Sunday, April 27, 2014

The "Carrie" Remake: Even If You've Seen It, You Haven't Seen It

I'm a lifelong movie fan.  One of my earliest memories involves seeing The Wizard of Oz on television and being so scared by the giant floating Wizard head that I went and hid behind the couch for a while.  I've got numerous other early-life memories involving movies to go along with that one (not all of them pleasant), and have continued making movie-related reminiscences at a steady pace ever since.

Like most people, I tend to think of movies as existing in a definitive form.  Let me explain: when I say, for instance, "The Wizard of Oz," what I mean is "the 1939 MGM film titled The Wizard of Oz, which runs about 102 minutes in length and is mostly color with a bit of sepia-tone (or black-and-white) at the beginning and the end."  We all experience essentially the same movie, no matter where we see it, how we see it, or when we see it; so when we think "The Wizard of Oz" the odds are good that that is what we are thinking of.

The truth, however, is far from that simple.  There were several sequences filmed for the movie that did not make it into the final edit, including an entire musical number called "The Jitterbug."  Also, the Scarecrow's introductory scene was initially much longer, and included a fun gag with a gigantic pumpkin.  The Jitterbug sequence is apparently lost for all time, but the extended version of the Scarecrow's scene survived, and is included on most DVD and Blu-ray versions as a bonus for fans.  I felt a sort of mental disconnect upon seeing that deleted footage for the first time; I'd been a massive fan of the movie for almost literally as long as I could remember, and had seen the movie dozens of times.  Glimpsing "new" footage was both thrilling and oddly off-putting.  What was this stuff?!?  Where did it come from?!?  Had I somehow peeked into a different universe of some sort?  I knew better, but what I knew and what I felt were not entirely in sync.

What I had gotten a peek into was the creative process.  Which, to be fair, is a bit like getting a peek into a separate universe; Stephen King's Dark Tower series could speak to that idea, and Alan Moore has practically made a career out of exploring the concept.

The fact is that most movies exist in that multi-faceted fashion.  We may or may not ever see any of the footage that the filmmakers decide (for one reason or another) to cut out; but rest assured that unless a movie consists of a single take with no edits, there is footage that gets eliminated.  Some directors are known for their propensity toward filming multiple takes of a single scene; some actors are known for their propensity toward never giving the same performance from one take to the next.  A person who had access to ALL of the footage from movies made by those sorts of artists could almost certainly create edits that were, in effect, wholly different films from the one released to cinemas.

It's a weird thing to consider, isn't it?  We think of movies as being written in stone, but in fact, they are written in eminently-erasable pencil.  And if someone with the money and power to do so were to decide to wield an eraser?  Well, ask George Lucas fans about that; they can tell you all about what happens next.

Within my lifetime, the craze for Director's Cuts (or extended cuts) of films has boomed.  From The Abyss to Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Blade Runner to Dune to the hugely successful extended cuts of the Lord of the Rings films to the much-panned (but even more successful) Special Editions of the original Star Wars trilogy, alternative edits of films have become much more common than they once were.  In some cases, those longer cuts took a perceived artistic failure and reversed that perception.

Which brings us to the 2013 version of Carrie, and its extended cut.




Sadly, there is no such thing as a Blu-ray Carrie Extended Cut.  Not yet, at any rate.  But from practically the moment the movie premiered last October, there have been rumors of a longer original cut that contains some two dozen scenes which were either omitted from the final cut altogether or were trimmed down considerably.  Including the one that was released theatrically, there are also a minimum of four different endings, all of which allegedly screened for test audiences at various points in the editorial process.

So the footage certainly exists, and so does a fan movement to see a Blu-ray release of a longer cut of the film that incorporates as much of that footage as possible.  We're going to talk about some of that footage today, and we're also going to talk to the fan who has spearheaded the movement.

Before we go much further, I first ought to direct you toward a very good write-up that appeared at Talk Stephen King.  Titled "What Happened to Carrie?," it is a solid overview of the petition (which itself can be found here).  So go check that out and come back.  I'll wait.

Dum-de-dum-da-dum ... da-dum-da-dum-dum, dum-de-dah-dah-dum ... de-dum-dum-dum-dum ... dah-de-dum-da-dam ... de-dah-dah-dum-dum-dummmmmm... 

Oh!  You're back.  Alright then.

Let's talk about what's known of the deleted footage, one scene at a time.

#1 -- The Rain of Stones:

The film was originally intended to begin with a scene from the novel in which a young Carrie observes a neighbor, Estelle Horan (not one of King's more subtle character names, that...), sunbathing in a bikini.




  
  
Carrie points at the girl's breasts and says, "You have dirty pillows," and Estelle -- remarkably unflapped by the odd turn of phrase -- assures her that all women have breasts.  Nope, says Carrie, only bad girls have them.  Margaret shows up and chastises Carrie, accuses Estelle of being a slut, and gets told off by Estelle's mother.  Carrie is loudly crying, and soon, hail begins falling.  It does some damage to the house, and the idea (obviously) is that Carrie has caused this event to happen.

