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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Carrie is directed by Brian De Palma and adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen
from the debut novel of the name written by Stephen King. It stars
Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, Amy Irving, William Katt,
Nancy Allen & John Travolta. Pino Donaggio scores the music and Mario
Tosi is the cinematographer.
Carrie White (Spacek) is the outsider at school, dominated at home by her fanatically religious mother (Laurie), Carrie is unmercifully teased by her class mates when she reacts with terror to her first menstrual period. When Miss Collins (Buckley) the teacher decides to punish the girls for their actions, it sets the wheels in motion for Carrie to unearth telekinetic powers that could spell devastation for anyone close to her.
As pretty much everyone on the DVD documentaries says, nobody involved with making Carrie had any idea it would become the much loved classic that it is. Made for $1.8 million, it made almost $34 million domestically alone. Garnering award nominations, something of a rarity for horror movies, it also stands proud as one of the most influential movies in the horror genre. Be it the wave after wave of High School based horrors that would follow, or the now standard use of the unexpected jolt, Carrie has earned its place on any best of horror list. Not bad considering both De Palma and King don't feel it's necessarily a horror film! But that's for discussion elsewhere me thinks.
De Palma astutely grabs us from the off, after we are quickly introduced to Carrie White on the volleyball court, where she subsequently loses the game for her side, we shift to the locker room and Carrie takes a shower. Cut to slow motion as the girls lark and pamper themselves in various forms of undress. Shot in steam based soft focus by Tosi as Donaggio's score swirls with playful emotion. Then BAM! Having lulled us in to a false sense of security De Palma brings the blood, menstrual blood. It's an attention grabber alright and it's a testament to how great Carrie is that the attention is held right to that jolting finale. Blood, as those who have seen it know, is pivotal to Carrie's structure, from the shower room to prom night, and on to a bit of a family tete a tete. Not a horror film my eye Brian & Stephen.
For those who wish to delve into sub-texts, meanings and motives etc, Carrie's a good film for those of that mind. But again, that's for discussion elsewhere. I just love to view Carrie as a sharp story told exceptionally well, a movie that manages to pull my emotions in a number of directions. Anger, love, sympathy, revulsion and even a wave of guilty triumphalism, it's all there as De Palma crafts what is arguably his masterpiece. Spacek represents one of the best casting decisions of the 70s, the ugly beauty thing is down pat and the vulnerability extraordinary. Laurie brings the real monster of the piece, religion gone berserker; so brilliantly essayed. The young cast shine bright, notably Nancy Allen, while Donaggio's score is to die for: resplendent with Herrmannesque string stabs.
Carrie may look dated now, but its ability to shock and trouble the cranium still exists on revisits. A masterful piece of film making, where even the use of split screens avoids charges of gimmickry. If only more King adaptations to the screen could be like this. 9/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Film adaptions of Stephen King books tend to be either really good or really
bad. Thankfully, this movie falls into the former category. In fact, this
could be the best King novel-turned film ever.
At first, this movie seems to be your typical high school film. We're introduced at once to Carrie (Sissy Spacek) and the hellish life that she lives. Everyone at school picks on her and make her life a living hell. As if that wasn't bad enough, she lives with her mother (Piper Laurie) who's a religious fanatic, thinks everything is a sin and regularly locks Carrie in the closet. You can't help but sympathise for her.
Unknown to everyone, however, Carrie has telekinetic powers. At first, her powers are really underplayed in the film. By the time the prom scene approaches though, they become more and more prominent. Carrie uses them against her mother while waiting for her prom date and then she uses them at the prom in a very destructive manner. The whole prom scene is both scary and sad. Sad because Carrie finally has her moment where it looks like she's finally been accepted only to have it all end in humiliation. And it's scary to see her powers come full circle in such a destructive and deadly manner. The scene where she slowly walks out of the gym as it burns is a really chilling moment.
While this is a scary movie that has earned its place as a horror classic, it's also a really sad movie as well. Carrie's life is miserable from the beginning right to the end. Watching Carrie kill all of her tormenters at the prom is every high school misfit's dream come true. Carrie has her revenge, but at what price?
"Carrie" is a classic horror film every horror fan should watch. It's well-directed with the right amount of atmosphere in just the right places and Spacek and Laurie are simply outstanding in their roles. Recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"I'm coming out, I want the world to know." - Diana Ross
In "Sisters", director Brian De Palma has a Siamese twin take on the personality of her homicidal "other half". In "Obsession", he has a daughter takes on an incestuous role (largely edited out by studios), usurping her dead mother and symbolically "marrying" her father. In "Dressed to Kill", he has a transvestite's "feminine half" killing women in an attempt to instigate a sex change operation.
