The year was 1976. With the exception of Jimmy Carter’s election that November, the year was relatively devoid of significant events. Asking anyone what else happened that year is followed by silence. Even the long-hyped bicentennial celebration is remembered more for its missteps, e.g. the misconceived renovation of Union Station in Washington, D.C., which consisted mainly of a massive hole in the middle of the great hall, that was touted as the National Bicentennial Visitors Center.
There was, however, one exception. Film director Brian De Palma changed the future of horror movies for decades to come with the release of “CARRIE”. Previously, most horror pictures had what could be called “a happy ending.” The source of terror was eliminated and moviegoers left the theater believing life might return to normal in locations ranging from Transylvania (Dracula) to a radiated desert in New Mexico (Them!).
SPOILER ALERT: In the penultimate scene of De Palma’s classic, Carrie (Sissy Spacek) and her mother Margaret (Piper Laurie) perish when Carrie, returning from the ill-fated high school prom, confronts her mother. The resulting encounter ends with both perishing when Carrie unleashes her telekinetic power destroying the house with both mother and daughter inside. The fictional town of Chamberlain, Maine may never be the same, but at least it is free of Carrie’s wrath and Margaret’s irrational religious fervor. That is, until Sue Snell (Amy Irving), the sole survivor of the prom night massacre, is shown placing a bouquet of flowers next to the “For Sale” sign on the vacant lot where Carrie’s home once stood. In what would become the first in a stream of unnatural reanimations in moviedom, a bloody arm emerges from the rubble and grabs Sue. It is only a nightmare, but the effect has served its purpose. From that day forward, a villain’s death is no longer final as was the case with Freddy Krueger (Robert England) in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to the less supernatural Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in “Fatal Attraction.”
You are probably asking, “What does this have to do with Mark Meadows?” As I read the transcript of Meadows’ testimony at last week’s federal court hearing, I realized Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, had she not chosen a legal career, might be equally successful as the queen of courtroom thriller flicks. In her directorial debut, she puts Meadows on the witness stand during the evidentiary hearing by which he hopes to move his upcoming trial as a RICO co-defendant from state to federal court. In the opening scenes, Meadows resides in the equivalent of “Everytown, USA,” a familiar and safe environment created when his legal team asks a serious of softball questions.
This false sense of security soon vanishes with the arrival of the “evil” prosecution portrayed by Willis associate Anna Cross. [NOTE: Was casting someone with the last name Cross to cross-examine Meadows more than a coincidence?] She shows her intended victim no mercy, immediately confronting him, “Did you have any role in coordinating the fake electors plot?” And right on cue, Meadows does what a potential victim in any horror picture would do in a similar situation. He tries to convince his assailant she is barking up the wrong tree. Her thirst for revenge is more appropriately directed at others. “No, I did not,” he confidently replies. He then relaxes, believing he, like Sue Snell, has a chance to be the sole survivor of an impending massacre by jurisprudence.
But Cross is not vanquished. Her arm emerges, not to grab Meadows, but to show him the telltale email which suggests he likely added perjury to his list of alleged criminal behavior. This climatic moment is followed by Meadows’ return to the safe confines of his own legal teams. Until Meadows realizes this was not a dream. And he will forever be plagued by a recurring nightmare which takes place in the Oval Office where Donald Trump yells at him for failing to anticipate the next demand he should fulfill in pursuit of this boss’ illegal and extra-constitutional endeavors.
Based on its success, “The Mark Meadows Project” likely will not be a one-off blockbuster. It is the beginning of a long-running motion picture franchise in which each new entry features one or more of the Georgia co-defendants falling victim to the long arm of the DA’s office as it presents damning evidence each co-conspirator wrongly assumed, like Carrie White, was dead and buried.
Georgia co-defendants would be wise to take a cue from Garry Shandling, who signed-off at the end of the last episode of “The Larry Sanders Show,” the fictional “Tonight Show” doppleganger he created to explore the behind-the-scenes world of late night television by granting permission to his viewers, “You can flip now.” [NOTE: For those unfamiliar with this HBO series (1992-98), before each commercial break in segments from the fictional late night talk show, “the show within the show” a la King Lear, Sanders/Shandling would urge his viewers not to go channel surfing with the catchphrase, “No flipping!”]
For what it’s worth.