Original Vs. Remake – Carrie (2002)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Returning to our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the horror classic, Carrie.

First, let’s take a look at Catie’s homemade summary, or actually logline/tagline this month:

This is what happens when the girl who is the brunt of every joke decides she’s had enough.

Before I begin my review of the 2002 remake, let me first begin by saying a few things about the 1976 film.  As with many of Stephen King’s works, Carrie is and forever will be a classic horror story.  Honestly, the original version ranks right up there with The Shining, Misery, Cujo, Silver Bullet, Pet Semetary, and even the TV movie, It.  I can watch any of these films, plus many more King adaptations, over and over again.

Story aside, the actresses in the 1976 classic should also be recognized.  Both Sissy Spacek (Carrie White) and Piper Laurie (Carrie’s mother, Margaret White) nailed their performances… Ms. Spacek as the sheltered and abused Carrie White, who breaks and finds a way to torment those who have always tormented her, and the great Piper Laurie as the overly religious and abusive mother.  Their performances landed both of them Academy Award nominations and deservingly so.  I’m not sure a horror movie has ever received Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominations since, although I could be wrong, and I doubt we see any true horror movies such as this receive this kind of praise going forward, but maybe…

But enough about the original, let’s talk about the 2002 remake.

When I first agreed to take on this film, Catie warned me.  But I always enjoy comparing remakes to originals, even if the recent plethora of remakes does worry me about the lack of originality in Hollywood today.  So I did a quick search on my DVR; found the 2002 film and set it to record; and eventually sat down and watched it.

First of all, I almost turned it off five minutes in.  The quality was horrible and I thought to myself that the film appeared to be a low-budget made-for-TV version of the original.  Little did I know at the time, it was.

But I stuck through it, mainly because you can’t review a film after watching the first five minutes.  The story was *kind of* the same as the original, although they did take a few liberties of their own throughout, and the special effects were horrible.  Especially for 2002.

The performances weren’t all that bad, especially not Patricia Clarkson as Margaret White.  She was great. And of course Angela Bettis (Carrie) and the beautiful Rena Sofer (Miss Desjarden, the remake’s version of Miss Collins) weren’t horrible either; but  everyone else… not so much.

So is the 2002 version worth a watch?  No!  Stick to the original…

Now, I also went to the theater to see the new 2013 Carrie film starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore before watching the 2002 “movie.”  Tune in Friday to find out how it compares to the 1976 original and the 2002 version.

And before I go, let me just say that I particularly like the idea of watching Carrie today, especially with the world of bullying where it is now.  Bullying has always existed, at home, at school, and all bullies need to know that eventually everyone gets theirs.  Maybe not via telekinesis like in Carrie, but they do in one way or another.  Therefore, why bully in the first place?

If a little movie like Carrie can stop at least one bully before they physically or emotionally attack anyone, good.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the 2002 version of Carrie?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Mysteries of Under the Dome

After my second DVR crash since March, I found myself scurrying around, trying to recover the 200+ recordings I lost.  Amongst those so inconveniently deleted was CBS’s new science fiction drama, Under the Dome.

When we were finally ready to sit down and watch Under the Dome, we couldn’t find the first episode.  The pilot wasn’t available for viewing on the CBS website, or via OnDemand, prompting us to try something we’d never done before—watch TV via our Amazon Prime account.  For free.  Yeah, I was a happy camper…

Anyway, what would happen if we were cut off from the world?  If we couldn’t leave our city or county lines?  If we were imprisoned by an impenetrable barrier?

Based on the science fiction novel by Stephen King, Under the Dome follows the residents of Chester’s Mill after they are cut off from the world by an invisible, impenetrable barrier—a dome.  Will they uncover the truth in time to save their small town?

Let’s talk about this “wall” for a second… This “wall” sliced a cow in half, which was not at all appetizing to watch while eating dinner.  And for about a span of three to five minutes, although it felt longer, the cameras kept showing the darn cow.  Yuck.  Trust me.

But back to the story…

Not knowing whether or not this is an act of terror, or an act of God, the town’s people scurry around, trying to make heads or tails out of the situation.  And when government agencies show up on the outside, wearing full-on Hazmat Gear, those trapped know that something is terribly wrong.

Recognizing that something has them “stuck in a fish bowl,” the mayor hops on a public radio access channel and instructs all vehicles to stop moving, but not before a couple of cars crash into the invisible “wall.”  A few witnesses even watch as a small prop plane smashes into what appears to be nothing up in the sky and burst into flames.

Completely dumbfounded, friends and family, separated by the “wall,” stare at each other… scream at each other.  But nothing carries across the electrical field.  The only way we know it’s electrical is because it’s shocking to the touch and even prompted someone with a pace maker’s chest to explode.

As one can imagine, some panic, others keep calmer heads and hope to plan an escape, while others just go plain bonkers.

The new horror/mystery series stars: Mike Vogel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre circa 2003), Rachelle Lefevre (the Twilight saga), Colin Ford (Supernatural), Natalie Martinez (Detroit 1-8-7 and CSI: NY), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle), Aisha Hinds (Detroit 1-8-7, True Blood, and Cult), and many other familiar faces in recurring roles (like Jeff Fahey from Lost).