The scene is one of several included on the Blu-ray release (and can, for now, be found on YouTube), and it is easy to see why the scene was replaced: it just doesn't work very well.  The current beginning -- Margaret giving birth to Carrie -- was added during reshoots, and it is in every way a stronger and more memorable opening to the film.  On the Blu-ray, Peirce provides commentary for each of the deleted scenes, and she mentions this as being one that not only failed to begin the movie in an exciting fashion, but also brought up questions about how long Carrie has had her powers, how much Margaret knew about them, and so forth.  That's a fair point; if you instead hint toward the idea that it is the onset of Carrie's menstrual cycle that triggers her powers, that brings with it an extremely powerful psychological element that the hail-stone sequence does not.

Peirce also mentions that the scene fails to serve as a strong introduction for Margaret; I'm unable to argue with her there, either.
   

On the whole, I think I have to admit that replacing the sequence was a good move.  The scene never quite comes together, and is sort of flat and weightless.  I can't quite put my finger on why that is.  We don't get a sense that Carrie is responsible for the hail; intellectually, we probably know it, but we don't feel it.  It has no impact on us.  Nor, really, does Carrie's gazing at Estelle.  Margaret's anger comes across relatively well; Julianne Moore is good.  Otherwise, though, the scene is lifeless, and it's easy to see why the decision to remove it was made.  Could it work in an extended cut?  Maybe.  But it isn't a slam-dunk.
  

I'd also add that the actress who plays young Estelle, Vanessa Smythe, bears a passing resemblance to Portia Doubleday, who plays Chris.  It would not surprise me at all to find out that some test-screening audiences were confused as to why the girl in the bikini showed up again later in the movie, seemingly the same age while Carrie was much older.

[Side-bar: Brian DePalma shot a version of this scene for the 1976 film, and it, too, hit the cutting-room floor.  Sissy Spacek actually played the six-year-old version of Carrie!  I'd love to see that footage someday.]

#2 -- The White Commission:

Back on the subject of the above-mentioned scene with Estelle and Carrie: it seems likely that the original intent was to bookend the two-minute scene with additional footage of an older Estelle testifying in front of the White Commission.  If so, the viewpoint added by that framing device might have given the scene a stronger impact.

Either way, the White Commission investigation definitely was intended to have a greater presence in the film, and would have been woven into the narrative throughout the film.  Readers of King's novel will recognize that approach; King uses it extensively in the book, and it is one of my favorite elements of the novel.  However, there seems to have been some concern that using it in the movie gave away a bit too much about who would eventually live and who would die, therefore robbing the movie of some of its suspense.

I suppose I can see how that would be the case.  It's the case with the novel, too.  However, King does not reveal things willy-nilly; he is always careful to do so in a way that causes a specific impact on the reader.  If he lets you know that someone survives (or doesn't survive) the Black Prom, it's because he wants you to know it, and wants your knowledge to color your feelings about what is happening in certain scenes.  Suspense is not necessarily his goal; character empathy is.  There's no reason why the same device can't function the same way on film; editing, as a tool, actually makes that a relatively easy task to achieve.

However, if the White Commission footage didn't tantalize in the same way the novel's equivalent passages do, then those scenes could well have ground the film to a halt every time they popped up.  If that was the opinion of the various people controlling the film's destiny, it would be a logical decision to excise the White Commission scenes from the final cut.  Bear in mind that I have no idea whether that was the case; it's merely a hypothesis.

None of those scenes are on the Blu-ray, and currently, all we have of them is the brief segment with Sue at the end of the theatrical cut.

Obviously, this is one of the elements proponents of an extended cut -- myself included -- most want to see.

#3 -- The found footage filmed by Freddy "The Beak" Holt:

One of the first bits of news to come out about this new version of Carrie was that the movie would incorporate a found-footage element into the story.  Way back in April of 2012, MGM CEO Roger Birnbaum was talking about the movie in that way, much to the consternation of "fans" who have no ability to understand that a filmmaking technique is merely that: a technique.  Like all techniques, it can be used well, or it can be used poorly; but it is not, in and of itself, a good or a bad thing.

That piece of harsh reality spoken, it does not seem that there was ever any intent for the entire film to be told in a found-footage format.  Doing so would be difficult, given that so much of the film consists of scenes inside the White home, which is one of the least likely places on Earth for someone to be constantly filming every aspect of their daily life.  It was obviously going to instead be a device used to present certain aspects of school life and the prom, and it was "The Beak" through whom much of that was going to be accomplished.




It is unclear how much of that footage was filmed, so it just as unclear how heavily an extended cut could be affected by it.

#4 -- "Scenes detailing more in-depth character development":

Presumably this refers to Carrie and to Margaret at a minimum; but it could also refer to scenes involving the other major characters (Sue, Tommy, Chris, Billy, Miss Desjardin), or even some of the minor ones (Tina, Heather, Liz, Nicky, George, Erika, Freddy, Jackie, etc.).

Since much of Peirce's best work on the film involved character moments, this is perhaps the footage that I personally am the most anxious to see.

One possible example can be found on the Blu-ray in an alternate version of the scene in which Billy suggests that Chris and Tina kiss each other.  In the theatrical cut, Tina pretends she is going to do it, and then teasingly pulls away.  In the alternate version, she goes right ahead with it.



  
Peirce makes it fairly clear in the commentary track that she wanted more sex in the film; from her point of view, it is the characters' sexuality -- Carrie's, Sue's, Chris's, and so forth -- that is just as responsible for moving the story forward as anything else is.  I couldn't agree more, and I think it's too bad that Peirce wasn't able to get her wishes in this regard.

