Sunday, October 26, 2008

Carrie




This is Brian DePalma's movie adaptation of the #1 best selling novel by renowned author Stephen King. In fact, Carrie is the first book that King ever had published. Actually we have his beloved with Tabitha to thank for the saving of this masterpiece. You see, during the course of writing his first novel, King had no confidence in his abilities as a writer. Believing that it was a badly failed attempt, he threw the manuscript into the fireplace. His wife on the other hand (probably because of the novel's subject matter being very close and empathetic among women in general). Tabitha saved it from destruction, sent it in, a deal was made to publish it and henceforth we have the fantastic future works of Stephen King. Proving that behind every successful man lies an intelligent woman. I've read all of King's books and seen a lot of terrible screen adaptations of them, but the first film version of Carrie was pretty close to the book. A remake was later made under Stephen King's "strictly by the book" direction. Out of all of them, the remake of Carrie was very well made and adheres to the book even more faithfully than the original film version. Even though the actors were at the time unknowns, most of them have all since gone on to make many more successful movies. Of these are Sissy Spacek, who's portrayal of the lonely misfit Carrie White was truly exceptional. Piper Laurie who plays Margaret White, Carrie's overly religious maniacal mother who occasionally locks Carrie in a "praying closet". Nancy Davis who played the evil Christine Hargenson and John Travolta who plays her boyfriend/willing stooge Billy. Amy Irving who plays Sue Snell, the only person who gives two hoots about poor Carrie. Let's not forget William Katt who plays the school top jock with a sympathetic heart, he's also Sue's boyfriend. The plot is very simple and most people know the story and anyone (most of us) who were ever picked on in school and made to feel terrible, all for the amusement of other students can closely relate to it. The story begins when after being picked on all day in gym class, during her shower, Carrie White gets her first period. Since her mother never told her about it, she naturally thought that she bleeding to death. Terribly frightened she asks for help from the other girls in the class, who end up humiliating her by cornering her and throwing tampons at her. The girls who assaulted her are punished, which doesn't sit well with Christine (school hottie/total bitch) who thinks that Carrie White deserves to be picked on because she's so damned weird. The Prom is approaching and it's all anyone can talk about. Feeling horrible about participating in the tampon assault, Sue asks her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the Prom. At first he refuses, but after some coaxing from his girlfriend, he agrees. Apparently he's gotten more agreeable since they started having sex. Another issue that should be brought up is that Carrie is also telekinetic and at first, strange things seem to happen when Carrie is freaked. The gym teacher slaps her and an overhead light bursts into sparks. While walking down the street, a young boy on a bike peddles by screaming "Creepy Carrie, Creepy Carrie". She glances at him and he instantly crashes to the ground. As the intensity of her mothers overly religious cruelty increases, Carrie has noticed that the objects around her are beginning to act according to her wishes. Tommy asks Carrie to the Prom. At first she refuses, but after some sweet talk she agrees. Christine still has it in for Carrie, so along with her boyfriend and a minion of teen followers, they concoct the ultimate practical joke, a prank to purposely humiliate Carrie to the extent that will satisfy Christine's hatred for her. A prank that fits the ridicule of having your first period in front of people and subsequently humiliated. They decide that it would be really fun to rig the vote for Prom Queen and King, so that Carrie and Tommy win. Once Carrie is on stage, they will dump pig blood all over her in front of everybody. The plan goes off without a hitch. The pig blood drenches her and Carrie is totally humiliated, but soon her humility is taken over by a telekinetic revenge unparalleled in human history. With her powers increased ten fold by this disastrous prank, no one at the prom survives. With the high school burning to the ground with everyone in it, Carrie walks home. While walking home, Christine and Billy attempt to run her over, only to feel the wrath of Carrie's glance. Their car goes tumbling and soon explodes. When she gets home, she is attacked and stabbed by her mother, because Carrie has gone so far astray and she "obviously" has the devil's powers that she is considered a witch, and after all, the Bible does say "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". Telekinetically