Telekinesis is the power to move objects with one's mind and to overheat the registers at the box office. Director Brian De Palma horned in on George Lucas' casting call for Star Wars in hopes of also finding unknown actors for a horror picture called Carrie based on the novel by Stephen King (then largely unknown himself). And curiously, BOTH blockbuster films would feature the supernatural power -- Star Wars with its mysterious Jedi and Carrie with its mousy waif of a girl who desperately wants to be normal, yet is anything but.
The special edition Carrie re-release marks an excellent time to revisit the classic film and its woefully under-appreciated sequel The Rage: Carrie 2, plus De Palma's OTHER telekinesis flick, The Fury. This latest Carrie disc dispenses with the traditional commentary track in favor of about two hours of documentaries: "Acting Carrie" and "Visualizing Carrie." Both are fantastic and feature interviews with De Palma and the principal cast and crew. While The Rage plays by the book with a commentary by director Katt Shea and roughly 10 minutes of deleted scenes. Each disc features motion-video menus with audio. Sadly, The Fury merely whimpers with a few trailers.
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is the terminally uncool and naive daughter of a man-hating religious zealot (Piper Laurie) who feels she's failed as a mother when her teen-age daughter is first visited by Eve's curse of blood. No, Carrie won't be riding horseback, or frolicking on the beach, while being sold on the wonders of the latest feminine hygiene product. Instead, she has all manner of them hurled at her by a horde of howling girls, while she's entirely certain she's about to bleed to death. What's worse, mommy locks her in a creepy prayer closet to repent for all those SINFUL thoughts she must have been having to be visited with the curse. The entire world conspires to oppress meek little Carrie, but deep down she harbors a rage which manifests itself through the supernatural power of telekinesis. She flings an astray into the air with her mind when the high school principal can't remember her name and even knocks a punk kid off his bicycle just for TEASING her. Don't buy into the Cinderella ruse, folks, this is one tough little broad. Meanwhile, the snottiest slut on campus (Nancy Allen) hates Carrie SO MUCH that she strings together a fiendish prank at the "Love Among The Stars" prom that winds up ruining everyone's evening -- permanently.
Notables: 12 breasts. 77 corpses. Cutlery crucifixion. Bitch slapping. Slow-mo shower scene. Imploding house. Blatant gum chewing. Bucket to the head. Gratuitous calisthenics. Sledgehammer pig slaughtering. High-speed car crash with explosion. Possessed firehouse. Chipmunk talking. Butcher knife to the back. One novelty tuxedo T-shirt.
Quotables: The girls taunt a confused, frightened and menstruating Carrie, "Plug it up! Plug it up! Plug it up!" Did swine harbor fears about nuclear war?, "Piggy! I'm gonna bash your little heads in and you don't have to worry about the bomb no more." Mrs. White on skin care, "Pimples are the Lord's way of chastising you." Carrie's a liberated woman, "Breasts, mamma. They're called breasts, and every woman has them."
Time codes: First display of supernatural power (6:08). Mirror, mirror on the wall (17:40). Telekinesis defined (29:00). De Palma's future wife savours a Sweathog (35:10). The flick's most famous line (54:30). Puke-inducing Tilt-A-Whirl dance sequence (1:03:20). All hell breaks loose (1:17:20).
De Palma builds on the success of Carrie by merging its supernatural twist with a spy-world thriller like Three Days of the Condor. Screen legend Kirk Douglas is a retired spook whose son (Andrew Stevens) is kidnapped by a shady government outfit who hope to exploit the young man's ability to move stuff with his mind. Carrie's Amy Irving plays a teen with oddly familiar skills, but with the annoying side effect of making folks bleed like stuck pigs when she's having one of her psychic fits. Spartacus is determined to find his missing son and has various cat-and-mouse adventures before he finally hooks up with Carrie II, who just happens to have been having technicolor day dreams about his son and CAN'T WAIT to meet him. Once again, a seemingly conventional story leaps off the tracks into a bizarro world featuring a chick whirling around like a lawn sprinkler -- showering the walls with blood -- punctuated by an explosive jaw-dropper of an ending. CineSchlockers will remember Mr. Stevens from his franchise role in the Night Eyes films where he starred with B-siren Shannon Tweed in Part 2 and 3, but she played DIFFERENT crazed sex kittens. Kinky, huh?
