November 2, 2015

The Two Carries

I know I'm late to this party - comparing the two Carries, the one from 1976 and the newer 2013 version. It's been done before, probably a lot. But I found the 2013 version of Carrie on Hulu this morning and, since I've seen the old one about eight zillion times, I automatically started to draw comparisons, not only to the films, but to my own life. Read on to see what I mean.

1. The Two Posters

Poster #1 tells a pretty distinct story: something happened to this chick at the prom and now she's covered in blood and looking deranged. While Poster #2 says: hey, look, a bloody girl. That's it. Also, the first poster uses proper grammar while the second does not... "You will know her name Carrie." What does that even mean? With the insertion of a comma it would have a totally weird meaning. "You will know her name, Carrie." Whose name will Carrie know?! Maybe it should have been a colon. "You will know her name: Carrie" or an elipses, "You will know her name... Carrie." I don't know, but the fact that I'm having to analyze the tagline for meaning doesn't work for me.

2. The Two Carries (Sissy vs. Chloe)

Sissy is a beautiful woman, but let's face it. Redheads look weird without makeup. I can say this because I am a redhead myself and I have the same wan complexion and lack of eyelash color that Sissy has, which is maybe why I identify with her so much better than I do with Chloe. Chloe Grace Moretz is adorable, a little too adorable to play the scorned Carrie White. In real life, Chloe's Carrie would just be a drama weirdo, but probably wouldn't be the subject of such intense ridicule and hatred, while Sissy's Carrie, who looks ghoulish and strange, would definitely be at the butt of some jokes. How do I know this? From experience! More than once as a child I was told, "I don't like your face, freak" and "You look like a ghost" by a member of the cooler class. When I was twelve, my mom and her cousin, Jackie, sat me down and forced me to learn how to apply makeup because "Even a new barn looks better with a coat of paint." Yes, really. That was said to twelve-year-old me, and I still to this day feel ugly when I go outside the house without makeup on. I do it, of course, because makeup is expensive and I'm not about to put it on to go pick up a prescription, but there's that voice of the Cold War-era Southern woman telling me never to leave the house without it, and shouldn't I just be embarrassed! But I digress. Sissy played her Carrie with a cringe-worthy awkwardness that made her almost hard to watch. Chloe's a good li'l actress, but she was clearly miscast in this film. She plays Carrie like a caricature, hyperbolic and overdone. There's no finesse to the performance, and unlike Sissy's, I just can't identify with it.

3. The Two Margaret Whites (Piper vs. Julianne)

I'm too lazy to look this up right now, but didn't Piper Laurie win an Oscar for this role? I think she did. Feel free to "pipe" in on Piper's win (or lack thereof) in the comments. Again, original Carrie's Piper takes the win for me. Julianne Moore is amazing, and she plays the character wonderfully, but I feel that the direction she was given led her to be more menacing than the original mother. Piper played Margaret White with such a deranged glee that it made her just so, so creepy! She smiles as she lunges in to stab her daughter. There's no regret, apology or fear there, just happiness in the knowledge that she's doing the Lord's work. And that is terrifying!

4. The Two Sue Snells (Amy vs. Gabriella)

I liked both Sues. I really did. I thought they both turned in good performances. As with most newer films, the actors are all just a little too perfect for my liking. So, I tend to lean toward Amy Irving's Sue when casting a final vote. And there was a sense that she actually really cared about what happened to Carrie, and wanted to make amends, while Gabriella's Sue is just a touch more distant. But, in the grand scheme of things, both were good.

5. The Two Tommys (William vs. Ansel)

This one's a toughie, because I love William Katt and can sing the entire theme song to Greatest American Hero. But I am also one of those creepy forty-something women who thinks Ansel Elgort is adorable. If I were eighteen again I'd have his Teen Beat posters all over my wall. Is Teen Beat even still around?? Anyway, it's hard. I feel like William Katt gave a nice, albeit corny, performance. And Ansel was his usual adorable self, so it's super hard to cut up anything he does. And I loved the nod Ansel gave to William during the prom-prep montage, where he stopped and looked at himself in the mirror of a tuxedo shop, sporting a ruffly dress shirt and bowtie. I can't pick a winner here - I love them both!

6. The Two Chris'es (Nancy vs. Portia)

Nancy. No contest. When she licks her lips right before she pulls the rope to release the blood, you just know she's a total sociopath. 

