September 13, 2015

The Carrier (1988)

We couldn't do a month on "how did that movie get made" movies without talking about The Carrier. But we also couldn't do the subject as much justice as the person who introduced this gem to us, so we asked Chris Grap to write up a love letter to this movie. He didn't let us down...
The Carrier is a precious gift that should be shared with as many people as possible. I mean this with all sincerity: it is the best bad movie I have ever seen. It's a lovingly-crafted beautiful oddity featuring an insane (and quickly escalating) social study that masquerades as a horror movie.

I don't want to spoil anything for you, I don't want to rob you of that same joy of discovery that comes from seeing this damn thing with nothing to go off of other than the box art, but I have to! Why would you bother to scour the internets to track this sumbitch down solely based on the word of some rando in Minnesota? I lack credibility dear reader, but if you see this movie, one of two things will happen: I will have forever earned your trust, or you will out yourself as a bozo who hates fun.

Ready? Here we go. (Spoilers all over the fucking place):

The Carrier is about the people of Sleepy Rock (a small, highly religious and somewhat isolated Midwestern town) and a young outcast named Jake who lives alone in a shack. The righteous citizens of Sleepy Rock are wary of Jake because they blame him for the death of his parents. Oh! And there's a mysterious black beast roaming the countryside. Is that important? I don't know because it's a throw away line in a conversation between townsfolk, but to my young ears it seemed like it could be worth more attention than it's given. (There's also a line about about all the feral cats roaming the town. Whatevs.) But while the black beast isn't trying to impress anyone, it does attack Jake the very night it's mentioned in town. The mildly injured Jake somehow, sorta defeats the black beast because it lumbers away and disintegrates. This is not the weirdest thing in the movie.

You see, Jake was infected by the black beast and has now become...THE CARRIER! Anything he touches becomes infected and if anyone but the carrier touches an object he's infected, they melt. Slowly and horribly. As the yokels start to figure things out, they get smarter. Realizing they can no longer go around touching whatever they please and that they need a way to identify when something has been infected, they start rounding up all the feral cats so they can touch all the objects in town with a cat. If the cat melts? They mark the infected thing with flimsy colored tape. If the cat doesn't melt then that object is home free! Until that thing eventually becomes infected... This is also not the weirdest thing in the movie.

The cats that were recently regarded as a nuisance have now become a commodity. Those who have cats, have power because they can identify more infected things. (I think.) This inevitably creates a divide among the town folks. (I should also mention that by this point every one has wrapped themselves in garbage bags, plastic sheeting, chains, and paranoia. It looks like a town of Road Warrior cosplayers having a shitty family reunion.) Naturally this all culminates in an epic battle between those with cats, and those without. It also results in many, many cries of: Cats?! Or death?! This is still not the weirdest thing in the movie.

But, this is where I'm going to leave you hanging. Believe me, you need to find this and watch this movie right now. I'm sure we'll screen it again someday, but until then your best bet is to find a copy of the sweet DVD that Code Red released. You might have to wrap yourself in trash bags and hunt for it, but it'll be worth it.

The director of photography was Peter Deming (Evil Dead 2, Austin Powers, The Cabin in the Woods). The score was composed by Joseph LoDuca (Army of Darkness, Xena, Brotherhood of the Wolf). Bruce Campbell was a sound fx recordist and provided the scream of the beast. This is sadly the only film directed and written by Nathan J. White. (And Nathan, buddy? If you're reading this let's kickstart a sequel. I'm so damn serious about this. We need to revisit the town of Sleepy Rock. Please?...)

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