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Everyone knows that the Stephen King/Brian De Palma masterpiece Carrie was vastly influential—re-imagined as a 2012 theatrical production and re-made as a 2013 film. But who knew that it was essentially re-made two years after its initial release—and the new film even referenced Carrie in its audacious poster art?

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Jennifer (Lisa Pelikan), like Sissy Spacek in “Carrie,” has large blue eyes, a freckled face and flowing red hair. She’s an outcast “hillbilly” at the highfalutin all-girl school that she attends—she received a full government scholarship while the other girls at the school are rich and don’t need one. The long list of girls who dislike Jennifer include pretty but mean Sandra (Amy Johnston), matter-of-fact Dee Dee (Georganne LaPiere), and the fat/eager to please Jane (Louise Hoven).

Jennifer lives with her father Luke (Jeff Corey) in the back of a pet shop that they manage. Luke is a needy dad who lost his wife many years ago and expects his daughter to, even while she’s a full time student, cook, clean and tend to their store. He also has a penchant for citing scripture, falling asleep while listening to Christian radio, and reprimanding his daughter: “women shouldn’t never be seen in public like that!” (With very little differentiation, Luke is the Piper Laurie character in Carrie: only now a man.)

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And there are other men in the cast. Sandra’s father is Senator Tremayne (John Gavin). In his prime Gavin was one of cinema’s biggest romantic male leads: Psycho, Imitation of Life, Back Street. He’s fascinating to behold in this rare downsized cameo. Jennifer’s teacher is Mr. Reed (Bert Convy of the TV’s Tattletales and Password). He’s her only sympathizer: a man who comes to her aid and might lose his job for doing so. And then there’s Alpha Male, track and swim star Dayton Powell (Ray Underwood). He’s Sandra’s easily corruptible boyfriend (the John Travolta character in Carrie).

What no one at Jennifer’s school knows is that she’s in possession of supernatural powers. In a flash, that is if she desires to, she can “call on the serpents” to avenge or protect herself.

And she will. Pushed to the limit by her tormentors—the circulation of nude photos, almost being run over by a car, the hanging of her favorite pet shop kitten, Jennifer snaps, performs incantations, and causes deadly havoc.

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A Main Street drag race, a nude shower scene (to match Carrie’s!) and an explosive final act involving thousands of snakes—as well as a larger than human-size monster snake that bites someone’s head off, make for a satisfying final blowout. Look for the King Kong-themed disco set featured in the same years’ Thank God it’s Friday, and Georganne LaPiere, entertainer Cher’s younger sister, as straight-shooting Dee Dee.

Directed by Brice Mack, with cinematography by Irv Goodnoff and a screenplay by Kay Cousins Johnson from a story by Steve Krantz.

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Josiah Howard is the author of four books including the seminal Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide. His writing credits include articles for The New York Times, Reader’s Digest and The Village Voice. A veteran of more than 100 radio broadcasts he is a regular contributor to Grindhouse Cinema Database and in 2014-15 made regular appearances on TV One’s award-winning documentary series Unsung. Visit his Official Website.
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