#5 -- Chris confronts Carrie at the pool:

In an extended version of the pool scene, Chris says "Wipe that smile off your face" to Carrie.  Carrie was watching Sue and Tommy kiss outside the pool, and began smiling; Chris walks up to her and quite brutally tells her to wipe the smile off her face.  I think this was in one of the trailers, but wouldn't swear to it, and am also too lazy to research it.  I know for a fact, though, that an image from that version of the scene came out at some point well before release.  I present it now for your edification:




We tend to think of deleted scenes as being wholly-excised scenes, but it's just as common for small trims to be made within a scene.  That's obviously what this is.  But a trim of just a few seconds can totally reframe the intent and impact of a sequence; don't underestimate the potential power of those small moments.  In this particular case, I think the moment was probably cut because it made Chris seem too mean for no reason.  When she tells Carrie she eats shit, at least it's prompted by a tangible something (Carrie hitting Sue with the ball); here, it seemingly comes out of nowhere.

A good trim, says I.

#6 -- extended locker-room sequence:

A shot of Chris turning her phone toward her and toward the rest of the girls during Carrie's shower-floor lamentation was evidently removed.  I don't know why on Earth that would have been cut out, actually.  Tina actually refers to her own presence in the video Chris posts prior to her posting it.  (I actually just used the word "actually" in two consecutive sentences, which is ill-advised.  What can I say?  I'm a hack.)

I'd be especially curious to see this footage just to see if I could form a hypothesis as to why it had been trimmed out of the final cut.

#7 -- "scenes involving social media":

There were evidently going to be some scenes involving Facebook, and an email from Chris to Donna Kellogg, a friend who is never seen, but only referenced via correspondence from Chris.  This comes straight of the novel; Chris writes a letter to Donna, saying that "I guarantee you everyone is going to get a big fucking surprise" the night of the prom.  I think it's pretty cool that they would have put this tiny bit into the movie, and it makes complete sense that instead of writing a letter, Chris would have IMed her, or texted her, or something like that.

However, since we already know Chris is planning something, the scene probably didn't carry any crucial weight.  Still, I'd like to see it, just because I like Portia Doubleday's performance as Chris so much.  And actually, now that I think of it, too much of the plot feels like Billy's idea; having this evidence from Donna would have helped tip the scales back toward Chris a bit.

#8 -- "Billy's wild ride":

This is one of the scenes included on the Blu-ray (and, consequently, on YouTube, at least for now), and it really bums me out that this scene was cut.  I can't come up with an idea as to why it was cut, in fact.  On her commentary track, Peirce makes a reference to the scene maybe going on too long; but she also sounds like she really loves the scene.  What gives?  Pressures to get the film's runtime to a specific length, maybe?

Here's what happens in the scene (which is a reworked version of the same scene from the 1976 movie): Chris and Billy are in the car together, driving around.  In the '76 film, they are indulging in a little American Graffiti-style cruising (complete with Martha and the Vandellas singing "Heat Wave," which was not in American Graffiti but could have been, so much so that it DID make it into the sequel, More American Graffiti); but in the '13 film, they have a purpose: they are looking for Carrie's house.





They never find it; they get distracted by Chris accusing Billy of being stupid.  This gets his temper up a bit, and he decides to preen for his lady by driving like a maniac: he runs red lights, cuts in front of a bus, and goes tearing through a store's parking lot.  After this, Chris still calls him stupid, so he stops the car, gets out in a huff, and sulks.  (In DePalma's version, Billy doesn't get out of the car; he smacks Chris in the face for calling him stupid one time too many.)  In order to get back in his good graces -- or, more likely, re-exert her control over him -- Chris decides to suck his dick.  As she begins doing so, she says (again, in an echo of '76) "I . . . fucking . . . hate Carrie White."

"Who?!?" says Billy.

Oddly, the "who" bit seems to have been ADRed in, by which I mean that it looks as if Billy initially said something else, and the word "who" was used instead in editing.  I think Billy actually says "why," or maybe "what?"  Check the footage yourself and see what you think.  Billy certainly says "who" in the '76 film, though; it's one of that movie's better comedic moments.
  
#9 -- An interaction between Carrie and Chris outside the dress shop:

I definitely want to see this some day!  Not, sadly, included on the Blu-ray.  I found a behind-the-scenes image on the petition's Facebook page, though.  Here 'tis:




#10 -- The confrontation between Sue and the mean girls:

I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds intriguing.  Peirce speaks in the commentary track (for the film in general, mind you, not for this scene, which is not included on the Blu-ray) about how she worked in a theme of Carrie and Sue "exchanging places" over the course of the movie; i.e., as Carrie begins to grow more assured and look more beautiful, Sue begins to becomes less confident and looks more haggard.  The idea of Sue being bullied at some point would fit in with that theme pretty well.

Again, this is footage I'd love to see someday.

#11 -- Drive to the pig farm (extended):

This is another of the scenes that is included on the Blu-ray (and viewable on YouTube).  You've got to like any scene that begins with the line, "Why won't you tell me what we're doing in the middle of nowhere with your retard friends?"  Not retarded friends; retard friends.  That, for me, is what really sells it; the power of a missing syllable, ladies and gentlemen...
 
 
 


Jackie tells her she can't call them that, and you sense that he's about to say something about how it isn't PC.  "It's like a retard convention in here," Chris insists, denying poor Jackie of his opportunity to speak on behalf of the mentally handicapped.

