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Carrie boomed Sissy Spacek's and John Travolta's career. I understand
Carrie starts off at a gym locker room, where we find out how much the other kids hate Carrie. But, we find out that Carrie has some powers. Like in other Stephen King book-movies, the supernatural aspect is only minor compared to the rest of the story, but it comes into play at the end. Carrie's mom (Piper Laurie) is an over-protective religious zealot who makes The Royal Tenenbaums seem normal. So Carrie tries to cope with her horrible life, but it's getting tougher and tougher.
Spacek is exceptional as Carrie, and I now know why she was nominated for Best Actress. Her emotions are real, not some fake tear drops that make us think she's sad. Either she has great motivation, or she's one of the best actresses of the century (or both!). Laurie was equally good as her mother who locks Carrie up in a closet everytime she thinks that Carrie has sinned. This movie wouldn't be half of what it was if the acting wasn't so great. When Carrie was sad, you were sad. When the other kids ridiculed her, you felt like you wanted to kill the kids. When she smiled, you smiled. Emotions that raw couldn't come from just any movie.
If you know me, I'm a stickler for character developement. Carrie didn't take much time, but from the opening scene you knew about Carrie and her weakness. So are the secondary characters; they're nicely developed even if their role isn't that major. Travolta had a miniscule role, but he was fine in it; it led to Grease and Saturday Night Fever.
The prom scene has got to be one of the most memorable scenes from a horror movie. That red tint is awesome; it's like a premonition. In fact, the movie is full of premonition: the red tint, the freaky looking voodoo doll, "They're all going to laugh at you." I'm assuming that director Brian De Palma meant to put that in, so it just isn't about some supernatural powers, it's also about foreshadowing. Also, I dig that camera movement during the dancing.
The blood and gore wasn't held back, but they just put in what was necessary. De Palma obviously stole from Hitchcock's Psycho, mainly the music cue whenever Carrie is using her telepathy. Also, her school, Bates High, is another Psycho refrence.
Carrie was also very creepy. It wasn't a thrill-a-minute, but at the ending, that was Scary with a capital S. The last ten or twenty minutes were scare-inducing for sure. That last jump scene in the dream...wow! It's still jumping at me. If there was one complaint I had to do about the movie, it's that it took too much time to get to main scene and the prom went on a little too long, but other than that it's a first class horrror/thriller that any horror buff needs to see.
My rating: 8/10
Rated R for nudity, some language, and blood.
"Carrie" is a melding of two great artists, in this case, Stephen King, who
wrote the novel and Brian DePalma, who directed the film. This is a tense,
exciting thriller that is also a sturdy character study. It's hard to make a
film that can accomplish both, but DePalma does it.
King's novel mostly dealt with a telekinetic girl who is cruelly treated by her classmates. DePalma and screenwriter Lawrence Cohen follow the novel fairly closely, with the exception of the ending, which is a great deal more sensationalistic and better, in my opinion. (King himself liked the finale and the film, as stated in his exceptional study of the horror genre "Danse Macabre")
As is the case in most DePalma films, the technical credits are superb. The cinematography (by Mario Tosi)is extremely effective; colors and shadows have never been shot more effectively in a DePalma film since. The film score is by Pino Donaggio, and it marks the first collaboration between Donaggio and DePalma. (Bernard Herrmann died shortly after "Obsession" was completed) Donaggio is among the most underrated and overlooked composers of his time. His scores for "Dressed to Kill", "Blow Out" and "Body Double" are all exceptional and all deserved Oscars. "Carrie" is no less brilliant, as it accomplishes what all great scores are supposed to do: enhance the film without giving anything away. Paul Hirsch's editing is also extremely effective as it was in "Sisters", "Obsession", "Blow Out" and "Raising Cain".
But it is the performances that make "Carrie" stand out. Carrie is played by Sissy Spacek in a performance of such power and strength that she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (the first actress ever to be nominated for a horror film; the second would be Sigourney Weaver for "Aliens")She manages to hit all the right notes. A lesser actress would have veered toward melodrama. Spacek plays the role more realistically and the film is much more effective that way. (Just in case you didn't know, Spacek was a DePalma regular, but off-screen; she was the art director for several of his early pictures). Also, "Carrie" marked the return of Piper Laurie to films after a too-long hiatus (her last credit was "The Hustler") Here, she plays Carrie's mother. Again, a lesser actress would have veered toward melodrama, but Laurie resists the temptation. Her performance is a real knockout and also garned an Oscar nomination (she should have won, but typical Academy genius set in and gave the prize to Beatrice Straight who was in "Network" for a whopping 10 minutes and really didn't do much.)Also, as a side note, this film also is a start for some future DePalma regulars such as John Travolta (his first major studio film) and Nancy Allen (her first major role)
What I really liked about "Carrie" is the absolutely perfect ending. I had commented before that "Sisters" had an absolutely perfect ending. The one thing about Brian DePalma is that he knows how to end a picture. "Dressed to Kill" had a really good one, although some people hated it as well as "Blow Out". "The Fury" has the greatest ending of all the DePalma thrillers.
