Posts Tagged ‘Brian De Palma’

stephen_King_jpg_h380_jpg_568Since the idea of the auteur theory gives a, sort of , creative ownership to the director of a film, we often talk about films as creations of the director, and in the case of horror films, they usually are. However, when the film is an adaptation of a book, especially a novel by the illustrious Stephen King, the director becomes more of an interpreter than a creator. So when reviewing Brian De Palma’s Carrie or Kimberly Peirce‘s 2013 remake how much of the movie belongs to the director and how much is really the vision of the original novelist?

Carol Clover talks more of Mr. King’s creation of the girl who is hero, victim, and monster, and the themes that his ideas articulate. Jason Zinoman tells De Palma’s story and controversial decisions he made during filming. By comparing the two adaptations, it becomes obvious that while some things change (director’s call) some things remain the same (original story).

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C2 technologyCarrie was King’s first published novel, and it went stellar so fast that it made him a household name even before De Palma’s masterpiece became a hit. Although I really liked De Palma’s adaptation at the time, and it still holds a great deal of merit, I much prefer Peirce’s rendition of the story. It is clear that technology plays a significant role in the new film both inside and out. The girls use a cell phone to capture the humiliating episode in the shower, but the special effects used in the prom scene disaster sold the scene and really emphasis the power of what Clover calls the “assaultive gaze” (184).

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JB floatI wasn’t sure what to expect from Jennifer’s Body. I had never heard of it before seeing it on the syllabus, but after watching it I was not surprised to learn that the writer and director are both women, Diablo Cody and Karyn Kusama respectively. This movie is a delightful, kick-ass, girl power, horror flick. I loved it!

Unlike Clover’s definition of the occult possession film where the woman’s story is a cover for the man’s crisis (65), this one is all about the girls. Even though the title puts Jennifer up front, it is actually her friend, Needy’s, story. It is the story of empowerment.

JB EddyJennifer and Needy have been BFFs since grade school, “sandbox love never dies,” and there is definitely a girl crush going on, but although Needy does not see it, beautiful, perfect, popular Jennifer keeps Needy around because it makes her feel better by comparison.

JB after the fireWhen her best friend inadvertently becomes possessed with demonic power and begins eating their schoolmates after an inept attempt to sacrifice Jennifer’s body to the devil by a desperate Indy rock band, Nerdy Needy hits the library to find answers. Jennifer is very possessive of her friend even before her transformation and afterwards she specifically targets boys that might come between them. Needy must stand up to her domineering friend in order to save the town, although she is too late to save her boyfriend.

JB mouthThere are several nods towards Carrie in this film, including the bar full of people that gets burned down, and hints of a blood bath at the school formal dance. In talking about Carrie, Zinoman refers to Lovecraft’s idea that the scariest thing is the unknown and points out that to a young man the sexuality of a teenage girl is unsettling (161). When combining Jennifer’s blatant sexuality with her big mouth full of sharp teeth and demonic eyes, she makes a terrifying monster for teenage boys.

JB in asylmNeedy kills the demonic Jennifer and is locked away in a mental institution, proving Brian De Palma’s idea, “Even when you succeed, you fail–and get punished” (Zinoman 167). But it doesn’t end there, Needy, empowered by her heroic actions (and a little demon bite) escapes and, in a great crime scene photo driven ending credits, enacts revenge on the rock band that caused the whole thing.

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