Pop Culture Princess

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Friday, October 18, 2013

A look at the sinister siblings of Stephen King's Carrie

As the fresh new remake of Carrie unrolls at theaters this weekend, I thought it would be interesting to check out some of the other psychic teens of terror that the book and original 1976 film had inadvertently spawned over the years.

While Stephen King didn't write a sequel to his first acclaimed horror novel(for obvious reasons), that didn't stop Hollywood from making one in 1999,not to mention a TV remake and Broadway musical. However, those direct connections to Carrie are not our fearful focal points for this discussion.

 This is more about the "inspired by" cinematic characters that popped up in either horror or fantasy films from time to time like Vivian (played by Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Sue Anderson) in the 1981 made for television movie Midnight Offerings.

TV movies jumped on the Carrie bandwagon after Hollywood had temporarily abandoned due to the limited success of The Fury in 1978. Carrie type of girls showed up in Friday or Saturday Night small screen films and were often turned into witches, despite the fact that Carrie's abilities were more X-Men than Charmed.

While The Initiation of Sarah (which had a college bound pair of sisters,one of whom had TK powers) was remade recently by ABC Family, no one so far has attempted a new Midnight Offerings which would and could be remade easily with suitable time period adjustments. The main story is about two girls,Vivian who is shamelessly evil with her power and Robin,who doesn't mean to rub Vivian the wrong way and is reluctant to use her magic against anyone.

What does give a solid link to Carrie in this film is the twisted relationship between Vivian and her mother Diane,with the daughter scornful of mom's giving up magic in order to have a regular life. It's a reversal of the one Carrie and her mother Margaret had with the one big difference being that Diane actually cared about the well being of her kid. However,like Margaret White, she was powerless to stop her from unleashing the worst within her little girl:

Psychic teens returned to the big screen in due course,with one of the largest horror movie franchises bringing one on board in 1988.

 Friday the 13th,Part Seven:The New Blood(quite a mouthful of a title there!) might as well been called "Jason vs. Carrie" as the major new twist to the well worn out slasher series was having a troubled girl with TK along for the ride.

The girl in question,Tina(Lar Park Lincoln), was carrying around an extra load of guilt from accidentally killing her dad as a kid via her special ability. Unlike Carrie,Tina managed to mend that particular fence with her father but sadly, wasn't able to save her mom from a grisly end at the hands of Jason and a certain weaselly psychiatrist there.

 This was a movie that I fondly remember seeing on it's opening weekend and having the dubious honor of being the only one in the audience actively rooting for Tina to take down Jason(plus a couple of other characters who were particularly horrible). Even today, fans of the Friday the 13th films hold this entry in high regard:

Psychic teens aren't only found in the horror genre. While they have appeared as both heroes and villains in comic book sagas such as the previously mentioned X-Men, last year's found footage flick Chronicle gave us Andrew who was more of a down to earth version of Carrie.

Like her, he was an outcast amongst his peers, with an abusive parent to deal with, and the physically weakest of the trio of young men that stumbled upon a strange glowing rock that gives them all extraordinary abilities.

Andrew gained more confidence from his new powers as time went on but the continued bulling at school and home caused him to slowly yet surely consider the real damage he was now all too capable of doing,much to his own bitter end:

Reviews for the 2013 Carrie remake have been mixed thus far and it's early in the box office race to predict just how profitable the movie will be. It does have a considerable advantage of not having a lot of competition out in this genre right now,plus the whole Halloween thing.

While the original is somewhat dated,the story has remarkable staying power in it's themes of bullying and family abuse which are more on the mainstream radar these days. The fiery finale at the prom,however, is a nightmare that has become a very real fear for high school students much more so than back in the 1970s.

One of the real strengths of Carrie is that it's leading lady is a sympathetic portrayal of a young person who desperately needs a hand up to escape the downward spiral of their life,only to be slapped down yet again and driven to take revenge anyway she can. Hopefully this new version of this frighteningly familiar fable,as well as future imitators, will be able to grasp that all important element to making their pop culture potion just as potent as the first one was and still is:

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