With "Carrie", which revolves around the tumultuous life of a schoolgirl named Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), De Palma continues his kinky gender wars. Every woman in "Carrie" is understood entirely in terms of their own sexual frustrations. Carrie's mother and teacher are middle aged loners. One is a religious fundamentalist, the other a lonely romantic. On Carrie's prom night, both women vie for Carrie. One views the prom as a vile ritual, the other recalls her own prom as a moment of adolescent innocence.
The younger generation of women within the film represent a similar polarity. We have Sue, a well meaning monogamist who wants to help Carrie, and Chrissy, a mean nymphomaniac who wants to destroy Carrie. Both their boyfriends take on a similar duality. Chrissy's boyfriend (John Travolta) is an over-sexed alpha male whilst Sue's boyfriend is a kind-hearted poet. What's interesting is that both men are submissive to their women, as are virtually all male characters in the film.
Significantly, Carrie begins the film as a child, but pushes into womanhood when hen she menstruates in a shower. As Carrie's mother was sexually abused in the past, a fact which leads her to both reject femininity and transpose her fears onto her daughter, Carrie's own rites of passage is made to seem terrifying. Later, Carrie's peers seek to reawaken the woman "within" her, while others seek to destroy "it". At the prom, these two ideals - repressed femininity vs promiscuity - collide with Carrie in the middle. In either case, Carrie has no control over her own sexual identity.
Visually, De Palma's film is special, virtually every sequence idiosyncratically shot. Watch, for example, how he begins each act with grand brush strokes. In the first, he paints Carrie as a loner, his camera constantly "finding her" outside of the crowd. Epitomizing this is a crane shot which begins high above a girl's volleyball court and ends with the camera swooping down and finding Carrie ostracised from the group. The following scene is a dreamy shower sequence. Here various girls are portrayed as naked nymphs, in touch with their free-flowing sexuality, a far cry from the more repressed Carrie, who is once again alone. De Palma's next shot continues this pattern. We're floating through school hallways, watching kids go by, until we find Carrie, all by herself. When Carrie returns to school the next day, the camera will again probe the classroom, before finding her seated alone at the back.
With each act of the film, De Palma's camera adapts to reflect changes in Carrie's psychology. Act one, she's a loner at school. Act two, she's oppressed at home by her mother (and God). Act 3, she caught in a tug of war between various female characters. Act 4, Carrie is part of the group. Act 5, Carrie is betrayed by the group. Act 6, Carrie transcends and destroys the group with her newfound powers.
Each act is shot with an emphasis on different colours and with its own camera language. The crane shots in the first half mirror the crane shots in the prom sequence, only now Carrie is engulfed in crowds of well wishers. When pigs' blood falls upon Carrie, a mean prank which echoes earlier, humiliating menstruation sequences, Carrie is again quickly detached from the group. The film is also book-ended by two symbolic shower scenes. In the first Carrie attains womanhood (and is mocked for it), in the second she revokes it in favour for self-repression. Here she essentially becomes her repressed mother, which De Palma highlights by having Carrie put on her mother's gown.
But when her mother ALSO turns against her, Carrie is forced to break free. She rejects all these female characters (all the school girls are female archetypes) and blazes her own trail. Say hello to next generation femininity: empowered and answering to no one.
Carrie's mother is also a fairly interesting character. As Carrie prepares for the prom, her mother prays to herself, sexually rocking back and forth with a rosary. Because the absence of sex in her life is replaced by an exaggerated obsession with spirituality, her repressed sexual energy is released through this hallowed symbol. The rest of the film is similarly awash with sexuality and overt phallic symbols. Close ups of red lips, phallic shower heads, carrots, castration, thin gowns and gym shorts etc.
What's also interesting is De Palma's use of the famous music shriek from Psycho. Critics accuse De Palma of stealing from Hitch, but the sound effect also makes an interesting statement. Hitchcock's film dealt with an oppressive mother and focused on her damaging effect on her grown son. "Carrie" is a film devoid of men or sons - though a wholly patriarchal religion weights heavily on Carrie - and instead focuses on oppositions within a kind of female collective.
The film's final scene (a dream sequence), shows the only self sacrificing (she gave up her man to help another woman), conscientious young woman in the picture (Sue), haunted by the actions of both herself and womankind as a whole. Of all the dream sequence endings in De Palma's films - and there are many - this is perhaps the most optimistic.
8.5/10 - An early De Palma classic.