This consists only of about thirty seconds tacked onto the beginning of the pig-farm sequence, but I really wish Peirce had left it in; and to be honest, her commentary makes it sound like she wishes it was still in, too.  In the final cut, there doesn't seem to be enough context to the group being at the farm, nor is there ANY context behind the other two guys being there.  The extended version of the sequence establishes that these are Billy's friends who Chris does not particularly like, and also establishes -- or, if the "Billy's wild ride" is also taken into consideration, re-emphasizes -- that Billy is acting here out of Chris's desire to pay Carrie back.

#12 -- Carrie levitates Margaret (extended):

Blu-ray, check; YouTube, check.  Essentially, this version of the levitation scene shows Carrie whipping Margaret around in the air a bit.  The effects don't work very well at all, which is probably why the scene was trimmed down.  Peirce seems to like the scene more than I do, though, and her intent was for Carrie to have to resort to shaking Margaret to keep her from speaking a prayer of exorcism.

I vastly prefer the theatrical cut's version of this scene, personally; your mileage may vary.

#13 -- Carrie and Miss Desjardin have a "meaningful conversation" at prom:

After Tommy walks away, Carrie and her gym teacher have a talk.  Presumably, this is Desjardin telling Carrie about her own prom experience.  Is there more to it than that?  Maybe we'll find out someday.

#14 -- Tommy and Carrie kissing:

Blu-ray, check; YouTube, check.

Chris, obviously heartbroken to not be for-real attending the prom, looks wistfully down on the party.




Meanwhile, Carrie and Tommy slow-dance.  Tommy bends his lips toward hers, and she flinches.




Tommy apologizes to Carrie; Carrie apologizes to Tommy.  "I can't do anything right," she says, frustratedly, but Tommy insists that she's doing everything right.  They share a moment, and then share a very short, but sweet kiss.  As they pull away from each other, the light from a nearby photo being taken illuminates Carrie's face for just long enough to allow me to get a couple of angelic screencaps from it.






Marco Beltrami's score is effective here, too, and the fact that he scored the scene at all means that this must have been a very late cut indeed.  Why it was eliminated is a mystery to me.  This scene lasts only a minute, but Carrie's evident joy -- and Tommy's, for that matter -- increases the tragedy greatly.




Peirce offers no particular explanation as to why the scene was cut.  I suspect she wanted it to stay.  She cites it as another example of how the kids' sexuality is ruling the day.

I dunno, man; there is NOTHING about this scene that doesn't work for me.  Of all the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray, this is the one that most vexes me in its absence from the theatrical cut (alternate ending included).

#15 -- Billy kisses Chris:

Blu-ray, check; YouTube, check.

This is an extended version of a scene that is still in the movie.  I would speculate that it was trimmed down because the original intent was to juxtapose this not-terribly-pleasant kiss (Chris wipes Billy's saliva off her mouth at the end of it) with the much more romantic one shared between Carrie and Tommy.  That's sheer speculation on my part, of course.

#16 -- Margaret escaping from the closet and cutting herself:

This is partially included on the Blu-ray (check it out here): we don't see her escape the closet, but we do see her sharpening a knife, whispering "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," and then giving herself a Klingon-style palm wound.




There's nothing wrong with this thirty-second scene; Moore gets to be creepy, which is cool.  However, Peirce says that she thought it was best for Margaret's escape from the closet to be as much a surprise to the audience as it was to Carrie when she got home.  Much of the audience will already know, of course; but still, doing things this way has the effect of keeping us very firmly in Carrie's point of view, and therefore empathetic with her, which is a very effective way of telling the story.

So, again, I'd list this as a good cut.  But I'm happy to see the scene on the Blu-ray, too; in isolation, it works fine.

#16 -- Sue calls Tommy from outside the prom:

But he rejects the call!

Presumably, this snippet was intended to illustrate that Tommy was falling for Carrie a bit, and felt conflicted about talking to Sue while it was happening.  It's not on the Blu-ray, though, so I can't say for sure.

#17-20 -- extended prom massacre:

Allegedly, the original cut contained much more violence and brutality during the prom-massacre scene.  Among the excisions were moments explaining what happened to George and Erika; Carrie killing some prom survivors who are outside the gym (!); more of Tina on fire; and so forth.  (The Tina-on-fire bit not only gets a deleted scene, it gets some slow-motion footage of the stunt being filmed.  It's a damn good fire stunt, too; it's good to see the stunt performer getting soe attention for it.)

Peirce speaks, on her commentary track, to the idea of Carrie focusing her rage on students whom she knows to be associates of Chris's and Billy's, whereas the longer version may have not been that discriminate in terms of who Carrie was killing.  Freddy "The Beak" Holt -- who was not involved with the mean girls at all -- apparently died originally, and the idea of Carrie killing people who have already gotten outside seems much more brutal than what we have in the theatrical cut.

I'm of two minds about this.  On the one hand, I like the idea of Carrie losing control of her powers, but not totally losing that control, so that she is at least able to restrict herself to killing specific people whom she targets.  There was some disagreement on that in the comments to my previous review, but in my mind, that helps keep her at least somewhat sympathetic and relatable, which, I guess, is part of my conception of the character of Carrie White.
  