7. The Two Whatever-Her-Name-Is'es (P.J. Soles vs.......)

P. J. Soles vs. No-one because P. J. Soles is the queen of everything! I can't even put her up against the actress who played her role in the newer movie, because I just love her so much I'm blind to imitators. You rock, P. J. Soles. You are my hero. I would hang your Teen Beat posters too, just because I want to study and mimic your awesomeness.

8. The Two Gym Teachers (Betty vs. Judy)

I'm giving this one to Betty Buckley, not only because she was raised (and her mom still lives) in the city from which I currently hail, but also because she added a real tenderness to the role that Judy Greer just didn't manage to pull off. 

Don't get me wrong - I love Judy Greer. She's hilarious in everything, because she's a friggin' comedian! She straight-up doesn't belong in this movie. When she says, "You did a shitty thing, a really shitty thing" to the girls on the football field, it feels like she's just phoning it in. But Betty's coach is really pissed and you can tell! There's a genuine sense of dread from the girls in that scene. 

I can imagine being on that field, knowing I'd done something completely idiotic, and knowing that hell was about to be paid because Satan himself was standing right in front of me barking orders. 

9. The Two Proms (DePalma vs. Peirce)

Both prom sequences have their positives, but the original has so much more finesse, and just genuine creepiness to it. There's something to be said for watching William Katt mutter "What the hell?!" but not being able to hear it versus actually hearing the words come out of Ansel Elgort's mouth. The cool thing about the Katt version is that the silence of the scene puts you right inside Carrie's brain. She doesn't hear squat until the laughter of her peers tunnels into her ears all at once and makes her lose it. Plus, you get this awesome split-screen thing.

Carrie's pissed and nobody's getting out of that gym in one piece. The most ingenious thing behind this original 1976 scene is that you are actually rooting for Carrie. Yeah, eff 'em! They all laughed at you and now they get their comeuppance. You don't so much feel that way for the new Carrie. 

Plus, the original has this iconic stage-fire eruption scene that trumps every competitor!

In the new Carrie, you get this...

Fire doesn't so much erupt as it just gets awkwardly flung. In fact, there's a lot of awkwardness to Chloe's final showdown in the new Carrie - it's like she didn't quite know what to do with her arms and face. 

While Sissy knew exactly what to do with her arms and face. Nothing! The only thing that moves is her head when she whips it back and forth to cause mayhem, and then her feet as she walks out of the gym. It's amazing and it totally works!

No weird facial expression here. Just a wide-eyed trance face, expressing nothing. It's so perfect.

I think it's obvious that we have a clear winner here. And, no, Carrie didn't vote for herself. If you've seen either movie, you know she's not into that and only does it under duress. Therefore, I crown thee the superior winner and queen of the Carries.... CARRIE 1976!


November 1, 2015

Come Out and Play (2012)

I caught this one on Hulu, totally on a whim, and I was kind of surprised that I enjoyed it. I've read a lot of mixed, mostly negative, reviews, so my hopes weren't high. But it wasn't bad. After watching it, I did a little research and learned that it's actually an almost shot-for-shot remake of a 1976 film called Who Could Kill a Child? Shot-for-shot remakes seem totally pointless to me, so I'm really glad I didn't have that knowledge before I went into this. The remake of Psycho with Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche is a disastrous pile of manure, and I can blame that movie for ruining shot-for-shot remakes for me. If it's shot-for-shot and I've already seen the original, then I've already seen the remake! You don't need my money.

From here on out there be spoilers...

We start with Francis and his seven-months-pregnant wife, Beth. They are vacationing in a hot foreign country, where the water notoriously gives you diarrhea, because apparently that's something good for a pregnant woman to do. They decide to visit an island out of the blue because apparently they were bored with the vacation they were already on. They take a teeny rented boat to the island over choppy waters because apparently it's totally cool to bang your baby up and down with the force of a hammer blow over and over and over. Okay, there's your set up.

It doesn't take long for Francis and Beth to realize that there are no adults on the island, only creepy kids who smile and giggle while they're mercilessly beating old people with a cane.

These kids are nutty as hell, totally depraved (note the ear necklace in the photo above). They don't seem to care about anything but killing adults and playing with dead grown-up guts. So, you might think, "But why?" And you never really get an answer, but you do get an idea that there is an alien or supernatural force at play. When the murderous savage kids come upon some "normal" kids, they impart their desires to the new kids with a touch on the shoulder and a deep, smoldering eye-linger. These crazy little assholes are psychic now?!

