With the opening of “Carrie,” we see a brutal horror unfold with main character the titular Carrie White taking a shower during gym class and discovering the horror of her first period. She’s a girl who’s never really been given an explanation on anatomy or biology thanks to her religiously fanatical mother, and is terrified. Sadly the predators in her class that revel in bullying Carrie torment her by throwing tampons and towels at her as she screams. While the scene itself is jarring and the epitome of the cruelty Carrie inexplicably receives, it’s also the implication that ultimate evil has been realized. Though it’s mostly hinted at by Carrie’s mother, Carrie, despite being a good person at heart, is also pure evil personified.
There’s been a lot of talk about movie anniversaries this year, but two of the movies that have been left out of the discussion are two of my childhood favorites. There’s the 1995 teen drama “Angus,” and the 1980 “My Bodyguard.” Oddly enough, both films deal with the idea of coming of age, surviving high school, and learning to deal with a specific kind of bully. Both films also confront the idea that sometimes staring down the bullies is a right of passage we all must confront at one time or another. And yet, both films have been off the radar for a very long time.
It’s surprising how “Three O’ Clock High” is about much more than a kid who gets himself in deep with a bully in high school. Deep down while it’s definitely a dark comedy about high school, it’s also about facing your problems. What “Three O’ Clock High” is ultimately about is that bad day that everyone has, and that horrific revelation that if something bad is going to happen to you, it’s going to happen to you, and most times you can really do nothing but try to get through the storm as neatly as possible.
If there’s anything I can say about the remake of “Carrie” is that it’s at least better than the 2002 version. It’s more focused and sleeker. I remember reading on many articles that director Kimberly Pierce was planning to deliver a new and dynamic version of Stephen King’s “Carrie” that differed greatly from Brian DePalma’s iconic horror masterpiece. I’d love to know what happened during the entire development of this film because watching it, all I saw were callbacks to the original DePalma movie. Surely, there’s the addition of the internet and a small riff on cyber bullying but it’s really just a riff on DePalma’s film.
If you think the issue of bullying in America has been widely overblown, then you’ve never been bullied properly. I don’t mean mocked for having weird hair or glasses, I mean viciously bullied. Violently bullied. I spent three years of my life being bullied and humiliated relentlessly to the point where I swore to bring a knife in to my school. More on that later. Not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who’ll talk them down for a few hours. But then often times, kids do have wonderful parents that can’t hope to understand what they’re enduring, and the violence occurs in the same frequency.
Upon first glance, you’d think Brian DePalma directing a Stephen King Adaptation would be something disastrous. DePalma has spent most of his early career emulating Hitchcock, and delivering cerebral gems like “Sisters.” It’s a treat though that he ends up becoming one of the most crucial elements of “Carrie” and its adaptation. Because what the director can’t convey through special effects, he conveys through some amazing camera work and editing that still wows me to this day. “Carrie” is easily one of the best horror films, and revenge films ever made. It’s a brilliantly cast and deeply tragic story of a girl whose powers became the judgment day for many cruel individuals who preyed on the innocent.
It’s a remake! It’s a sequel! It’s a remake! It’s a sequel! No, it’s an homage! Who knows what “The Rage: Carrie 2” is. Like most “sequels” in the late nineties and early aughts, I imagine this was originally just called “The Rage,” and the studios decided to plug in a lot of continuity from Brian DePalma’s “Carrie.” A few quick fixes, and voila! We have a sequel to “Carrie” that no one wanted. “Carrie 2” is actually a solid dramatic thriller when all is said and done, the problem is it’s really not necessary. We don’t need to know what happened once Carrie White destroyed her entire student body.
Back in the early aughts, remake fever was hitting pop culture like a mad rush, and even major television networks were getting in on remaking classic horror films. From “Helter Skelter,” to “Salem’s Lot,” no classic horror movie was off limits. 2002’s “Carrie” doesn’t just remake the Briand DePalma movie for a contemporary audience, but attempts to spin the entire story in to a potential television series for NBC. I’m not too sure what direction they would have taken Carrie in her own series. Perhaps she’d be an anti-hero, or someone who helped other troubled supernatural beings while traveling on the road with Sue Snell. Who knows?