Sunday, November 28, 2010
The Initiation of Sarah (1978)
You know, when I think "cutting edge horror", I don't really think "kitschy Lifetime-style '70s television movie." But Final Girl called the tune and I can dance with the best of 'em.
I tend to be irony-adverse and my first impression of The Initiation of Sarah was largely negative. The music is disco, the camera work is zoomy, and everyone's hair is so feathered. I cooked up my Trader Joe's-brand pasta and settled in.
Turned out the movie wasn't half bad.
Okay, it ain't scary. Things are a little too bright and cheerful to really get under the skin, but it's a fine little story. While many of the characters in the movie are bitchy sorority stereotypes, I found that I genuinely cared about the lead characters.
The story revolves around Sarah and Patty Goodwin, two incoming freshman trying to get into the prestigious Alpha Nu Gamma, which their legacy mother has been pushing them to join since childhood. The charming Patty is immediately accepted, but the withdrawn Sarah is cruelly rejected and sent to Pi Epsilon Delta, the nerd sorority. The basically decent Patty starts becoming subsumed by her bitchy sorority sisters and an increasingly isolated and angry Sarah comes under that thrall of a creepy sorority mom with a daaaaaaaaaaaaa.....
The movie hits the exact same story beats as Carrie as the troubled outsider slowly comes into her own power, but unlike poor doomed Carrie White, Sarah winds up leading the surly outsiders of Pi Epsilon Delta and teaching them how to stand up to the society bitches of Alpha Nu Gamma. She also forms relationships with other people, particularly the squirrelly young violinist with the obvious crush on Sarah (don't try to deny it) and the sleazy older teacher's assistant.
Overall, I liked the movie. It ain't scary, but it's well-written and acted, particularly with the legendary turn by Shelly Winters as the diabolical Ms. Hunter, who interjects a certain satanic theatricality to the proceedings. It's worth seeing The Initiation of Sarah for her alone.
Also, Morgan Fairchild looks hot soaking wet.
Here's my question: where are the telekinetic payback movies for dudes? These angry teenage psychic stories tend toward stories of repressed feminist rage but high school screws everyone up. I would love to see a reimagining of Elephant with rage-fuelled telekinesis.
This post is part of the Final Girl Film Club. For those of you who dug this post, welcome to my humble little blog. I'm a big horror fan and I like to apply my highly-honed bullshitting skills to the stuff I enjoy. I cover movies, books, games, and music. Welcome aboard!