Don't misunderstand me: even if you're only killing "guilty" people, mass-murder is unacceptable and unsympathetic.  But on the Richter scale of horrific crime, killing in retribution registers a lower reading than simply killing indiscriminately with no regard toward whether your victims have (in your perception) done you harm or not.  Both acts are bad; one is slightly less bad than the other, is what I'm saying.
 
It's a tricky proposition either way, and I can understand why there may have been some controversy in-house in terms of how to present the scene.  I can imagine the edit ending up as we currently have it being due to studio pressure; I can just as easily imagine it being due to Peirce wanting to shape the scene toward a specific goal.

Either way, this seems to be one of the areas of the film that stands to be changed the most by an extended cut.

#21 -- Sue sees Tommy's body:

Sue sees Tommy's corpse being brought out on a stretcher, and Miss Desjardin says she's sorry for what has happened.

Not having seen this footage, I can't say for sure, but it strikes me as false that Desjardin would apologize to Sue, or even express remorse.  It seems more likely that, given her previously-stated concerns over what would happen if Tommy took Carrie to the prom, she would blame Sue in some way; and maybe even assume that Sue and Tommy had been involved in creating the prank that sparked it.  Would that not be a logical conclusion for her to come to?  I think it be so logical that it'd practically be Vulcan.

If so, then that could easily explain this scene being excised.

#22 -- The town's destruction:

Evidently -- I've used that word too many times during this post, but evidently I'm gonna keep right on using it -- Carrie destroyed much more of the town in the original cut.  I bear Chamberlain no ill will, but I was hoping to see more of the novel's scope reflected in this new movie, mainly because it's creepy and effective on the page.  Maybe whatever was filmed didn't work?  Maybe.  More likely that Peirce just wanted to get Carrie home as quickly as possible, so as not to delay what she saw as being the true confrontation.

#23 -- Margaret's death scene:

Supposedly, this was originally closer to the book's equivalent scene, in which Carrie stops her mother's heart using her telekinetic powers, and then wanders out into the street, where she dies of her wounds at Sue's feet.

What did the original version of the scene as Peirce shot it consist of?  No clue.  I read a draft of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's screenplay, though, and it has Margaret dying by multiple-knife impalement.  Did Peirce go away from that concept, only to return to it during reshoots (which is where the theatrical cut's death scene came from)?  That is unclear.

Speaking of that screenplay . . . I am strongly tempted to write a lengthy review of it.  But since it is not readily available for public consumption, I'd feel bad to write much about it.  I'll say this about it, though: it has some good points to it, and it has some bad points to it, and it is both similar to and very different from the final film.  If you're a serious Carrie fan, it is well worth your time to read it.

If you can find a copy, of course.

#24 -- the alternate endings:

Let's have a look at a screengrab from an IMDb post on the subject (which I have stolen from that earlier-reference Talk Stephen King post):




So, we've got three endings described above: (1) one implying Carrie is still alive beneath the rubble of the house; (2) one which ends on a down note by merely showing the tombstone; and (3) the jump-scare shocker ending, in which Sue has a nightmare of giving birth and of having Carrie's bloody arm come out of her hoo-hah and grab Sue's arm.  Which sounds ridiculous, but is actually fairly effective.




The ending of the theatrical cut seems, to me, identical to the second ending described above, but with some CGI and sound effects added on to simulate the tombstone cracking, presumably as the result of Carrie's telekinetic power.  Does this mean Carrie is still alive underground somewhere beneath the tomb?  What sense would that make?  It's a weird, non-committal end to an otherwise pretty-good flick, and it bums me out that of the various endings, they picked one that settles for not doing much of anything.  The first clearly tries to establish the possibility of a sequel; the second is content to be merely reflective; and the third goes for a similar effect to the '76 film, but without outright aping it.

The third ending is included on the Blu-ray, not as a separate scene, but as a branching option added onto the film itself, by which I mean that you can just flat-out watch the movie with that ending if you so choose.  And I will almost certainly choose so from this point forward; it's a cool ending, and it's definitely my preference.  Peirce's, too, since she provides commentary for it.

On one of the Facebook sites linked to on the petition, I found the following image:




The comments thread for the image reveals that it is a shot that lasts literally for only a single frame (that's 1/24th of a second long, for those of you who are not film nerds) during the alternate ending.  I was not initially able to verify that by simply watching the scene, so I went frame by frame, and sure enough, there it is for a lone frame during the 1:35:39 mark.  I even took a photo of my tv with the image paused on it:


That's a Rango stuffed animal behind the television, and Game of Thrones discs beneath it.  And yes, I know; my television is tiny.  Best I can do, y'all.


If you want to watch the alternate ending, you can do so here.  It's lousy quality -- what you're getting is someone literally pointing their camera at the screen as the scene plays -- but it's better than not seeing it at all.  I guess.

And with that, we bring our discussion of the deleted footage to a close.  There's a good bit of it, and some of it seems to have the potential to reshape the film into a very different form.

Personally, I'd love to see it, and would be more than happy to buy a new Blu-ray that contained such a cut.  So for my sake if not your own, go sign the petition and let Sony know that you're out there.

And if you are interested in all of this, I really cannot strongly enough emphasize how much treasure there is at the petition's Facebook page.  Way more than I've delved into here, for sure.

*****

Speaking of that Facebook page, I would now like to present to you a conversation I had with Charles Richards, the fan who created the petition (and the Facebook page) and has been relentlessly doing his best to keep it in the public eye.

