Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

A little bit late so I apologise but it is finally time to discuss the end of the Carrie Saga with the novel which started it all, the book was released in 1974 and was the first published story by Horror writer Stephen King, it sold tremendously well after the first movie adaptation in 1976 and is known to be one of the most banned books in schools due to its violence, underage sex and the use of fowl language and drug use. I will also point out here the use of racism which would be frowned upon today I wont say what the racism was but its context was used to describe how fat someone’s lip was after being punched so you can figure that one out for yourselves!. Times were different when the book was written so while it its still isn’t right we wont be criticising King or the publishers over it.

We are comparing this to the adaptations I have reviewed so there will be heavy spoilers !

Carrie White is a very unfortunate person, she is overweight, covered in spots and is bullied relentlessly by the other girls in her school, in a very famous scene she has her first period (very late) and freaks out while naked in the girls locker room, Chris Hargensen the schools Queen Bee gets all of the other girls to join her in mocking Carrie “Plug it up” they all shout as they begin to pelt the poor child with female sanitary products laughing and cruelly mocking her before they are stopped by the Gym Teacher Miss Desjardin.

This bullying is an everyday occurrence for Carrie and she never gets a break after school she has to face her over religious mother Margaret White who forces her to pray and abuses her power by locking Carrie in a cupboard when she thinks she has sinned, the period is one of these moments as her mother believes that she has turned away from God and committed sexual acts, tasting the forbidden fruit similar to the story of Adam and Eve.

The relentless bullying and abuse causes Carrie to become emotionally distraught eventually leading her to discover a Telekinetic ability she has had passed down from her father, her mother knew about her powers from birth and resents Carrie as she believes she is a curse from God after she committed adultery by having sex before marriage.

Margaret Whites character is given some backstory in the book being outcast by her family due to her intense religious views, she is also described as much older in the book and as we have discussed previously is killed by Carrie stopping her heart. The way this particular murder is written is actually quite creepy with Carrie whispering that she will send her to the darkness to be judged by whatever God she finds there.

Carries powers are explored in more detail in the book including a scene where as a little girl she causes giant rocks to fall from the sky destroying her family home, this was shown in the 2002 TV movie as well which I will give that adaptation some credit for even though I really didn’t enjoy it.

Speaking of characters I wasn’t huge on Sue Snell in the book, there isn’t many differences between her role in the films and the book but in the novel she is definitely a little bit more self-centered and while she is the only girl to feel bad about how she treated Carrie there is definitely a vibe that she only sent Tommy to take Carrie to prom to ease her guilt more than to make Carrie feel less like an outcast.

The prom massacre in this is actually quite quick and a little disappointing considering that she kills almost everyone by electrocution and finishing off the remaining few by setting the building on fire.

Chris Hargensen and Billy’s death is much more satisfying in this similar to the 2013 film the car is lifted from the ground and flung into a building (the road house hotel) and blown to smithereens, both characters in the book are pure evil Billy is a real bastard who beats Chris and even tries to rape her at one point, Chris is known to be quite the psychopathic bully and not only to Carrie, it is mentioned in the book that she once hid a fire cracker in another students show blowing off two of her toes and she only got out of any legal trouble thanks to her fathers position as a very well respected lawyer.

Chris and Billy actually fill two buckets with blood in the book and one is meant for Tommy Ross who neither have any problems with so they only really did this for no reason at all just going to further show how neither of them care for anyone and are just very sickening individuals.

The books ending sees Sue Snell finding Carrie White dying and she holds Carrie in her arms as she takes her final breath, I really liked that the book continued after this to show how the events affected the town having a lot of the store owners taking out insurance claims to give up their shops and the local bar becoming quiet as the town folks are all shaken up after the events of the massacre.

The book also uses a lot of character interviews through police investigations which was a nice touch and it also has chapters from the perspective of other characters such as Sue and Chris.

I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down, it is a very easy read due to Kings writing style and how he doesn’t focus on many unnecessary elements, he is telling the story of the events of Prom Night and does an excellent job of documenting this while keeping readers engaged and wanting more.

