Film Face-off: 'Carrie' (1976) vs. 'Carrie' (2013)

Film Face-off: 'Carrie' (1976) vs. 'Carrie' (2013)

Oct 21, 2013

Approximately every 37 years, they remake Carrie. It's like clockwork. I was just three-and-a-half months old when the original film starring Sissy Spacek hit the screen. Growing up, it was definitely a movie I felt like I saw before I actually sat down to watch it. At first glance, it's not good and barely a horror film. Luckily, Brian De Palma's film can be watched more than once.

Like many, I watched the original and then the "reimagining" starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. The official synopsis calls it a reimagining because I guess "remake" is a dirty word. This is most definitely a remake, with a few things being added or cleaned up. "Nudity" will not be a category, because the remake doesn't feature any. While some of you may be sighing with sadness, I found that to be a relief. The nudity in the original is just one of the awkward, uncomfortable things in a film that grows with appreciation every time you see it.

If you haven't guessed it by now, this week's Film Face-off is Carrie (1976) vs. Carrie (2013), original vs. remake.



Carrie (1976)

Margaret White (Piper Laurie) is a door-to-door saleswoman, selling a devout, crazy version of Christianity. She also greets news of her daughter's period with a smack across the face. Margaret has designed a claustrophobic pray room (closet) for Carrie to constantly repent with a Jesus whose eyes light up. When she learns of Carrie's special powers, she decides Satan gave them to her. Her chanting of "They're all going to laugh at you," is chilling. She calls breasts "dirty pillows."

Carrie (2013)

Margaret White (Moore) is a seamstress. She had no clue she was pregnant and when she discovers a baby in bed she almost kills her with scissors. Margaret was home-schooling Carrie until the school district intervenes. Apparently that book learning never included talk of getting your period, because this Carrie is surprised by her monthly visitor as well. Margaret is a cutter, which is creepy as all heck. She calls breasts "dirty pillows."

Winner: Remake. Laurie is a good working actress, and nails the "They're all going to laugh at you" line to the point that it is properly underplayed in the remake. But Moore plays a fully realized character and all of the tiny additions to Margaret make her better. The very beginning improves upon the psychosis of Margaret, the home-schooling explains a lot, and the cutting, scratching, smacking and pounding on herself makes you realize what an unhealthy situation this is for Carrie. If anything can be learned, it's that we need to start calling breasts "dirty pillows" again for how awkwardly hilarious it sounds.



Carrie (1976)

Our two main boys are Tommy Ross (William Katt from The Greatest American Hero) and Billy Nolan (John Travolta from Welcome Back, Kotter). Tommy is popular, nice and is going to nationals for track. Billy is as dumb as the come, and he's willing to do just about anything in his unhealthy, addictive relationship with Chris.

Carrie (2013)

In the remake, Tommy is played by Ansel Elgort (his first film) and Billy is played by Alex Russell (Chronicle). Tommy continues to be popular and nice, but this time he plays lacrosse and compares himself to Tim Tebow. Billy is not necessarily dumb, and he's more purposefully evil than in the original. It seems as though Chris is addicted to him this time around.

Winner: Original. It's impossible to properly judge this category because of what Katt and Travolta became. It would be shocking to see Elgort or Russell become stars. Making Billy the one who comes up with the idea of pig's blood makes Chris less powerful in the remake. In fact, there's something pathetic about her clinging to Billy, whereas in the original Billy is controlled. Tommy is just a great guy. I can't imagine being that together in high school. In the remake they switch the poem reading in class, to where Tommy likes Carrie's poem. It's another nice, tiny touch, but it doesn't compare to the hair styles that Katt and Travolta sport in the original.



Carrie (1976)

All of the girls chant "plug it up" and throw sanitary napkins at Carrie in the shower. Sue Snell (Amy Irving) realizes it was wrong and tries to make up for it. Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) decides to seek revenge and turns out to be a bigger psycho than Carrie.

Carrie (2013)

All of the girls chant "plug it up" and throw sanitary napkins at Carrie in the shower, and Chris takes a video of it. Sue (Gabriella Wilde from The Three Musketeers) feels terrible about the whole thing. Chris (Portia Doubleday from Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son) is upset at everyone for not taking her side. Her side is that Carrie deserves it.

Winner: Original. There is an addition to Sue's character in the remake that feels completely unnecessary. It's a spoiler, so I won't give it away. It doesn't matter. Sue is sweet, renting out her boyfriend for the night to Carrie. Chris is evil, but even more so in the original. There is a significant psycho-seductive oral sex sequence, and just think about actually getting pig's blood for a second. Why not just spill Cherry Kool-Aid on Carrie at prom? Would anyone think it's not cruel unless they found out it was real blood? Try explaining how you killed a pig for revenge on someone who actually didn't do anything to you. It's a tough one. Also, I think "sanitary napkins" is one of the worst terms in the English language.



Carrie (1976)

Using telekinesis, Carrie breaks a light bulb, tips a kid on his bike, shakes an ashtray, shatters a mirror, opens a door, closes lots of doors, sprays people with a fire hose, makes a car swerve, throws knives and finally makes a house implode.

Carrie (2013)

Using telekinesis, Carrie makes sanitary napkins shake, breaks a light bulb, breaks a water cooler, tips a kid on his bike, cracks a door, shatters a mirror and controls the broken pieces, raises books and her bed, tosses a knife, moves the living room furniture, moves her mom, turns radio on, electrocutes people, burns others, throws knives, and makes a house implode.

Winner: Tie. It's almost the same list. In the original, watching a fire hose attack teens is funny, not scary. In the remake she makes pig blood fly, which technically counts as pigs flying, right?



Carrie (1976)

Sissy Spacek is Carrie White.

Carrie (2013)

Chloë Grace Moretz is Carrie White.

Winner: Original. This is a landslide. The constant impish whisper in which Spacek delivers every line is perfect for an awkward teenage girl. Let's face it, Spacek is "original" looking. Most of you would agree that you could replace "original" with "weird." You feel terrible for her, and desperate for her to find the power to stand up to her mother and the bullies. We have seen Moretz be headstrong in Let Me In and the Kick-Ass films. She doesn't do sheepish very well. Instead, when Moretz' Carrie researches telekinesis, it comes off like a superhero movie with the girl gaining more and more confidence. She's too powerful, and in too much control, which makes the ending carnage feel like a choice instead of a reaction.


OVERALL WINNER: Carrie (1976) defeats Carrie (2013), 3-1-1.

Julianne Moore is not enough to overcome the power of Sissy Spacek and Brian De Palma. "They don't make them like they used to," is the perfect phrase when comparing these films. The original has a creepy vibe throughout, kind of like when a man asks the age of a teenage girl. It's gross. De Palma worships the oddity of Spacek's Carrie, even having her get naked multiple times. He also has three recurring musical choices. One sounds like it sound be in a children's fantasy, another is Psycho-like and the other is electronic quirkiness. The remake of Carrie feels like a normal drama-horror film.




Categories: Features, Horror, In Theaters
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