30 May 2024

Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie was the recipient of numerous homages. The story of a picked upon girl who gets back at her tormentors was turned into several Movies of the Week.

Chief among them is 1978's The Initiation of Sarah. Kay Lenz starred as the title character, a shy and withdrawn college student whose only sorority acceptance is one with other outcasts.

Their house mother (played by Shelley Winters) picks up on something special in the girl and encourages her to get back at the elitist group on campus who are making her life miserable.

Morgan Fairchild played the part of "the bitch" to supreme perfection. It's the equivalent of the Nancy Allen role in Carrie. Morgan Brittany was Lenz's beautiful and popular sister, caught between loyalty to her sorority sisters and her sibling.

In The Spell, Susan Myers was Rita, this time an overweight girl with telekinesis. It was a good film and was helped by the always reliable Lee Grant, as well as a young Helen Hunt. Look for a magnificently shot scene in which a woman (who is onto the girl's secret) literally burns to death.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) tells the eerie tale of Bubba, a mentally challenged man wrongly accused of killing a young girl. A group of locals, led by Charles Durning, take it upon themselves to carry out their own form of corporal punishment.

In a chilling sequence, Bubba is captured while he is disguised as a scarecrow. His eyes are filled with terror...but the men are so consumed with rage, they execute him on the spot.

The girl lives, the men get off in a court of law...and the "scarecrow" avenges his murder as the men die mysterious deaths. Wonderful performances all around make this one highly recommended. A thoughtful and stylish climax only serves to lift this well constructed TV movie deftly into the ranks of classic status.

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