I have come to the conclusion that the closest adaptation is the 2002 TV movie, it has the most parts from the book but doesn’t offer too much more compared to the 2013 film and we all know which of those I would recommend.

The original 1976 film is still the best way to watch Carrie which is odd because compared to all three movies and the musical it is actually the least accurate with its story telling, my recommendation would definitely be to read the book as it is very good and then watch the 1976 version as that holds up very well on its own and is genuinely an excellent Horror Movie.

I am very eager for some more Stephen King so the next book I will be reviewing is his second novel Salem’s Lot so please look forward to that.

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They made a Carrie Musical?

No I’m not joking they really did try to adapt Carrie into a Broadway Musical and it failed hard.

Inspired by the opera Lulu, Lawrence D. Cohen the original writer of the 1976 movie worked with Michael Gore to adapt his original film script into a musical format. The Musicals went through tons of rewrites before finally hitting the stage in 1988.

The musical was a mess to say the least during multiple Stratford shows technical errors completely ruined the experience for the actors and audiences, Linzi Hateley’s microphone would malfunction because of the blood during the prom massacre, Barbara Cook was almost decapitated by a set piece in the White house living room and multiple songs had to be removed or rewritten before its Broadway release.

During its broadway run Betty Buckley who played the gym teacher in the 1976 film joined the cast. Even after the changes were made the musical was hit with mixed reviews, during the curtain call some actors got booed but standing ovations were given to Linzi Hateley and Betty Buckley who played Carrie and Margaret White. Even with fully sold out shows the financial backers pulled out after only 16 previews and 5 performances, the show cost more the 7 million dollars and is now forever known as one of the biggest f*ck ups in broadway history.

The show did get various re productions over the years although with a much smaller budget but it never hit broadway again and unless you are a lover of the theatre most people still don’t realise that this even existed.

So here’s a special treat, I’ve only managed to find a copy of the original Stratford recording on YouTube and best part is it’s the one were the blood clogs the microphone!

So without further ado please join me in watching the original Carrie the Musical

I apologize for the video quality due to this being recorded in 1988, but it is really cool that we got to watch this version and to be honest I really enjoyed the show and I don’t really understand what the big deal is?

The show is a lot of fun and has a great cast that all give off heartfelt and emotional performances, the highlight of the show was definitely the relationship between Carrie and Margaret White, of course unlike most media domestic and emotional abuse is quite hard to portray in a musical, but as the two duet the atmosphere is hauntingly beautiful and at times will chill you to the bone.

The rest of show is pretty high pace and loud, I think this might be one of the biggest issues regardless I really enjoyed the show but I think the majority of it is maybe a tad too energetic for this story, it doesn’t feel right and is out of place in a sad tale such as this. The majority of musical numbers are a good listen but are also forgettable and don’t have you looking them up on music providers afterwards.

The outfits are also quite bland and forgettable none stand out enough to leave an impact. The choreography is wild and a little bit too in your face at times but is one of the more memorable directorial choices, the acts between Chris and Billy are where this really shines like a sadistic ballet, its sexual, sensual and absolutely brilliant.

The grand finale of the show was a little lacking but that was to be expected on stage compared to film, the prom night massacre happens under a red light with very little visibility and is over very fast, the final act is all a bit disappointing but overall the show was pretty good and I wouldn’t mind seeing the original version re-designed and updated, I see a lot of potential in this show and it is a shame that it never worked out, I’ve seen worse shows than this and those were successful which only leaves me forever puzzled with this production and the negative response it garnered.

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The Carrie Remakes 2002 Vs 2013

Well here we go back to the original story and this a back to back review of both Carrie Remakes starting with the 2002 TV movie directed by David Carson and starring Angela Bessis in the title role.

The movie uses police interviews after the events of the massacre, I have been told that this is very similar to the book but we will find that out when I read it.

The movie is pretty weird in areas there is a flash back scene where a younger Carrie causes meteorites to fall from the sky and attack her mother’s house and the effects are pretty awful as to be expected on a low budget TV film, I am assuming this is in the book as it would probably come across as less silly on paper, another interesting fact about this scene is that it was originally meant to be in the 1976 film but was cut.