BryantWhat is your personal history with the various iterations of Carrie?

CharlesI’ve known Carrie White since I was little, truthfully.  I first experienced the story when I was younger and the 2002 NBC television remake first aired as part of a pilot for what might have been, but never was, a weekly series.  My mom had seen the original film and talked about how comparatively different this newer one was; she mentioned Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie -- saying that their performances were amazing.  My mom isn’t a huge horror fan and so I knew this must have been something remarkable for her to talk about in a positive light.  We watched the 2002 version together and I was in complete awe by the story, sympathetic to Carrie and her struggles, touched.  Christmas wasn’t that far off and I hoped beyond hope that a copy of Carrie 2002 would be waiting for me under the tree.

It was maybe a year later when my mom ordered the 1976 version from a movie catalog.  And when it finally arrived in the mail, I was thrilled.  It was chilling the first time or two, watching it.  It was more graphic and disturbing, the locker room scene especially, and overall, much darker and intense than I expected -- Sissy Spacek’s eyes were really chilling during the prom destruction.  I felt as though she were looking right through me.  I think it’s a very special actor or actress who can touch and affect an audience that way.  

I saw most of the 1988 Broadway Musical and the entire 2012 Off-Broadway Revival via YouTube.  I think it says a lot for the story when a film of the horror genre can go on to become a musical production.  There’s something special there!  I think Carrie has become so much more than just a stereotypical horror film -- it has spoken to countless people for nearly forty years, saying something profound about bullying.  I don’t think we should put too much of a political spin on Carrie, but we can’t escape the fact that bullying in our society has come to such a high degree where kids are attempting or succeeding at committing suicide.  Many victims of bullying won’t choose to hurt themselves, but instead lash out toward others, and though not with telekinesis, but they can cause great destruction.  It’s a sad cycle all around.  I think Carrie serves a purpose in showing what happens to people when they fight cruelty with revenge -- it just doesn’t work.  We ALL know what happened to Carrie at the end -- only one adaptation out of the several allowed her to live afterwards.

Bryant:  Have you read the novel?

Charles:  I’ve read the Stephen King novel three times and it’s brilliant, truly brilliant.  I kind of see it as a detective novel; in that you really learn what happened through the investigation and personal recollections of those who survived The Black Prom.  It’s quite different from the movie versions -- more violent, dark, twisted.  When I heard, back in 2011, that a closer adaptation of the novel was being made, it was still in the early stages of production.  I was at the theatre with a friend who told me about the new film during the intermission, he had read about it a day or two earlier.  I followed this for almost three years, even checking Google news updates once or twice or even three times a day for any new information regarding the film.  My biggest thing was seeing the White Commission, the town destruction, and of course, who doesn’t love some great CGI?  I was anxious to see how different and modern this new take would be, while still remaining true to the essence of the source material.  

The teaser for the 2013 version could not have been better.  I knew from that short clip that this film was going to stand on its own -- with the town destruction and narrations from the White Commission confirming that this was going to be epic.  And even with all the dramatic cuts, all of what was shown in the teaser trailer now gone from the final version of the film, I still consider this latest Carrie to be my favorite.  I enjoyed the actors and how in depth they played each of their characters.  The CGI was awesome and entertaining to watch.  The great potential that this film had to be something unique makes it even more desirable to me; especially knowing that there’s an editing room full of unused footage.  For me, and I said this to everyone who asked my thoughts, my biggest issue is that it left me wanting more.  
  

BryantWhich ending do you prefer do you prefer?  The theatrical cut's ending or the alternate ending on the Blu-ray?
  
CharlesI know I’m in the minority on this one, but honestly, I did not prefer either ending.  Most fans have picked a side so-to-speak when it came to this issue, but both scenes felt lackluster.  The graveyard ending, with the stone cracking, felt very last-minute.  I didn’t think there was much of an intent with it other than to close the film -- I didn‘t really interpret any kind of meaning outside of this.  And the alternate ending echoed the 1976 version in a way that wasn’t desirable to me but instead predictable.  I had read a post from a member of the test audiences who commented that one version ended on a somber note with Sue saying something about Carrie not being a monster, but just a girl -- this voice-over can be heard in the teaser.  Seeing it and reading it are two different things, sure, but I much prefer the thought of a quieter ending to reflect the overall tragedy of the story.
  
BryantHow did the petition to see an extended cut of the film get started?
  
CharlesI saw the film four times in theaters and realized that something had to be done -- there needed to be a fan-effort to bring forth a Special Edition Extended Release on DVD/Blu-ray for Halloween 2014.  I didn’t know where to begin, having never done anything like this before.  I looked into a couple of petition websites and found one that was user-friendly.  It didn’t take long to put together and soon fans everywhere were signing and sharing the link.  A couple Facebook pages offered their help with promotion and that kind of got everything in motion.  I didn’t realize just how many other people felt the same way I did toward the film.  Upon further research, talking with other fans, speculation, even being acknowledged by some of the cast members, it became clearer that there were MANY scenes eliminated for seemingly no apparent reason.  It all confirmed that this effort was worthwhile. 