Bottom line?  At the end of the pilot, I was ready to watch another episode.  In addition to the dome, there were a ton of characters to get to know better, and even a few mysteries with the townsfolk (like the stockpiling of propane, a kidnapping, a murder, etc).  But my guy was ready to watch the Falling Skies season finale, so Under the Dome had to wait.

We still haven’t gotten back to it, but I want to.  It definitely left me wanting more.  For that reason, I must award the new CBS sci-fi drama with the JFTV rating.  Perhaps after we catch a few more episodes, the ranking will rise…

Have you watched Under the Dome?  How do you feel it ranks compared to the other Stephen King made-for-TV adaptations, series, and/or movies?  I’d love to hear from you!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss today’s review, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

Friday FabOoolousness – A Writer’s Life….in Movies

Everyone loves movies, particularly writers.  Writers find it extremely helpful to use movies as tools to identify crucial elements to the story making process, and even better yet, as research.

So, why not reminisce about some of the recent decades’ most popular movies about writers? 

*****

Romancing the Stone (1984)

This widely successful film stars Kathleen Turner as fictional romance novelist, Joan Wilder. 

Joan is lonely, living with her cat in her New York City apartment, when she receives a phone call from her recently widowed sister who claims to have been kidnapped by antiquities smugglers. As ransom, the smugglers demand a treasure map that Joan received in the mail from her brother-in-law.

Ransom demand in hand, Joan sets off to Cartagena, Colombia.  After a bit of a wild and crazy detour, Joan learns that other criminals want this treasure map as well.  She meets Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) and he promises to guide her through the jungle for a small monetary fee, not aware of what he’s gotten himself into. 

After sharing a romantic exchange, Joan and Jack decide to follow the map on their own.  They find a beautiful emerald, but not before one of the kidnappers (Danny DeVito) finds them.   One thing leads to another; Joan finally exchanges the stone for her sister, and shares her adventures in Cartagena by writing a novel when she returns to the city. 

Romancing the Stone has romance, action, suspense, and comedy.   In 1985, the movie was followed by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, also starring Turner, Douglas, and DeVito.   

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all writers encountered a love affair, mystery, or adventure of our own to help push us through our stories?

*****

Her Alibi (1989)

Tom Selleck stars as Phil Blackwood, a fictional mystery novelist who meets his muse while sitting in a courtroom.  Blackwood forges an alibi for Nina (supermodel Paulina Porizkova), the beautiful Romanian woman accused of murder, and she is released into his custody. 

Blackwood takes Nina back to his house and begins plotting his story as he fantasizes himself in the role of his protagonist living with a mysterious woman.  Suspicions set in, however, after a police detective pays him a visit and places doubts in Blackwood’s head about Nina’s innocence.  Blackwood further questions just how well he knows this woman after she throws a kitchen knife across the room, stabbing and killing a bug crawling up a cabinet just inches from his face.

Not knowing if he’s made the right decision to protect this woman, and definitely not able to stop his romantic feelings for her, Blackwood follows Nina to a clown festival where they encounter the Romanian operatives responsible for the crime in which she was accused. 

How far will writers go to find the ever-important muse?

*****

Misery (1990)

Based on Stephen King’s novel, Misery stars James Caan as fictional novelist, Paul Sheldon.

On his way to deliver a new novel to his publicist, a story not related to the successful series that his readership has grown to admire, Sheldon crashes his car deep in the desolate woods during a blizzard.  Badly bruised and with multiple broken bones, including both legs, Sheldon is rescued by Annie (Kathy Bates), a nurse who just so happens to be his number one fan. 

Grateful for her hospitality, Sheldon agrees to let Annie read his new novel.  Unfortunately for Sheldon, she doesn’t like the new story and is offended by his language.  This disappointment sends Annie into a crazed tailspin where she obsesses about other mistakes in his storytelling; she tortures him, drugs him, spills hot soup on him, forces him to burn his manuscript, and finally takes a sledgehammer to his ankles.

Eventually, Sheldon escapes, and the movie ends just as he meets another number one fan…

Writers, how painful would it be to be forced to burn one of our manuscripts?  Does this story make us re-evaluate the importance of a “number one” fan?    

*****

Secret Window (2004)

Based on another Steven King story, Secret Window, Secret Garden, this psychological thriller stars Johnny Depp as fictional author, Mort Rainey. 

Secret Window keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, watching as Rainey spends most of his days alone in his cabin, agonizing over his wife’s (Maria Bello) affair which has created an untimely case of writer’s block. 

What’s worse than a writer suffering from writer’s block?  Being accused of plagiarism, of course. 

Rainey doesn’t believe he, the successful writer, stole the work of his crazed accuser (played by the great John Turturro).  After his dog is murdered, Rainey hires a private investigator (Charles S. Dutton) to look after the man. 

The movie takes an interesting turn when it’s revealed that Rainey is actually suffering from an identify disorder and has assumed the role of his character.  He lives out his story first hand by imagining the man accusing him of plagiarism, and by seeking revenge against his unfaithful wife and her lover (Timothy Hutton), thus overcoming his writer’s block. 

Are writers really this crazy?

*****

Did you enjoy any of these movies? What other movies about writers do you enjoy?  Writers, do you use movies and television programs as research for your stories?  I’d love to hear from you!

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