Notables: No breasts. 24 corpses. Father/son wrestling on the beach. Pole vaulting. Bitch slapping. One machine gun battle. Dog attack.
Quotables: This babe was way ahead of former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, "Good Lord, Pam. If you're that nervous, why don't you masturbate." Douglas issues a now trite spy-flick retort, "I worked for a government agency you've never heard of." Gillian emotes, "YOU GO TO HELL!!!"
Time codes: De Palma's camera lingers on Ms. Irving's bikini-clad hiney (9:10). Ultra-subtle definition of telekinesis (17:30). Dennis Franz of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" about four too many Emmy awards ago (25:34). Get a load of these state-of-the-art video games (45:25). Where those acting classes really pay off (1:05:08). The only real reason to see this one (1:54:12).
In search of female-friendly horror in the pop-slasher era, Hollywood re-taps the telekinesis well with a return to the community where Carrie deep-fried the prom sum 20 years ago. Rachel Lang is an edgy, self-aware gRRRl (aptly portrayed by Emily Bergl) who has been passed around foster homes after her religious zealot momma got carted off to the funny farm for painting the living room red while ranting about little Rachel being possessed. Of course, life doesn't get any easier in high school. Her best gal pal (Mena Suvari) leaps off a building after giving up her virginity to Zachery Ty Bryan of TV's "Home Improvement." Her dog gets run over. Football thugs threaten to do TERRIBLE things to her if she reveals the truth about her friend's death. But, wait, LOVE is in the air in the form of a dashing gridiron star (Jason London) who thinks Shirley Manson of Garbage rules just as much as she does. Peppered throughout the winding plot are various displays of psychic destruction that draw the attention of the school counselor -- the original film's Sue Snell (Amy Irving, again) -- who worries Rachel may be another Carrie White itching to go postal. But Rachel resents Snell's meddling as it only takes valuable time away from her budding romance. It's this dalliance that ultimately blinds her to a cruel deception and unintentionally repeats history in disastrous detail.
Quotables: Sex Pistols fan parrots, "Love is 15 seconds of squishing noises." Tool Man Tim Taylor's boy is a selfish little bugger, "If all this gets out -- sex and suicide!? Come on, man! Catholic schools frown on that s@#%! If I don't get into a good school, my dad's gonna kill me!" Rachel on her grim persona, "Sometimes I really wish I could just be one of the shiny happy people." And on Carrie lore, "Supposedly she set the fire as some type of revenge/suicide thing. Elvis was her date and they escaped in a UFO." One of Rachel's extra-crispy victims cries, "SOMEBODY PUT ME OUT!!!"
Time codes: First sign of supernatural power (4:12). Freeze-frame for the lurid Rules of The Game (8:15). Ms. Suvari swan dives from the roof into a car windshield below (12:45). First of about five gratuitous flashbacks to the original film (22:22). Scream telephone spoof (41:05). The origins of Carrie White and Rachel Lang (54:42). The "They're All Gonna Laugh At You" dance mix (1:25:40).
Tale O' Premenstrual Mayhem
Total body count
Seventy six -- mostly by fire
Only one -- by psychic TNT
Twenty nine -- mostly by fire
Duration of climatic hissy fit
Three minutes, twenty seconds
One minute, forty seconds
Six minutes, fifteen seconds.
Kindly do-gooder killed for her trouble
Carrie crushes gym coach with falling debris
Friend accidentally clobbered by runaway sedan
Rachel brains counselor with fireplace poker
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!"
Selfishly jets off to Europe
"The devil's in you!"
Naive obsession with strapping young buck
Chaste smooch with Tommy Ross at prom
Sadly, only becomes Robin's psychic "friend"
Coaxed into womanhood by Jesse Ryan
Must-see DVD extra
Saga of raining stones in "Visualizing Carrie"
Nada. Zilch. Zero.
Original snake down the gullet ending -- a CGI disaster.