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Camp Midnight & The Music Box Theater Presents "A Very Carrie Christmas"

By Eric Hehr in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 19, 2011 8:00PM

Brian DePalma's Carrie (1976)
It may seem odd for Camp Midnight Productions to partner with The Music Box Theater to host a celebratory Christmas event based around Brian DePalma’s classic 1976 horror film, Carrie. But the event was supposed to take place in October, around Halloween. That is a more appropriate time: Halloween and horror films -- makes sense, right? But a Carrie-themed Christmas event? In December?

The event - now dubbed “A Very Carrie Christmas” is on Dec. 4 at The Music Box Theater, and Camp Midnight Productions added a special appearance by famed actress, Piper Laurie (who plays Carrie's fanatically religious mother in the film) to the event. Laurie will discuss the film, her extensive career in the entertainment industry, and will autograph copies of her new book, Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir.

This is a special opportunity for cinephile dorks. Laurie has spent her long, eclectic career working with everyone from Douglas Sirk to David Lynch, and sharing the screen with everyone from Rock Hudson to Mel Gibson. Outside of Carrie, Laurie has appeared in classic films such as Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952), The Hustler (1961), and starred in the infamous TV series, Twin Peaks.

“A Very Carrie Christmas” begins at 2 p.m. with a Camp Midnight pre-show hosted by former “Wild Chicago” commentator Dick O’Day and the head artistic director of Hell in a Handbag Productions, David Cerda. The pre-show will also include a “scary Carrie” costume parade -- get out your prom dresses and buckets of pigs blood -- and a sing-a-long at the Music Box organ, and Piper Laurie. Then Carrie will be screened, with “frighteningly funny” interactive audience guide and “hellaciously hilarious” running commentary from O’Day and Cerda.

The variety of activities provided during “A Very Carrie Christmas” is sure to make for an incredibly anomalous event, but is Carrie really the right choice for a camp film event? Does an Oscar nominated film that has become a staple of its genre deserve to be reduced down to the status of a B-movie and exploited for cheap laughs by comedic commentary?

John Travolta's hair circa 1976

Granted, aspects of Carrie have not aged well (mainly Travolta’s hair), and the horror genre is exceedingly fickle to begin with. However, we’re not talking about Killer Clowns From Outer Space or Motel Hell here. We’re talking about one of the few horror films nominated for Academy Awards (Spacek and Laurie received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively). Carrie garnished an immense amount of positive reviews when it was released, grossing more than 18 times its budget ($33.8 million) and being hailed as one of the best films of 1976.

Chicago’s own Roger Ebert described the film as “an absolutely spellbinding horror film” and “an observant human portrait.” In 1978, Stephen Farber of the New West Magazine prophetically claimed that Carrie was “a horror classic, and years from now it will still be written and argued about, and it will still be scaring the daylights out of new generations of moviegoers." Director and self-proclaimed film geek, Quentin Tarantino, placed Carrie at #8 on his “Favorite Films Ever Made” list, and author Stephen King considers Carrie to be the best cinematic adaptations of all his novels. Carrie has also placed incredibly high on many other cinematic lists, including Empires Magazine "The 500 Greatest Movies of all Time" (#86), Entertainment Weekly’s "50 Best High School Movies" (#15), Bravo’s "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments" (#8), and the American Film Institutes "100 Greatest Cinema Thrills" (#46).

Piper Laurie as Margaret White in Carrie (1976)

Perhaps Camp Midnight Productions should’ve picked the atrocious sequel to Carrie, 1999's The Rage: Carrie 2, as the focus of their upcoming spectacle. Unlike it’s predecessor, The Rage: Carrie 2 garnished enough negative reviews to make one think the film was a spoof of the original as opposed to an authentic sequel.

In any case, “A Very Carrie Christmas” is worth attending for the Piper Laurie appearance alone. And for horror fans, the chance to catch the legendary film on the big screen at the legendary Music Box Theater is worth the price of admission, even if you have to listen to Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque commentary throughout.

For more information on tickets and showtimes for "A Very Carrie Christmas," visit