Sunday, July 25, 2010

October 19, 2009: 20 Things You May Not Have Known About ‘Carrie’

“They’re all gonna laugh at you” if you don’t get hip to the 20 Things You May Not Have Known About Carrie!



1. Stephen King’s initial inspiration for Carrie occurred while the soon-to-be prolific novelist was working as a college janitor. While cleaning the school gym, he noticed an unfamiliar device on the wall of the girl’s locker room. A co-worked named Harry informed King that it was a “pussy plug” dispenser. Harry’s colloquialism would evolve into the indelible taunt “Plug it up!” in Carrie.

2. The character of Carrie was based on two girls with whom Stephen King attended high school. One was an unfortunate outsider who hung herself as an adult. The other was a girl who suffered epileptic seizures and lived alone with her single mother who decorated the living room wall with a massive crucifix. The girl later died during one of her seizures.

3. Carrie was almost relegated to the dump. Believing that he’d failed to capture the experience of a teenage girl, Stephen King tossed his first draft of the story (Carrie began life as a short work) in the trash. His wife Tabitha rescued the manuscript from the bin, gave it a read, and convinced her husband to keep working on it.

4. Stephen King’s novel is partially told via testimony to a government “Carrie White Commission” investigating Carrie’s prom night trail of destruction. Lawrence D. Cohen’s first draft of the script used the “Carrie White Commission” as a narrative device, but the writer later dropped this in favor of a leaner approach.

5. Brian De Palma and George Lucas held casting sessions for Carrie and Star Wars simultaneously. William Katt, who eventually scored the role of Tommy Ross in Carrie, auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Amy Irving (Sue Snell) and P.J. Soles (Norma Watson) both auditioned for Princess Leia. That’s not the only connection between De Palma’s film and the ‘70s’ biggest blockbuster: Palisades High School, a location used for Bates High School, was built on a lot once owned by Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher—the parents of Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher.

6. Her role as Margaret White in Carrie was Piper Laurie’s first appearance in a feature film since she starred as Sarah Packard in The Hustler fifteen years earlier. Laurie went into semi-retirement after becoming dissatisfied with the roles Hollywood offered her and to raise her family. She received Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for playing both Sarah Packard and Margaret White.

7. Priscilla Pointer, who plays Amy Irving’s mother in Carrie, is Irving’s actual mother. De Palma had previously cast the mother-daughter team of Jennifer Salt and Mary Davenport in his film Sisters. He felt that such casting contributed a “documentary reality” to his films.

8. Brian De Palma originally intended Sissy Spacek to play Chris Hargensen, Carrie’s main tormentor.

9. Actor Bill Paxton worked as an assistant to Art Director Jack Fisk on Carrie. Fisk is Sissy Spacek’s husband.

10. Of the lead “teens” in Carrie, John Travolta was the youngest at 22. The oldest was 26-year old Sissy Spacek, who was only two years younger than Betty Buckley, who played Carrie’s gym teacher Miss Collins.

11. An infamous Hitchcock-obsessive, Brian De Palma desperately wanted Hitchcock’s right-hand composer Bernard Herrmann to score Carrie. When Herrmann died shortly before work on Carrie began, De Palma settled for Pino Donaggio, but that did not stop him from using snippets of Herrmann’s score for Psycho throughout the film.

12. Stephen King’s novel refers to an incident in which Carrie causes a rain of stones to fall upon her house prior to the events in the book. Brian De Palma shot this scene for his film, but decided to cut it because he wasn’t happy with the special effects.

13. When the obnoxious little boy rides by Carrie on his bike and shouts “Creepy Carrie! Creepy Carrie!” the voice you are hearing is that of Betty Buckley.

14. Ms. Collins’s personal prom story, which she tells during Carrie’s doomed prom, was improvised by Betty Buckley.

15. During the prom disaster scene, P.J. Soles’s eardrum was actually punctured by the runaway fire hose.

16. One of the differences between Stephen King’s book and Brian De Palma’s film is the death of Margaret White. In the book, Carrie uses her telekinetic powers to stop her mother’s heart gradually. In the film, she causes kitchen utensils to crucify her mother in a manner that mirrors the St. Sebastian statue in her creepy prayer closet.

17. The famous final shock of Carrie was inspired by the similar ending of John Boorman’s Deliverance. De Palma achieved the scene’s eerie look by shooting it in reverse.

18. Carrie screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen later scripted two teleplays adapted from Stephen King novels: It and The Tommyknockers.

19. In 1988, Carrie was adapted into a Broadway musical that was greeted with venomous audience boos and equally outraged press notices. Linda Winer of New York Newsday deemed the show “stupendously, fabulously terrible…” In his book The Monster Show, David Skal wrote, “The performers cast as high school students appeared, on the average, at least ten years too old for their roles; the girls were costumed like vicious hookers, and the boys, at one point, like sadistic leather fetishists.” Instead of having a bucketful of pig’s blood dropped on her head, Carrie was merely subjected to having her cheeks rubbed “with a few handfuls of red glop” before having an empty bucket placed on her head. Betty Buckley played Margaret White in the show’s short-lived Broadway run.

20. In 2006, playwright Erik Jackson received Stephen King’s blessing to stage a non-musical spoof of Carrie starring drag queen Sherry Vine as the title telekinetic. The show debuted off-Broadway. Unlike the ‘80s musical, this production was greeted far more warmly by the press. The New York Times called the performances “joyously on target,” particularly lauding the work of the “adorable pig [puppet] that closes Act I with a horror-movie-style death scene, perfectly played.”
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