Anyway, I'm just gonna cut to the chase. After some sad stuff in the middle (some nice people, that you are actually compelled to like and root for, bite it hard because they don't want to kill the kids), and the death of our lead heroine Beth by way of her unborn baby tearing her up from the inside out, we're left with Francis running for his life to the dock where his boat is parked. He finally says 'eff it" and just starts knocking the crap out of any kid that comes near him with a baseball bat. I say good on you, Francis. Spare the rod, spoil the child. It's the only way they'll learn.

Francis is busy smashing a kid's head into gorilla cookies when the law pulls up. They see what he's doing and... of course... shoot him. (Thanks for making this a thing, George Romero! Ugh...) Francis dies. Then the police hit the dock to help the kids, where they are quickly attacked and killed. Next a handful of the kids hop on the police boat and sail off to parts unknown, in an obvious effort to take over the world. What happens next we don't know. Once all of the adults are dead, do the aliens descend? What if the aliens lose interest in our planet and go away? Do the kids just kill each other when they reach a certain age, like the children of the corn did? What about the adults who live out in the middle of nowhere and don't have kids around. Will they eventually save the day with their abundance of weapons and survival gear? I've got questions, man!

I enjoyed this movie. I say check it out. And be sure to go online and dig up scenes from the original. Those 70s kids are even creepier.

October 15, 2015

Sorority Row (2009)

The movie that hates women.

I loved the original 1983 version of The House on Sorority Row so much that when I saw this remake - titled simply Sorority Row - on Netflix, I just had to check it out despite the abysmal star rating. And you know what? I can describe it in two words: hot mess.


Why would any self-respecting female even deign to participate in this misogynistic tripe? Only the main stars' characters even have names. The remainder of the females in the film are listed in the credits as "bra-clad sister, slutty sister, naive girl, trampoline sister, already drunk sister, over-it sister, etc." Okay, fine. So, they don't have names. What about the fact that these girls are NEVER without full makeup, even in the shower. I repeat, EVEN IN THE SHOWER! The water might be running over their faces, but that makeup does not budge. They are also ALWAYS in heels and skirts, even when the scenario definitely allows them time to change into something more practical and seriously requires better activewear than heels and skirts, like the time they - oh, I dunno - decided to rappel the innards of a deep, but somehow magically not dark, abandoned mine shaft. Just do it in your heels and skirts, girls. Because that makes total sense. 

Yeah, this is how college girls dress when they're partying. Just like this.

What about how they roofie their friend so she can play dead? Did I mention she's in skimpy lingerie and they're filming her? It's all a part of a dastardly prank to get revenge on said girl's boyfriend because he cheated on her. By the way, the girl in question is Audrina Patridge, made famous from the reality TV show, The Hills, which I'm not gonna lie, I loved. And there was something really satisfying in watching her eat it because, when she took back notorious douchebag Justin Bobby on The Hills, we kind of all wanted to kill her, right?

In addition to the myriad scenes of girls in short skirts and heels, girls getting drunk, girls getting felt up by random passersby, girls being catty, girls willfully playing subordinate roles to both boys their age and men much, much older (one girl consents to having sex with her rancid old therapist so she can score some OxyContin), we also have titties, titties, and more titties. There are so many boobs onscreen, I felt like I was watching a Three Stooges marathon. Hey-ohhhh!
During a party scene (I say "a" because there's more than one party scene), one girl runs through the crowd in a hooded graduation gown, then whips it off to reveal her bare tits while the crowd whoops and hollers. She loves the attention so much, she decides to dance around. Yep, apparently that's all we ladies are good for, showing our tits with the hope of pleasuring men's eyeballs and wieners. I'm so glad this one movie finally managed to get it right! I should stop writing right now and just go to a place crowded with men and show them my big, droopy, post-baby, mom boobies. You think they'd like that shit? 

Now, check out this dumb-as-hell murder weapon. It's a pimped out tire iron. Yeah, you read that correctly. A tire iron, but all jazzed up. And, when we finally learn who the murderer is, the fact that he's using a pimped out tire iron, because that's what the first girl was killed with, makes no sense! He wasn't avenging her at all, he wasn't even related to her or connected to her in any real way. So, why would he take the time to jack up a tire iron in effigy to her murder? 

Because this. Yes, this is how you'd be dressed while running from a psychopath.

By the way, the killer is Andy, who is played by British actor Julian Morris, whom you may know as Ryan on the TV show New Girl. Our two major final girls are Cassidy, played by Briana Evigan, the kick ass girl dancer from the Step Up movies, and Ellie, played by Rumer Willis, the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis.

