Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Keep calm and Carrie on

Mr. Morton: "We're all sorry about this incident, Cassie."

Carrie: [voice breaking, shouts] "It's Carrie!"

-- Stephen King, Carrie

Barbie as "Carrie" 10-15-13

"I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine
and rage the likes of which you would not believe.
If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”

-- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Sissy Spacek as "Carrie" (1976)

"Everybody is a book of blood; 
wherever we're opened, we're red."

-- Clive Barker, Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3

Halloween is a fertile time for horror flicks and haunted houses. So in the spirit of all things horrifying, I doused one of my Barbies in a bucket of pig's blood (okay, it's just Karo syrup and red food coloring) and re-created the iconic prom scene from the 1976 movie Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, the shy, outcast weird girl who gets bullied, and then gets telekinetic revenge.

I've been thinking about this portrait for a while, and "October-faced" seemed like the right time to rock it.

The first really scary movie I ever saw was Stephen King's The Shining. It was 1980 and was a 12-year-old 7th grader. I went with my mom and my friend Linda, who was staying at my house for a sleepover. My mom took the R rating seriously and called Linda's very traditional old-world Italian parents to get permission for her to see the movie.

They said yes.

The theater was packed when we got there. But we got our two child and one adult tickets. Finding a seat was more difficult. We ended up in the second row from the front, far left, on the aisle. For the next two hours I got the shit scared out of me.

The corpse in the bathtub.

Those twins.

Jack Nicholson's face.

I loved all of it.

I also have a really vivid memory of watching Friday the 13th, again with my mom, this time on the couch at home, both of us cowering under a blanket waiting for Jason to pop up out of the pond and into the rowboat.

So scary.

But so fun.

There is something immensely satisfying about the clash of feeling simultaneously afraid and completely safe.

Horror is a love it or hate it kind of genre. I don't consume as much of it as I used to (mostly because I don't want it to disturb my precious sleep), but every once in a while I indulge. I prefer suspense to gore, psychological thrillers to slasher films. My son Sam and I watched The Ring parts 1 and 2 last summer. It was an oddly satisfying bonding thing, kind of like I had with my own mom back in the day.

I love this statement by author Warren Ellis about the place of scary movies and books in our psychology:

"Fiction is how we both study and de-fang our monsters. 
To lock violent fiction away, or to close our eyes to it, 
is to give our monsters and our fears undeserved power 
and richer hunting grounds.
It’s entirely possible that we need 
a little blood in our eyes to see some things more clearly."

-- Warren Ellis, 
"Blood in Your Eye: Why We Need Violent Stories"

(Click here if you want to read Warren Ellis's complete essay.)

In case you don't already know, Carrie has been re-made with Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role.
It opens this Friday.
It's a perfect opportunity to grab a couple of 12-year-olds and go de-fang some monsters.