The opening credits also used the meteorites CGI so the developers must have been quite proud of the effect. One CGI choice I did like however was the furniture floating around Carrie as she anxiously waited for Tommy to pick her up for the prom, it helped to portray her feelings during this buildup and was just a nice to touch in general.

Alongside the bad effects the movie is riddled with bad acting performances, the majority of the cast seem bored when delivering their lines and when they do try to portray more emotional dialogue most of the time it comes across as forced.

The movie takes place in modern 2002 so internet, computers, CCTV and mobile phones are seen and used throughout the film, a nice choice in my opinion as it helps the movie differentiate itself from the original.

Our two main baddies Chris and Billy are this time played by Emilie de Ravin and Jesse Cadotte, de Ravin does a decent job but Cadotte’s version of Billy was just a little bit psychotic for me he gave a very over the top performance which in parts reminded me of Jared Leto’s abysmal attempt at the Joker.

A performance I did actually enjoy in the movie was the portrayal of Margaret White. This time around played by actress Patricia Clarkson who did a fantastic job of the overbearing mother without chewing the scenery too much and while she is not as good as in the 1976 movie I feel she needs some credit here.

I’m on two pages when it comes to the prom massacre in this movie, some parts are actually quite creative, I enjoyed director choices such as having Carrie move the water away from herself when she electrocuted the gymnasium, also shots of people trying to escape in various ways was a great choice, we had people trying to break though windows, climbing up ropes and even trying to crawl through the ventilation system although none of this really worked, apart from this the kills were quite uninspired and happened way too quickly, apart from one or two people everyone died from electrocution. It didn’t help that Angela Bessis couldn’t pull off the fear factor in her facial expressions and again just looked a bit bored a major issue throughout the majority of this adaptation

I loved that Carrie continued after the prom to massacre the entire town even though the effects were really bad it was nice to see her destruction continue further on from what seen in the original film. Also Chris and Billys death is much more satisfying by having them crushed to death with the car being wrapped around a tree.

Overall I didn’t like this one too much but as I mentioned it does have some good qualities especially in its creativity and story telling and it’s just a shame about how boring the film is before that final massacre but from my research a lot of major fans of Kings work prefer this version overall. In the end of the movie Carrie actually survives as this was meant to lead into a TV series but due to bad ratings that never happened and to be honest I’m glad to just move into the 2013 remake to see how that holds up. There has been word on the street that a new Carrie mini series is in the works so we can discuss that when and if it ever happens

2013 gave us the most recent film adaptation of Carrie and this time starring actress Chloe Grace Moretz.

I won’t go over much of the plot here as unfortunately this version doesn’t offer much new material that we haven’t seen in the 1976 and 2002 movies and while that isn’t a bad thing it does make the film kinda pointless.

Carries birth is worth mentioning as a great opening scene with Margaret White, this time played by Julianne Moor attempting to stab the newborn with scissors of course she fails but it is left up to the audience to decide whether this was a change of heart or baby Carrie using her telekinesis.

Moretz is far to pretty to play Carrie White in my opinion and while I do really admire her as an actress she doesn’t do too well in this, she does come across as bit of an outcast but her performance wasn’t genuine enough for me to consider it one of her best.

Moretz and Moor to work really well together in this film mostly due to changes made to Margaret Whites character, in this version she isn’t so crazy and abusive towards Carrie but has genuine love for her and does show that she cares. She does still lock her In the closet and blame her period on Sin so the warped religious views are still present but in much less violent ways.

Speaking of good duo’s the characters of Sue and Tommy are a great mix here as well, this was the only movie to really show more of their relationship on screen, there is a wonderful moment when the two are discussing how bad Sue feels after she mistreated Carrie White and Tommy goes on to explain how he was horrible to someone once to try and make her feel better. In fact it’s actually Tommy in this movie who convinces Sue that she should try and make it up to Carrie since Carrie had never done anything bad to deserve how she was treated .