We were at nearly a thousand signatures when our petition, and every other petition on the website, was hacked.  Everything was shut down for a few hours and when it came back up, and this is hard to explain, but suddenly something didn’t feel right anymore.  It was like a horrible violation.  And though it was awful to do this, but to protect all of our identities and the e-mail addresses people had provided when signing, I deleted the entire petition and started over.  It was like being knocked down a flight of stairs.  But I wasn’t going to give up on Carrie or our hope as fans to see the extended version.  With a new website now hosting the petition, two Facebook pages dedicated toward ensuring an extended release -- one of which I admin, amazing fans helping out, some even making YouTube videos as commercials, and one amazing fan in particular who has paid for advertising on Facebook, the new petition has gained over three thousand signatures and counting.  Five thousand is the set goal right now, but merely as a starting point, because it’s going to need a lot more than that to ensure an extended release.  
  
BryantAre you a fan of Stephen King's work outside of Carrie?
  
CharlesStephen King is a remarkable writer, though I haven’t read much of his work.  Outside of Carrie, I’ve only read Misery. I’m a huge movie fan though and have seen many things based off his novels -- Misery, Dolores Claiborne, It, The Shining, The Green Mile, Carrie [that pretty much goes without saying].  Of course books and films are completely different and I can’t even begin to say that something filmed is better than written or vise-versa.  It is different, obviously.  Misery for example, the hobbling scene is more horrific in the book compared to the movie.  But the core of these movies are similar enough to the source material, presumably, for me to know that these stories come from a great writer.  I’ve talked with many different Stephen King fans, heard their opinions concerning certain films compared to the book, and though I’m no expert -- I do consider myself a fan.  If I had more time to spare for reading, there are quite a few Stephen King novels I’d love to read; Under the Dome being my first choice. 
  
BryantI don't know anyone who reads who doesn't also wish they had more time to actually SPEND reading, so welcome to the club!  Are you a fan of Kimberly Peirce's work outside of Carrie?
  
CharlesI didn’t even know who Kimberly Peirce was until it was announced that she would be directing Carrie. So I can’t really call myself a fan because Carrie is the only film of hers that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.  I know that her work on Boys Don’t Cry was quite startling for the late nineties and brought Trans-Issues more into the public light while telling the real-life story of Brandon Teena.  I think this type of boldness should be commended because there are some filmmakers who are simply too concerned with what others will think about their work.   It really comes down to what you need to say concerning a particular subject or story.   Obviously, directors must consider their audience and the pressures of the studios and so it’s a truly hard mix as an artist, I’m sure.  When you’re absolutely passionate enough about a story though, there should be no boundaries or restraints.  I felt that Kimberly Peirce was of that mind set, very character-oriented, and I absolutely respect someone like that and look up to them as an inspiration.
  
BryantWhat is it about the story of Carrie White, in your opinion, that has caused the story to be retold roughly once per decade since the novel's release?
  
CharlesIt’s timeless.  The book and the 1976 film may sound and look dated in respects of setting, language, and clothes, this is true, but they still speak of something very real and, unfortunately, something still present in our modern society -- bullying.  It’s a horror story at its core, yes, but there’s something else deeper which coexists with the horror aspect.  How many novels of this genre get three film adaptations, a sequel, two big budget musical productions, a drag musical, two Halloween costumes, action figures, and a large fan following for nearly forty years?  Not many.  I think the only thing Carrie hasn’t had yet is a cartoon adaptation.  Some have called it the Cinderella story gone horribly wrong and this is exactly how I view Carrie White.  There is no fairy Godmother coming to the rescue.  The ball is a complete disaster.  Prince Charming dies (from a falling bucket).   The step-mother figure of this twisted tale, Margaret, stops any chances of hope by trying to end her daughter’s life.  Carrie’s happily ever after simply can not exist, there’s nothing but doom -- no matter how much we may wish otherwise.  I think this dark Cinderella grabs a hold of us and refuses to let go.  That’s why it’s timeless.  I sincerely doubt the 2013 film is the last we’ve seen of Carrie or her nightmarish prom night. 
  
BryantI agree totally.  What can fans do to help the petition effort?
  
CharlesI’ve said from the very beginning that this petition is about the fans.  It’s always been about us and our desire to see an extended version of Carrie.  I’ve also said from the very beginning that this is a word of mouth effort.  We have to do all the footwork so-to-speak to ensure our objective.  There are so many ways to help out!  First and foremost: SIGN the petition [http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/carriepetition] and SHARE the link with your family and friends by posting it to your Facebook timeline or through mass e-mail.  Send mass e-mails outside of Facebook: via Yahoo, Google, AOL.  If you admin a Facebook fan-page, share the link with your followers.  You can also post the link to any Carrie, Stephen King, or horror-related pages/groups where fans might be interested in helping out.  You can also take to other forms of social media: Twitter [#Carrie or #CarriePetition or #CarrieExtendedCut with the link copied and pasted in the Tweet], Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, deviantART, Blogs, YouTube.  If you look up Carrie Petition on YouTube, you’ll find a lot of great videos that fans have made to help advertise the effort.  You can post the link in a review for the film on websites such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, etc.  You could post the link on a Discussion Board.  I don’t ask that any fan spend money to advertise, if one chooses to do this, it’s their prerogative.  There are many ways to help without using your wallet.  Though of course that gesture is appreciated, greatly, it’s still not required.  The biggest thing to remember: Share! Share! Share!
 
Bryant:  Charles, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and -- much more importantly -- for all the hard work you've put into the extended-cut movement.
  