A small note to finish: In 1999, "Carrie 2" was made by profiteers at MGM. Despite a rich premise, the film was an artistic failure. DePalma had nothing to worry about. The sequel (retread might be a better word) lacks everything that makes DePalma's original so good. Rent or buy the original, on tape (in pan-and-scan or widescreen)and DVD (widescreen)and forget the sequel, even if they give it away.
**** out of 4 stars
I just came back from a special showing of Carrie in the student's cinema
of my university and I must say one thing: THANK YOU to the director, for
this is one of the best, most moving films I've ever seen. I honestly
understand the "it's not scary" mentality!
Now, whether you want to call this horror film or thriller or whatever else is up to you, but I think Carrie's scope cannot reaches beyond just one genre! It is a thriller, but at the same time a very humane movie. You can feel the girl hurting, you hate her mother, you dislike her friends! This movie wasn't made for cheap scares: every scene is brilliantly captured. The scary parts may be rare but when they are there you just can't move from your seat!
The acting is also excellent, Sissy Spacek of course deserving most of the credit, but that is not to say that the other actors aren't great too.
Concerning the script, all the credit goes of course to Stephen King. When you see this movie you can really tell the difference between an artist like him an some cheap Hollywood writer (Scream?). There is so much more to the story than: -Booooo! -Aaaaaa!
So, if you want to see a "scary movie", go see Scream or some other shallow horror film. However if you are looking for a terrifying but also moving film, Carrie is just right for you. And please, if you must put this work of art into one genre, its better if you put it in social drama rather than horror film. Of course it's not scary! It's MUCH more than just that.
It is a classic offbeat horror-melodrama merging harmoniously the
family Gothic extravaganza, supernatural power, and a woman's movie of
a peculiar kind
It remains the cinema's best adaptation of a Stephen
The film initiated De Palma's inclination for surprise diverts between playful imagination and reality, as in the opening, which swifts from a soft-core porn fantasia of girls taking a shower in the locker room to the fact of Carrie's menstruation for the first timethe first sign of "otherness" that will reserve her as an horrifying monster from her small-minded colleagues
All the oppression that Carrie undergoes both at home (with a bible beating maniacal mother played by scary Piper Laurie who develops twisted bizarre ideas) and at school to suppress tension which takes the shape of super telekinetic power, the ability to move objects with the strength of her mind We observe with ambivalence as Carrie's insatiable revenge jumps the line into uncontrolled mass murders ever filmed
Sissy Spacek is amazing as the mocked, helpless girl pushed over the edge Her face and body twist like a living special effect to unleash her pent up rage, as well as her character's alarming progress from painfully shy high-school teenager to Angel of Vengeance
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nowadays, we have literal truck loads of books on how to deal with our
tormented teenage daughters. We all know in this day and age that
teenage girls are wicked bullies and the damage inflicted by their
relentless bullying is often irreparable. But you don't need those
books. Most of us who have watched the film "Carrie" already know the
devastating effect that merciless torment can have upon us. That's why
we watched the film - to see those bullies get what they deserve and to
cheer Carrie on every step of the way.
Carrie is an abused teenager with a void where her self-esteem should be. Her mother is a whacko religious nut who likes to violently throw Carrie around for imagined sins and lock her in the closet for days on end. Her schoolmates are spoiled rotten Clique Queens, who enjoy attacking anyone less popular than they are, for no reason at all other than that it amuses them. Carrie becomes their main target when her period - incredibly late - finally arrives one day in the locker room shower. Carrie, who has never been sexually educated and is under the impression that she is bleeding to death, freaks out. Of course, her classmates find this terribly amusing.
With her the onset of her menstrual cycle, her dormant powers of telekinesis suddenly wake and cannot be controlled anymore than her newly awakened raging hormones can be. Unfortunately, no one is aware of this. As Carrie dares to stand up to her mother and begins to break out of her shell, her cruel and sadistic classmates have a plan to keep her in her place forever. Too bad they don't know how dangerous all that suppressed anger can be. Carrie gets her revenge on them all and the climax of the film is a bloody, fiery apocalypse, as Carrie unleashes her pent up anger along with her powers and literally lets them run their ferocious course.