I have mixed feelings on Chris and Billy in this movie and when you look past the over the top sadistic qualities in the characters there isn’t much left that stands out. Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell give much more villainous portrayals of the characters especially Chris who has the stomach to slice open the pigs throat and actively encourages Billy to try and kill Carrie White before both characters demise but apart from this there isn’t much to differentiate them from other versions of the characters and they are quickly forgettable especially when compared with the superior 1976 movie.

One thing I can say that the 2013 version does better overall is the final prom night massacre. This whole sequence which was a mixture of CGI and physical effects is fantastic, the kills are more creative and it shows Carrie White as more in control of her powers especially when she chooses to save the gym teacher and of course Sue Snell right at then end of the movie.

The kills are some of best we have seen in the Carrie movies having people crushed by bleachers, Tina Blake catching on fire and of course the amazing kill of Chris and Billy which has Carrie crack open the road, Smash Billy’s face into the steering wheel and lift up the car before dropping it and sending Chris flying into a gas station which traps her face in the broken glass of the windscreen before blowing up the gas tanks for good measure!

Carrie 2013 is a very similar adaptation to the original film and apart from a few changes especially in its characters and finale it is definitely an unnecessary money grabbing remake. I did however really enjoy the movie, the actors all did a great job and in some areas I actually prefer this one, the kills are more satisfying and the relationships seem more realistic, even though I haven’t read the book yet I am well aware that the 2002 version is the most accurate adaptation of the original story and for a lot of people that why they vastly prefer that film over both of the others but for me 2013 is definitely the better remake if not simply because I never got bored with it and I would quite happily watch it again, it wasn’t a masterpiece but it did a decent job and could have been a fantastic piece of cinema if they remade the TV movie to give us a more enjoyable adaptation that had more in common with Kings book.

I would still choose the 1976 film with Sissy Spacek over both movies but if I had to re-watch a remake for me its 2013 all the way.

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Carrie (1976) Review

Welcome to my first ever Stephen King deep dive, over the next few weeks we will be discussing his first story Carrie by reviewing the original movie, the films sequel, the two remakes, the failed Broadway musical and finally the original novel!.

The only version I won’t be discussing is the Riverdale Special as I have never seen the show and if I do ever watch and review the series I will discuss that version then.

I am going to begin this series starting with the first adaptation of the novel and ending on a review of said book this will allow me to actually read through the story but also to have lots of material to look back on when I review it and to have a better picture of how accurate the various versions are to Kings.

This is the first film adaptation of any of Kings books it was released only two years after the original publication and is actually the preferred version of the story by King, in fact he actually has started that he thinks that it is better than his novel.

The film really is excellent mainly due to its cast and the directors decisions for specific camera shots and realistic effects

Carrie was portrayed by Sissy Spasek who had to be convinced to go for the role by her husband, another prominent actress in the film Amy Irving was originally chosen but was swapped with Sissy Spasek who was more comfortable with being naked on camera. She is also terrifying at the end of the movie when she gets her revenge.

Irving was instead given the role of Sue Snell originally a bully of Carrie who sees remorse in her actions and tries to make up for it by asking her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom.

In the movie Carrie is portrayed as a shy girl who hasn’t been made ready for the real world, the scene where she gets her first period and doesn’t know what it is and panics thinking that she is being punished by god is very well done, it gets us rooting for Carrie in the films closing moments due to how the girls treated her in that scene.

The main villains in the movie are Chris and Billy played by Nancy Allen and John Travolta in his first major film role. These guys are pure evil and while the other girls are also really horrible it’s Chris that is the main leader who sets up the awful plan to drench Carrie in the pig blood during the Prom, Billy plays along and actually beats a pig to death to get the blood which is really messed up and leaves viewers with no remorse for these characters when Carrie fights back.

Carries mother is a religious nut played by Piper Laurie, she has brought Carrie up with Bible and has forced her to pray and obey the laws of god, one of the main reasons she does this is actually due to a fear of her daughter becoming evil, Carrie was born with the ability of telekinesis a power to move things with her mind. These powers only really come out when Carrie is in an emotional state of mind so in her mother’s eyes shielding Carrie from sin is the best way to help prevent Carrie from going to hell.