tossing knives at her mother, she is eventually pinned to a door frame in a very creepy replica of Christ on the Cross. Carrie's mind is now irreparable and her surroundings act according to her diminished condition causing the house to crumble and collapse. Like I've said, there are three versions of this story. The book, the movie, and the remake. All wonderful, I recommend the book first. Not enough time to read but could handle a two and a half hour movie that adheres to the book "almost religiously", watch the remake (after all, Angela Bettis plays Carrie with an amazing genuineness, you may remember Angela as "May", if not you can look it up here on Cultarama). Or you can sit back and enjoy the first movie at a mere hour and a half and witness one of the best stories ever told by some of the worlds foremost actors and actresses before anyone knew who the hell they were.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Food of the Gods


Once again, a brilliant H.G. Wells novel (The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, The Time Machine) has been turned into a really cheap-ass film. Some of the film adaptations like "War of the Worlds" did indeed come out well, even if it did vary greatly from the novel. I can safely say that "The Food of the Gods" was an excellent novel, that was turned into a really laughable movie. It's funny for all the wrong reasons. I believe that the special effects department meant well, but just really made the movie ridiculous. We'll discuss them as they occur. Too begin, this film was made at a time when science fiction was making a comeback. Giant "this and thats " of some form or another, mostly created by modern means and mistakes like bombs, radiation, pollution, nuclear waste, etc. The giant villains this time are mostly rats. Anyway, the story: A famous football player needs a little vacation before an important game. He takes along a few friends, his coach and some teammates to an island getaway. A narrative theme begins with a man talking about how nature will someday rebel for all the shitty things we do to it, unfortunately the victims are innocent people who only suffer the wrath of the actual polluters. They arrive on an island only to be met with giant wasps. The crappy special effects begin here... the wasps are transparent, you can see right through them. There's one close-up of the attack which shows a most obvious big plastic bug. One fatality, one down... more to come. The group comes across a chicken coop that looks like it's been partially torn apart. He peeks inside only to be met with a giant chicken (well, a big plastic chicken head that someone is thrusting toward the actor). This scene is sidesplittingly funny. The plastic head doesn't move it's mouth or blink or anything, pretty pathetic. The owner of the chicken coop is located in the nearby farmhouse. It's an old lady that explains how some weird chemical started bubbling up in her backyard. She feeds it to the chickens (Yeah, that would've been my first choice too). The chickens grow and grandma thinks she's got the solution to hunger. The problem is, other creatures are grubbing on this chemical that granny has now spread all over the damn place, resulting in large bugs, large worms, and mostly large rats. The pests reign supreme and kill most of what's left of a forgettable cast. The big plastic rat heads are as funny as the big plastic chicken heads, so obviously fake and totally laughable. The special effect used for when a giant rat is shot with a shotgun is this, the rats are being shot with a paint ball gun. Problem is, those things shoot hard, not much for people, but these poor rats were looking mighty stunned and rendered unconscious upon impact. One of the last people left, theorizes that even though rats are really good swimmers, the fact that they have been enlarged, the same rules of gravity do not apply and if the rats are submerged in water they will sink and drown. This is absolutely not true by the way. Remember hippos, anyone? Four tons of flesh that floats along the water like a swimming pool floatie. Anyway, these two guys plant pipe bombs on a nearby damn (on an island?). The damn blows, the rats drown. You would think/hope that it would end here, but it doesn't. A creepy aftermath is hinted at. Some of the growth chemical makes it into a nearby stream and out into fresh water areas where cows drink from. You then see a cow on a milk machine, then school children enjoying their afternoon milk and cookies. I guess it's hinting that we can soon expect large ravenous children, not to mention larger than life cows (now maybe a good steak won't cost so damn much) and whatever other life that the chemical came in contact with while in the water. I see a sequel with giant crawfish! Aaaaaagh!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Don't Look in the Basement!