*****
  
Charles was kind enough to also send me some images pertinent to the topic at hand, which I present to you now:



How cool is that?  I've read that screenplay; it makes for interesting reading, and while I don't like every facet of it, it's very obvious that Aguirre-Sacasa is a King fan.

Michelle Nolden's entire role -- she played an older Estelle during White Commission scenes -- was cut from the finished film.  It isn't an uncommon happening for actors, but it's still a shame that her work in the film has gone unseen.

Mouna Traor√©, who played Erika, evidently had a second scene.  Did she live?  Did she die?  Only your editor knows.

Connor Price played Freddy Holt, and it seems as if his storyline suffered massively at the cruel hands of Final Cut.



This full interview is well worth reading.  Here's a link.

Look at all this hard work people have been doing!  I feel like a slacker.  (This is not an uncommon feeling at the Truth Inside The Lie offices.)

Here's a Tweet from Samantha Weinstein, whose role as Heather seems to be been cut down substantially.
 
 
 
There's plenty more where that came from at the petition's Facebook page.  Go check it out, Like it, and sign the petition if you haven't done so already.  Tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!  Tell 'em The Truth Inside The Lie sent ya!

And, seriously, y'all . . . go sign that petition.  It's your birthday present to me.  And I want my presents.

Thanks in advance!

8 comments:

  1. I liked this film after being totally prepared not to like it (I have a strong prejudice against remakes). I liked it and, for the most part, thought it was a well made film.

    My biggest gripe about the editing was how short the shower scene was. DePalma used it to great effect. Peirce not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would agree with that for the most part, although the shower scene has impressed me more each time I've watched the movie.

      I don't necessarily share your prejudice against remakes, but you are certainly not alone; a lot of people do. All I ask from a remake is two things: that it be good, and that it have some quality that distinguishes it from it forerunner(s). I think this version of "Carrie" satisfies those requirements.

      Delete
  2. Those are generally my requirements as well and I agree with you that this remake of Carrie meets them. I noted that, in many ways, Cohen's second script improves upon his first. But Peirce is just not as good as Brian DePalma and that is the difference.That, and Chloe Moretz was just too attractive.

    Also, Margaret White was terribly underplayed. I also noted in my review that Piper Laurie's performance as Margaret White ranks among the best in the history of horror movies.That may sound like hyperbole, but I believe it strongly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll have to part ways on the subject of Piper Laurie; I think she is good in some scenes, but that she mostly overplays the role to the point of camp. Not for no reason did her take on that character spawn a Broadway musical, which then itself spawned a drag pardoy...

      Peirce is not the technical director that DePalma is (was?), that's true. But she is, for my money, a vastly superior director when it comes to depicting humanity.

      As for Moretz, I don't mind that she's attractive. I mean, Sissy Spacek wasn't exactly a dog-face, either. If there is a problem with Moretz's performance, it's that she's too assured, too confident. I don't think she comes across as a person who's been getting bullied her entire life. But despite that, I think she's really good.

      Delete
  3. I had no idea of the extent of any of this! Enjoyed the walkthrough and speculation and the wealth of other screencaps at the end. Hats off to Charles Richards, all around.

    Good lord - that single frame shot of Carrie holding the baby is terrifying and wonderful. Wow. And even doubly so on the tv-pic that follows it. Somehow that makes it even more The-Ring-like to me.

    On the tantalizing subject of films existing as a definitive arrangement of spacetime and the quantum complications that await once you complicate that, I think about this all. the. time. I wish I could say I've come to outstanding conclusions or interesting thoughts on it, but mainly I just surrender to the time travel and associative memories. (As you describe pretty well with your Wizard of Oz moments.) Diagnosable temporal synethesia - perhaps we're lucky to have it.

    All of which is to say, I remember the advent of the Director's Cut Age and that window of time where such things were real novelties. I don't think I've reflected on how taken for granted / standard practice that's become until right now, actually, except superficially. Anyway - I remember my buddy getting the director's cut LD of Aliens, and that really blew my mind. How was that possible??! I had no way of conceptualizing that - I mean, what was the movie I loved, then?

    Whereas now, it's definitely changed how I watch movies. I've skipped most of Ridley Scott's theatrical releases in the 21st century, for example, because I know I should just wait for the director's cut. (He's one that works for fairly consistently, but of course just an example)

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was "The Abyss" that did it for me, although the extended cut of "Aliens" is pretty great, too. Which reminds me that I never got around to watching the extended "Avatar." Cameron and Scott both certainly seem to benefit from it, and it's a toss-up (for me) as to whether "Blade Runner" or "The Abyss" is the gold standard of that trend.

      "Diagnosable temporal synethesia - perhaps we're lucky to have it." As far as we know, humans are the only creatures who are capable of it, so I tend to lean toward enjoying it.

      I don't think I really said anything of this nature in the post proper, but I wonder what the story is with that single frame of Carrie holding the baby. It seems unlikely to me that they would set up a scene like that strictly so a single frame of it could be dropped, in Tyler Durden-esque fashion, in the middle of a deleted scene. My guess is that it almost HAS to be from a deleted scene of its own, one that nobody has spilled the beans on yet.

      It's fascinating stuff, no doubt.

      Here's hoping Sony will do something with it all eventually.

      Delete
    2. It looks like someone finally spilled the beans about that:
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1939659/board/thread/233070736

      Delete