoided.  All Carrie wanted was to have someone in her corner, who believed in her, and who wanted genuine friendship with her.  And, although she only had it for a few moments, she did have that with Tommy (and Sue to a lesser extent), and I’m sure that before everything went to hell in a handbasket, those moments meant the world to her.

I’m certainly not saying that if you treat someone with cruelty that they’re going to burn down your house with you inside of it.  But, when it comes to the choice of treating someone with respect, and treating someone like dirt, doesn’t the first choice just seem more appealing?

Just something to ponder this Monday.

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