Carrie is not so much a horror film as it is a psychological one. The human mind is capable of horrors that no movie camera or special effects crew can reproduce, and the abused psyche is a monster that no one wants to see unleashed. It features great performances by Sissy Spacek as the severely damaged Carrie, Piper Laurie as her delusional mother, Amy Irving as the one teenage girl with a streak of compassion and guilt and Nancy Allen as every nerds nightmare - the Popular Girl with no morals, no feelings and no mercy.
For having been written by a man (Stephen Kings first novel) this is a powerful portrait of what it is like to be a teenage girl...and an outcast one at that. The hope, the anger and frustration, all are strong and realistically portrayed. This is a film about the monster within us all.
Perhaps one of the only genuinely good Stephen King adaptations, Carrie'
follows the tragic tale of Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a young girl who is
continually made to suffer at the hands of her bullying classmates and not
helped by her overbearing, religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie). Carrie,
however, is not like regular teenagers as she has been blessed(?) with
telekinetic powers and as the inner rage grows within Carrie so, it seems,
do these potentially lethal abilities.
Brian De Palma directed this amazingly stylish adaptation of Stephen King's first novel which is arguably the best Stephen King adaptation ever to be made. Sissy Spacek's performance is one of the greatest to ever grace a horror film. Somehow managing to perfectly embody the typical school life of the usual high school outcasts, Spacek was able to bring to everyone the appalling life that so many teenagers are forced to tolerate. From the opening scenes where Carrie is utterly humiliated at the hands of her classmates after Carrie's hysterical reaction to her first menstruation, to the painfully wretched ending it becomes nigh on impossible not to sympathise with Spacek's character. Spacek was quite rightly Oscar-nominated for this performance. Spacek's performance was enhanced by fellow Oscar-nominee Piper Laurie in the role of the religious-nut Margaret White. In some ways the naivety shown towards Carrie and what is happening to her is amusing but at the same time it is terrifying to think that any mother could allow her daughter to go though such a generally horrendous life. Piper Laurie was able to make this all too abhorrent character her own with a thoroughly convincing and unsettling performance.
De Palma cleverly directs this movie. Instead of immediately introducing us to Carrie's powers he focuses on the torment (and the tormentors) of Carrie first. This allows the viewer to feel for Carrie and will her towards revenge while ensuring that she is not made into a one-dimensional killer. The movie is very well paced and is presented in a brutally clear fashion. De Palma refrains from using any visual effects with the exception of the infamous `Prom Night' scene which was incredibly well crafted and immersed the viewer in this horrifying display of rage. The final twenty minutes of Carrie are some of the most intense and gripping moments to have been portrayed in horror cinema. These scenes without a doubt helped to build one of the most artistic and and incredible climaxes in all of film.
Carrie' is not for those who just want to see people sliced up or prefer fast-paced horror as it is presented as a heart-breaking drama with a horrifying twist. The magnificent cast (which features John Travolta in an early role) was also graced with fantastic performances from Betty Buckley as the kindly gym teacher and Nancy Allen as Chris, the deplorable ring leader of this atrocious bullying. In my opinion Carrie' is unquestionably worth a look for horror fans. 'Carrie' is very well directed, with a superb screenplay from Larry Cohen and featuring two of the greatest performances in horror. My rating for Carrie' 9/10.
At its heart, Carrie is not a 'horror film', but a film about horror.
The subject matter is physical and emotional abuse; time and time again DePalma returns to the theme of abuse to create a sense of anxiety and dread. And although our hapless heroine is the primary target of abuse (from her mother, her peers, and 'authority') abuse is also meted out liberally to others---violence against women (Travolta/Allen), and public humiliation by authority figures (Buckley/her gym class) also add to the discomfort level (the John Travolta-Nancy Allen relationship is defined solely by abuse---and they in turn are the initiators of Carrie's humiliation).
Except for Betty Buckley's gym teacher, all the characters are cartoonish archetypes---and almost all of these achetypes are brilliantly drawn. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie deservedly have been singled out for praise, but DePalma even managed to get the right performance out of decidedly untalented performers like Nancy Allen, William Katt (who is immeasurably aided by the kind of meticulous lighting that would have made Joan Crawford envious), and P.J. Soles.
Buckley deserves special mention, because she does amazing things with a completely underwritten role. By humanizing what could have been just one more cartoon (the lesbian gym teacher---lesbianism is never mentioned, but Buckley's subtle performance affirms what she has acknowledged in interviews--that she played her character as a lesbian) she provides a central point of reality that keeps the film from spinning completely out of control.