The movie is really good and while at times it can seem a little bit silly in its premise, it manages to maintain a serious tone and leave a feeling of uneasiness and chills.

There really isn’t much I can criticize with this one, I would say I wish the school was portrayed a little more alive, perhaps with more background actors to help fill the scenes as it does seem rather small for what is meant to be a High School but apart from that this is a perfect horror film in my eyes and if you haven’t seen it or are a fan of pychological horror then Carrie from 1976 is definitely a movie to check out!

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Pet Sematary 1989 Review

Spooky Season is finally here and this year I have no theme, instead I am going to be discussing various horror movies and if I get time a game or two, the first film I want to take a look at is the 1989 film Pet Sematary.

Directed by Mary Lambert and with a screenplay by the books original author Stephen King, Pet Semetary is a movie that after watching I can’t seem to keep off my mind due to its creepy nature.

The Creed family Louis, his wife Rachel and their two children Ellie and Gage are moving to Maine so that Louis can accept his new job as a Physician in the local university.

Upon arriving the dangerous main road with fast lorry drivers passing regularly is shown to be a serious issue, the one neighbour Jud, a kind old man from across the street warns the Creed family to keep an eye on the cat Church as many animals have been killed in the road causing a massive Pet Sematary to built just behind their new home.

Jud takes the family to this sematary and begins explaining to Ellie about death but Rachel reacts negatively to this due to how she witnessed her disabled sister Zelda choking to death after Rachel decided to not help her, Rachel still has PTSD for this and feels guilty for letting her sister die.

When the family cat Church is hit by a truck and dies, Jud takes Louis to bury the cat in an ancient Indian burial ground, everything that is buried here comes back to life which is proven true when Church walks back to the house although seeming a little bit grumpier.

With the burial ground being the main cause of misery in this film then you can technically call this a zombie flick and its one not to disappoint in its creepiness.

The comic relief of the film is the spirit of a young man named Victor Pascal, Louis was a jogger who was killed during his run, before he dies he warns Louis about the pet sematary and even calls him by name even though they have never met.

Throughout the film his ghost comes to Louis and his family multiple times to try and prevent the inevitable but his efforts end up being in vain.

If you thought the death of a cat would be the only major loss in this film then I am afraid that what comes next is truly bone chilling. The family toddler Gage is eventually the next victim of the busy road and after Jud’s many warnings that humans should never be buried in the Pet Sematary and even telling a horrifying tale of a young man who was brought back as a monster, Louis lets his grief get the better of him and he buries Gage hoping to see his son again.

Gage is the second antagonist of the movie after Church the cat although he is most definitely much more dangerous, he is the part of the movie that has stuck with me for so long, I think its the creepy taunts in his childlike voice and the part where he walks with the cane while giggling just gives me the shivers every time I see it ! This is probably the most memorable part of the film but I think that it is also in part that the majority of cast performances are not really that great, its not bad or anything but the main family is quite boring to watch but Brad Greenquist and Fred Gwynne who played Pascal and Jud were very good in their respective roles. Brad was a lot of fun as the comic relief and took a little bit of the edge away from this very dark tale, Fred Gwynne has a very grandfatherly nature to him in this and I very quickly recognised him from his work on the Munster’s playing Herman Munster.

Worth mentioning is the opening of the film, it perfectly sets up the film that comes after it, with the chilling child choir mixed in with the final words children said to their dead pets is actually a good message that saying goodbye should be goodbye, a lesson clearly not learned by Louis Creed who eventually sets up his own demise by not following the rules of life.

Pet Sematary is a pretty messed up movie with an extremely dark premise that I think some people will find a little bit too much at times. I would however recommend it if you enjoy movies with a creepy atmosphere or if you want to see a Stephen King movie as this is one of the better ones in my opinion.

After seeing this I do want to check out the book one day just see if it is just as eerie on paper.

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