Thankfully their perfect makeup made it all the way to the end of the movie.

I didn't think I'd ever see more ridiculous "Final Girl" boobies than those prominently displayed by one Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer...

But I was wrong. Hewitt, your boobs have been challenged by Evigan's boobs. Fight, fight!

Also, I want to let you know that if you are one of those Playboy "readers" who subscribes to the magazine "just for the articles" and doesn't even see the boobs, you won't be bored! The writer of this script is a total genius, who gives us such wonderful and insightful lines as, "Ellie, you're being borderline retarded right now" and "Easy now, Lezzy Lohan" and "Too bad it doesn't prevent bulimia, that's something Megan could actually use."

Carrie Fisher. All hail.

Lastly, worry not. There's one shining gem in this film, in the form of Ms. Carrie Fisher, the queen to all of us who have bipolar disorder. I effing love her. And she does not disappoint. She calls the girls out for being idiots, and then goes after the killer with a buck shot. Her best line is, "Well, he, she or it is about to get two rounds to the face." Carrie Fisher, please be my best friend.

Only these final three have lived to twerk again.
Final thought: Don't watch unless you want to take the feminist movement back about a thousand-zillion years. Don't watch if you hate predictable movies that suck. Do look for Carrie Fisher's scenes on YouTube. Fin.

September 30, 2015

Starry Eyes (2014)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of "Shocktober" over at Final Girl's blog, which is a month-long viewing and reviewing of horror films available on Netflix Instant Watch. She has invited her readers to participate, watching the films along with her and reviewing them ourselves, then sharing links to our reviews in the comments section of her posts. That sounds fun! I don't know if I will be able to watch them all, but I'll do my best.

The first movie up to bat is 2014's Starry Eyes. I don't know how I'd never heard of this movie before. After I watched it, I did some research online and found that it has gotten a pretty positive reception all around. named it one of the Top Ten Horror Films of 2014. Interestingly, it was primarily funded via a Kickstarter campaign. I have mixed feelings about Kickstarter, but hey, whatever works.

So, here's our wannabe starlet, Sarah Walker. Sarah is a moderately talented aspiring actress, but entirely uncertain of her abilities and a tad unhinged. When things don't go her way, we see her pulling out clumps of her hair and throwing "tizzies" (as my MeeMaw would say). She seems sweet and naive on the surface, but there's a darkness to her. She is played flawlessly by the lead actress in the film, Alex Essoe, who apparently cried real tears and volunteered to put the worms in her mouth that her character later vomits out in the film. The following gif demonstrates my feelings about putting worms into one's mouth...

I'm not going to get all spoilery on this one, because it's still fairly new and if you are one of the Final Girl readers who hasn't seen it yet, I don't want to ruin it. But let me just give you the basic premise.
Aspiring starlet wants to be an actress. She won't admit it to anyone, including herself, but she is willing to do anything to make it big in show biz. At the first hint of acceptance during an audition for a movie called The Silver Scream, she quits her soul-eating job at theme restaurant Hot Taters and then both literally (though it's unknown to her at the time) and figuratively sells her soul to the movie industry. Via Satan, of course. Well, d'uh!

In order to be "reborn" into a famous actress, she first has to transform. And that's where things get gross, like seriously gross. I actually had to look away from the screen a couple of times. So, yeah, it gets pretty nasty.

And, naturally, there are some over-the-top murders involved. (I didn't know a cheek could squirt blood like that!) Does she make it into show biz? I won't tell you - you'll just have to watch. However, as viewers we do get some answers about Hollywood that make total sense. Like, does everyone who lives there worship Satan? Probably. I mean, seriously, how would you explain the Kardashians??

All told, I thought it was pretty good. But it was wholly uncomfortable watching our lead actress make terrible decisions and do some of the dumbest shit ever, so by the time she really starts suffering I didn't care too much about her.

What I really loved about this movie was the throwback vibe to the witchy and "satanic panic" films of the 60s, 70s and 80s. It had a very definite sense of reverence (even with the music) toward films like Rosemary's Baby, The Wicker Man, and To the Devil a Daughter.

I wouldn't watch it a 2nd time, but that is not a statement of it's worth. I wouldn't watch Twelve Years a Slave a 2nd time either, and it was amazing. Starry Eyes is just too dark and depressing to watch over again, but it was definitely worth the viewing and I highly recommend it to you guys. Go ahead and watch it, but have your fingers ready to the cover your eyes. I'm not kidding, it gets really gross.