When the current theatrical reboot (a sequel and toothless TV remake had already come and gone) of Carrie was announced, there was a lot of teeth gnashing and cries of “leave the classics alone!,” mostly by me. But as details began to leak out, the prospect became more intriguing. Gay director Kimberly Pierce gave us the masterpiece Boys Don’t Cry, and the fabulous Julianne Moore signed up to play Carrie’s psychotic fanatical mother. Chloe Moretz doesn’t look anything like Stephen King‘s Carrie, but then neither did Sissy Spacek, so I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Carrie was supposed to open in March, but the studio has pushed it back to October, which means they’re either hoping for Halloween dollars … or it’s a sign of a troubled production.
But while we wait to rain judgment down on the new version of our favorite telekinetic teen, let’s take a look at other put-upon girls who were pushed too far and fought back against their tormentors. Whether with psychic powers, witchcraft, or … undetermined, these are all “Girls With The Power” and you’d better treat them right … especially if you’re a stuck-up blond.
Summer Of Fear
Summer Of Fear (aka Stranger In Our House) is one of the greatest TV movies of the 70’s (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), and one of the early jewels in the crown of director Wes Craven. Linda Blair (with her all-time greatest ‘fro) stars as Rachel, whose life is thrown into turmoil when her cousin Julia (Lee Purcell) comes to live with her and her parents after the mysterious deaths of Rachel’s aunt and uncle. It soon becomes apparent that Julia is up to no good, as she usurps Rachel’s boyfriend … her father … and her horse! Rachel is the only one who can see through her cousin’s lies, and begins to suspect that Julia may be … hiding something. Um … possibly. Don’t piss off an Ozark Witch!
This 1981 TV movie featured the inspired casting of two beloved America’s Sweethearts, Melissa Sue Anderson and Mary Beth McDonough, from Little House On The Prairie and The Waltons, as rival high school girls who discover that they both have the ability to demolish a shop class. Actually, the movie was a who’s who of early 80’s TV stars, including Marion Ross, Cathryn Damon, Gordon Jump and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Vanna White as a cheerleader. Melissa is bad girl Vivian, and Mary Beth is the good but bland Robin, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I am Team Viv all the way, especially when Robin had the audacity to spray paint Viv’s Jordache jeans green. She needs to pay!
The Initiation Of Sarah
One of the most beloved TV movies of the 70’s, it is, of course, a ripoff of Carrie, but it’s a great ripoff, and stands on its own. That’s mainly because of the cast, with Kay Lenz a vulnerable, sympathetic victim of the faboo sorority bitch Morgan Fairchild (whose face ends up steak tartare). Add in Shelley Winters at her most weezing (and it sounds as if she’s either ad-libbing every single line, or being fed the script through an earpiece) as the Housemother From Hell, and such TV mainstays as Morgan Brittany and Robert Hays.
Jennifer (Lisa Pelikan) is a poor backwoods girl with a special power. She can control snakes! (in fact, the original title of the film was Jennifer: The Snake Goddess). When she was a kid a local boy was killed during a demonstration of her power, and she had vowed never to use it again. Of course, that might change after she gets a scholarship to a snooty school, and is immediately pounced on by the rich girls. In addition to the fabulous Lisa, we also get 70’s favorite Bert Convy and our gay brother Wesley Eure. You can see the trailer below, which has been made to resemble Carrie as much as possible, and makes almost no mention of Jennifer’s actual power!