First off, it’s great to be back after a two week hiatus! I thought of all of you from my death bed last Tuesday. Okay, maybe that’s a SLIGHT exaggeration. The sinus infection that knocked me back isn’t completely gone, but I was well enough to travel to the Alamo Drafthouse last Wednesday to view a screening of the 1976 classic Carrie, which was sponsored by SNAP! Productions (@SNAPOmaha). More on SNAP! in a moment…
This was my first time at the Alamo Drafthouse. For those who haven’t been, it’s a must. Not only do they have bottomless popcorn and pop, they have a full menu, complete with adult beverages. And they employ waiters to bring your order to your table so you don’t have to get up and leave the movie. Dinner and a movie – why I haven’t been sooner I have no idea, but I’ll certainly be back.
Alamo did a wonderful job of getting you in the frame of mind for the movie. Before the screening they ran some classic movie trailers including the De Palma epic Phantom of the Paradise (which I had never heard of but is now on my must watch list), Prom Night (starring Jamie Lee Curtis), and High School USA (starring a bevy of 80s TV actors including Michael J Fox, Dana Plato, Nancy McKeon and Todd Bridges).
“They’re all going to laugh at you” – Margaret White
Finally it came time for the feature presentation, and the reason I dragged my sick ass out of bed – Carrie. Even if you haven’t seen the movie (and who hasn’t?) you’ve at least seen the famous prom scene. It’s what made Carrie, well, Carrie.
But Carrie is more than just a story of a girl with telekinetic power who gets revenge at the prom. At it’s core it’s about a teenage girl who is bullied by her classmates to the point where she snaps. How many times have we read about teenagers who commit suicide because their peers bullied them so much on social media? In the case of Carrie she was picked on and humiliated because she grew up with an overbearing, religious zealot of a mother whose own guilt over sex outside of marriage caused her to view her illegitimate daughter as a monster?
The simple act of not telling her daughter about menustration, in addition to ostercizing her from her classmates because she was “different” and “special”, set the stage for her classmates to pick on her. And pick on her they did. The shower scene at the beginning of the movie, when Carrie gets her period and freaks out because she thinks she is dying, is a classic case of mob mentality – one girl starts to make fun of Carrie and pretty soon they all join in, throwing tampons and pads at poor Carrie White, who huddles in a corner of a shower stall.
Yes, it is billed as a horror film (it is based upon the novel written by horror master Stephen King). Carrie receives the ultimate public shaming at her prom when a bucket of pig’s blood is dumped on her by her nemesis Chris Hargensen. Carrie, now in full control of her telekinetic power, exacts revenge by destroying the gym and everyone in it – friend and foe alike. The death scenes range from electrocution to walls collapsing to girders slamming into people before a massive fire engulfs the building.
She goes home to seek comfort from her mother, but even then, there is none. In the end, even her own mother turns against her. And so Carrie exacts her revenge on her mother.
I mentioned earlier that we too often see headlines where bullied teenagers commit suicide. We’ve seen the other side as well – bullied teenagers who exact revenge on the world who bullied them – the German 18 year old who killed nine people at a Munich shopping center in 2016, the Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech massacres, and Westley Alan Dodd, who kidnapped and brutally murdered three boys just to name a few.
Each of these crimes of revenge were horrors unto themselves. In that light Carrie is more than just a typical horror film about a telekinetic girl who kills everyone at the prom. The book was published in 1974. The movie came out in 1976. Here we are, some 43 years after the book was pulled out of the trash by King’s wife and saved, and bullying is a still a problem. The Munich massacre happened last year. LAST YEAR. Bullying is still an epidemic. Kids are being harassed on social media to the point where they kill themselves or kill others. Perhaps we should look beyond the “horror” that is Carrie and look at the horror that is bullying.
And now back to SNAP! Productions and a shameless plug – Carrie had an infamous SHORT run on Broadway as a musical back in 1988. It was wildly panned and is still considered one of the biggest Broadway flops in history. Undeterred, the writers went back to the drawing board. Carrie the Musical was revived (pun intended) in 2012 with mixed results. However, it has gained somewhat of a cult following in the regional community theater scene.
This week marks the third week of a four week run of Carrie the Musical at SNAP! Productions. Director Todd Brooks has assembled a heck of a cast of young adults for the production. The music is very energetic and Jason Delong’s choreography is outstanding. Josh Mullady’s lighting is breathtaking. And yes, there’s pig’s blood.
SNAP is an intimate 55 seat theatre located at 33rd and California. Tickets are still available for the show. Come on down to the prom if you get a chance – it’ll be a night you’ll never forget!