This movie is cheaper than cheap. It was shot in a mere 12 days at a cost of about $10,000. But even in with the odds against them, I believe this movie is quite well made. It has a very ominous atmosphere, an asylum in the middle of nowhere, where the patients are free to move about the property. Dr. Stephens is the head doctor at this facility, he has hired a new nurse to replace one who is leaving because she can't take the potential danger of being harmed by one of the inmates. First, let's meet the patients: There's Jennifer, who is for the most part catatonic, but now and then enjoys attacking people with knives. An army sergeant who stays glued to the window with binoculars convinced that the beastly hun is just around the bend. Sam, a sweet guy, probably the most stable of the bunch, yet is slightly retarded and has the mind of a child. A judge who still thinks he's in front of a jury. Harriet, a sad woman who lost her baby and now is seriously overprotective of a baby doll. Let's not forget Allison, who for the most part seems very sane, but actually has a love obsession with EVERYBODY, constantly repeating "I know you love me". On with the story. The movie begins with Dr. Stephens teaching the judge how to release aggression by chopping wood. Giving an ax to an asylum inmate just spells disaster, and the judge eventually turns on the good doctor and whacks him in the head with the ax. An apparent nurse tells everyone to calm down, that she knows just what to do. This apparent head nurse, takes control over the asylum in the doctors absence. She seems to be next in line and is in charge now. The new nurse named Charlotte arrives, is informed of the doctors untimely passing and introduces herself as Dr. Masters, Dr. Stephens assistant. Dr. Masters isn't particularly thrilled about having a new nurse around and tries to send her away. Desperate for a job, she pleads with Dr. Masters and is eventually allowed to stay. Many of the patients forewarn Nurse Charlotte that danger lurks, but who can tell if an insane person is telling the truth or just being their little insane selves. An old lady that has been warning Charlotte from day one, apparently has cut her own tongue out. Dr. Masters doesn't seem too bothered by it and writes it off as the mere act of a lunatic. Someone has cut the phone lines as well, making the isolation all that much more ominous. Dr. Masters is beyond aggravated that a telephone repairman shows up and bitches him out and tells him never to return. He explains that he's just doing his job and is reluctantly shown the phone lines by Dr. Masters. Soon we see that the repairman has been killed, throat slit wide open. All the while Dr. Masters is starting to get weirder and definitely crankier. Sam tells Charlotte that he talks to Dr. Stephens and that the doctor is very concerned about nurse Charlotte. Sam also is carrying Dr. Stephens watch. Again she doesn't know what to believe because after all, these are asylum patients. Before his demise, the telephone repairman encounters Allison who is convinced that the repairman loves her. Upon finding him dead, she tells Charlotte that Dr. Masters killed her eternal love (the repairman). She also tells Charlotte that Dr. Masters is a patient as well who like to pretend to be a doctor. Again, Charlotte can't believe it could be true. The old lady can't exactly tell Charlotte anything because she no longer has a tongue, but when asked if Dr, Masters was the one who cut out her tongue, she nods yes... because she was trying to warn Charlotte from the beginning that all is not what it seems. Sam gives Charlotte a note saying that the doctor is alive and very worried. Nurse Charlotte has decided that it's definitely time to go, and begins what seems like an endless search for a way out. What's wrong with the front door is anyone's guess. She goes down to the basement and find Dr. Stephens barely alive. Of course since she's never met him, she doesn't know it's the doctor and smashes his head in, finishing him off. Sam saves Charlotte while the other inmates attack and kill Dr. Masters with various sharp objects. While Charlotte runs her ass off getting out of there, Sam goes back and kills the rest of the inmates. Covered in their blood, he sits and enjoys his favorite treat, grape popsicles. A creepy little flick, where the inmates run the asylum is a scary enough idea to keep you on the edge of your seat and totally makes up for the overall cheapness of the film.