Friday, October 18, 2013


Every horrorhound's favorite month is upon us, and to celebrate, I'll be dishing out a personal pick from the genre for every day in October. Some will be obvious and rather unoriginal (sorry that I like movies other people like), while some will be a little more oddball and off-the-wall. Some may even challenge your idea of what constitutes a "horror" movie. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the month with some good movies, even if they aren't ones I recommend!

Today's Pick: Carrie (1976)

As of this writing, I haven't seen the new version of Carrie (out today!), directed by the truly talented Kimberly Peirce. I can't speak of its merits or faults, but even if it does wind up being a good or even great film, I can assure you that it will never reach the kind of status that the original 1976 adaptation by Brian DePalma has. Not only is DePalma's film one of the best American horror films ever made, it's also one of the best films to come out of the last great Hollywood renaissance of the 1970's. While Carrie 2013 might be a great film, it won't be a true classic like the initial version.

The story is about a teenage girl (Sissy Spacek) who is the social outcast of her school. After being tortured by the rest of the girls in her gym class, she starts to discover that she has telekinetic abilities. When she gets asked to the prom by the high school quarterback (William Katt), she has to contend with her religious zealot of a mother (Piper Laurie), all the while unaware that one her classmates (Nancy Allen) is planning a cruel prank that will end up unleashing Carrie's inner powers.

Carrie is an undisputed masterpiece, not only in the horror realm, but maybe even more so as a coming-of-age story. The ostracizing Carrie is subjected to immediately clicks with anyone who was even the list bit unpopular during their teenage years, and Spacek's performance and look captures that incredibly. While her beautiful side is brought out by the time prom comes, she still maintains this simplicity and reality to her appearance and demeanor. You knew a Carrie White when you went to school, and you probably weren't very nice to her. It's this believable nature that makes Spacek's portrayal all the more engaging. Piper Laurie is equally stunning in a different way. Her extremely damaged psyche and the way she abuses her daughter both physically and mentally are the real horrors of the picture, and Laurie sells it with the most disturbing of convictions.

While the actors are amazing across the board, there are other stars to be praised. Brian DePalma (who has made an appearance on this list already) continues to hone his visual prowess and does so with beautiful artistry. His experimentation with focus and split-screen make for an aesthetic that is uniquely his own, and Carrie might be one of his best. Pino Donaggio's score deserves accolades as well, managing to balance a warmth and innocence with interjections of shrieking terror. His main theme is incredibly sad, and that's something to remember about the film. While it's billed as a horror film, most of the supernatural stuff doesn't happen until the end. The rest is great character work and a relatable story about what it's like during the most awkward and awful time of your life: being a teenager.

Again, I can neither praise nor deride the new version of this story (although I'll assuredly be reviewing it on this site once I do get around to seeing it), but no matter where it falls on the spectrum of quality, it can't possibly tarnish the original's fantastic luster. This is an important and incredibly influential film, and nothing will ever change that. Pull up your Netflix Instant Watch and do yourself a favor by watching this absolute classic.

Tomorrow's movie will feature one of the greatest actors in all of horror history. The guy's an icon, and as Horror Movie A Day's Brian Collins has said, "If you go all October without watching one of [his] movies, you're doing something wrong." See you then!

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