DePalma's intent was clearly not to scare the audience, but to make the audience watch the film from a distance, deliberately plagarizing two of the most notable sequences in film history---Hitchcock's shower sequence and Eisenstein's use of the three-perspective split screen. The shower scene takes place early in the film, cuing the audience into the fact that this is a film ABOUT film. And in the climactic prom sequence, DePalma distances himself, and the audience, from the bloodbath on the screen by reminding us through the 'theft' from Eisenstein that its just a movie at the most critical moment.
There are two significant flaws in the film. For some reason, DePalma interjected a 'fast forward' comedy sequence involving the purchase of tuxedos--the sequence serves no purpose in the film, other than to restate the obvious fact that this is 'just a movie'.
The second flaw is Amy Irving's performance. Its not horrible by any means, but it just doesn't work. Irving has grown as an actress since then (she was the only decent thing about the execrable sequel to Carrie) but the demands made of her in Carrie were beyond her skills at the time it was made. 'Chris' was supposed to be the conscience of the film, but winds up as wishy-washy.
Oh, and DON'T watch this film on commercial television--rent the video. DePalma engages in some sacriligeous imagery that is ALWAYS cut from the film when it is shown on television---imagery that justifies the penultimate sequence of the film itself, and brings closure to it.
Watching the TV remake of Carrie last week just made me miss the original
version all the more. There were so many elements that made the 1976 movie a
classic, but I will try to name just a few...
First of all, the original actresses could never be replaced. Sissy Spacek as Carrie White goes without saying. Sissy gave Carrie a child-like quality that no other actress can touch. You not only root for Spacek's Carrie, but you want to reach in and hug her. Equally irreplacable was Piper Laurie who brings a manic energy to her role as the religious-wacko Mrs. White. I loved how Piper and Sissy's southern accents enhanced their characters. I don't know if it was Stephen King's intention or not, but the way Carrie said "Momma" was just so southern. It was fun seeing Piper and Sissy reunited onscreen as southern sisters in the Grass Harp.
Two supporting actresses in the film who get little credit are Amy Irving and Betty Buckley. Irving brought an intelligent, thoughtful depth to the character of Sue Snell. Buckley as the caring gym teacher stole every scene she was in. One of the most touching moments was Miss Collins taking Carrie in front of the mirror and telling her that she is a pretty girl. Then the terrible realization on her face as she wonders if it is another cruel joke. And who didn't love it when Buckley slapped Nancy Allen's face?
Maybe the single most important element in Carrie is the suspense-building music. I can't express how perfectly the music framed every scene. It should have won an oscar for the soundtrack alone. The two beautiful themes still stick in my mind, "Born To Have It All" which was playing in the shower scene and "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You (Could Love Someone Like Me)" which Carrie and Tommy danced to at the prom. Even the cheesy band playing at the prom fit the mood just right with the lyrics, "The Devil's Got a Hold Of Your Soul".
Carrie is campy nostalgia. It really is a time capsule of that era in history. The polyester, the gym shorts and knee socks, the afros and farrah-hair just take you back to 1976. Where else can you see the stars of Welcome Back Kotter and Eight Is Enough in the same movie?
Youthful energy. That's what this is -- and what it is
Spacek, King and Depalma are all at their most committed exuberance. Sometimes callow, but sometimes so rawly honest one often tingles quite apart from the story. See it on this basis alone. DePalma's camera has a sense of dance -- Scorcese does too, but DePalma's is more emotional. Spacek is so clean in her acting that her ability frightens. How strange it went away, like a poltergism.
The story has a haunting tone, also centered on youth and yearning. Menarche as a horror, the innocent acceptance/fear of the basest religion, the brash director intelligently spoofing Hitchcock. Odd mix that, so an odd and intriguing experience.
High school misfit Carrie (Sissy Spacek) unleashes her telekinetic fury on her tormentors. This was a huge hit in 1976 and scared me silly. It doesn't scare me now (except for the closing sequence), but I still think it's a good solid horror film beautifully handled by Brian De Palma. It moves quickly, has some beautiful imagery (everything is shot soft focus with muted color) and has almost uniformally good performances. The only bad one is by John Travolta way out of his depth playing a hood. Amy Irving (as a student who befriends Carrie), William Katt (with a very 70s afro), Nancy Allen (playing a real bitch), Betty Buckley (so young and full of energy) and P.J. Soles (silly but bearable) are all perfect. But Spacek is superb matched by Piper Laurie who is very scary and marvelous as her deranged, religious mother. Also the film is (by today's standards) very restrained in terms of blood and gore. And the final sequence will make you jump (also notice the cars in the background during that--they're moving backwards!) Only complaints--De Palma REALLY hates some of the high school kids--you feel like like he's working out some personal issues here. And did we really need the slow-mo shower sequence at the beginning? That aside--this is a great film. See it letter boxed.
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