The Horror Honeys: What If Carrie Was Kind of a Dick?

What If Carrie Was Kind of a Dick?

A Revenge Honey Classic-ish Review

The Spell (1977)

That's the basic premise of the 1977 TV movie, The Spell. Okay, it's a little more complicated than that, so I'll give you details. Teenage girl Rita (Susan Myers) is considered "fat" by 70s standards and thus, is mercilessly teased by her skinny, gymnast classmates. Things aren't much better at home, where her distant father encourages her to ease up on the breakfast over his morning paper, and her skinny sister (played by a pre-teen Helen Hunt) gets all of daddy's love. The only one in Rita's corner is her mother, played to groomed 70s perfection by Lee Grant, who I just adore the crap out of.

So basically, Rita makes friends with a Mexican maid and learns that she has telekinetic powers. (The maid teaches her spells, that help enhance the powers, I guess? I don't really know what the point was there. Other than an excuse to name the movie The Spell, and not Carrie If You Look Through the Other End of Your Binoculars.) Rita starts acting really strange and creepy, one of the bitchy girls at school breaks her neck in gym class, and ACCIDENTS start happening all over the place. For a TV movie, things get pretty epically icky when one of mommy's friends gets a little too close to Rita's secret. Let's just say, the visual of someone's blood boiling isn't so pretty.


Now, one of the things that made Carrie so great as a story was that Carrie White was about as sympathetic as a character could get. She was raised by an abusive, religious fanatic mother. She was tormented and tortured by her classmates. And when she finally got a glimpse of life as a normal teenager, she had a bucket of awfulness dumped all over her at the prom. If you don't feel for this girl, you don't have a soul. What sets The Spell apart is that Rita is kind of... well... Kind of a jerk.

When the film opens, the skinny bitches are throwing some genuinely horrible names at Rita. It made me think that this movie was going to introduce me to another Carrie White, but one I could actually identify with. There is nothing worse than being a chick with hips and boobs in a place where everyone else looks like a member of the Ukrainian balance beam A-squad. But the movie OPENS with the death of the classmate and after that, we never really see much of Rita's school again. The rest of the film is Rita being pissy with her family and honestly, it gets kind of old after a while.

The 70s were a time when the whole public face of the family dynamic was changing and I think that's the major theme of The Spell: not a teenager's revenge. A father who works too much and prefers one daughter to the other, a mother who is living her own life in addition to her life with her family, and a daughter who gets tired of being crapped on but is clearly not emotionally stable enough to handle it like an adult: these are the real themes of the movie. So no, it's not the perfect revenge film. But it is an interesting snapshot of the era and there are far worse ways to kill an evening.


Revenge Honey Stabby Points: 3 out of 5