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a misunderstood young high schooler with
a freakishly obsessive Catholic mother (an amazing performance by Piper
Laurie) who borders on Neo-Nazi. She is horribly bullied at her high
school, especially by the sadistic Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen), and
basically ignored by every person who isn't putting her down. So when
token nice girl Sue Snell (Amy Irving) decides she wants to build
Carrie's confidence by giving up her place at the prom and telling her
kind hearted jock boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) to invite Carrie,
Carrie's mentor Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) smells trouble. Sue
promises all is well and Tommy ad Carrie run along to the prom. But
when Chris and her dimwitted boyfriend Billy (John Travolta's second
role) devise a horrible and humiliating prank, they don't take into
account what has manifested inside of Carrie after all those years of
torment, and how it will effect them in the films horrifying and very
Brian De Palma's famous horror film, adapted from Stephen King's chilling novel, is often noted as the ultimate in teenage revenge films. De Palma used his distinctive style to make a chilling and original horror film that really is the best example of 1970's horror, the style, music, clothes, acting, dialogue and pretty much everything in the film is like a time-warp. The editing very original and you can tell the makers of the film enjoyed creating it.
The acting is very fine, some of the best in any horror film out there. Sissy Spacek is great as the sympathetic freak, but at times you wanna slap her, she's so incredibly pathetic. Like when she's screaming about her period, running around nude. I can understand that she didn't realise what was happening, but running around like a lunatic, and bleeding on people through your vagina isn't gonna inspire sympathy from them. But since I read the book, I understand that was the intention. Piper Lurie was absolutely fantastic as the looney mother, and all the other performances were pretty passable. I have to mention PJ Soles. Her character was so awesome, I'd even go as far a to say that she was one of the (many) highlights of the film. Her character added a quirky charm the film that couldn't be matched by anybody else.
Some of the themes explored was Carrie's journey into adulthood, shown through the way she learnt to control her powers and discovering different parts of her body and different things she can do, most obviously her first period and her telekinesis.
Overall, CARRIE is an outstanding horror/drama. Any horror fan, or general film fan should check it out. 9/10
When we think of horror, we think of "slasher". We think of Ghostface
running around stabbing people, and we "Whats New", or of Leatherface,
swinging his Chainsaw into the sunset, and we think "Thats Campy" or of
Jason haunting the camp he died at, and we think "Well, thats nothing
new!". But, then we see Carrie, and we think "Oh...my...god...!"
Carrie, directed by the wonderful, talented Brain DePalmer, was actually a book, by, Stephen King. With these two minds at work, how could we not get something totally incredible? Carrie, isn't just another horror movie. It is a old idea, finally brought to the screen for millions to watch. The reason it is so good is because it is done so perfect, and it is done so delicately, and mad to tenderly...that the finishing product throws a movie at you that you didn't expect.
Carrie, is our typical high-school misfit. She is mad fun of bye the lots of peers (the popular kids?) and the ones that don't make fun of her, probably are the ones spreading the nasty rumors. To make matters worse, the place were everyone should feel safe, her home, is just another living nightmare, making school a warm-up for her. She lives with a religious fanatic mother, who has her fare share of problems as well. All along, Chris Hargenson, accompanied with her boyfriend Billy Nolen, have a deadly surprise waiting for Carrie, and the most important night of her life...that will change everything, forever! But what everyone doesn't know, is that she has powers to move things!
Now, after reading that dry, one dimensional summary, you might not think it is that good, but you must watch the movie, the you will know.
What makes this movie great is it isn't just a horror movie, but a drama...the interactions between everyone, the good that people do, that only ends up causing more chaos. How truly evil people can really be, and...making the unbelievable, believable. Carrie has so many levels and hidden things, you might want to watch three times to really see it for what it is worth, not just a horror, but almost the study of humans...of course, it is very scary, indeed. You might also want to bring a pillow...just in case.
The movie fast-paced, but wonderful telling of Carries life, just sets the tone. Starring Sisspy Spacek, who does a job nobody else could do with the role of Carrie, really will make you think. It also stars Piper Laurie, queen of the stage, playing Carries crazy mother. Her performance is done with so much power, it will make you shiver. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast does a wonderful job, and keeps you on your feet with Betty Buckly, Nancy Allen, who does a wonderful job portraying your classic, high-school bully, Amy Irving, as the kind-hearted, but misguided, Sue Snell, William Katt, as Tommy, Sues kind-hearted boyfriend, Jon Travolter, as Billy, and PJ Soles, who always shines no matter what role she is playing.
Watch Carrie today!
Carrie (1976) is one of the classic horror films of our time, written
by Stephen King and brought to film by Brian De Palma.
The story is about a plain young girl called Carrie who's old fashioned and cant fit in no matter how hard she tries, she has no friends and constantly gets bullied and harassed by all the other girls at her school.
But what nobody knows is that Carrie is a very special girl with powers that can cause devastating force!!! When Carrie gets unexpectedly invited to the prom by the school hunk, she thinks her life is turning around. But at the prom, there is a nasty surprise waiting for Carrie, a nasty cruel prank that has been set up to hurt and devastate Carrie. But all the laughter aimed at Carrie soon turns to screams as she unleashes her powers in retribution!!! Carrie is a great horror movie, with a great script and Sissy Spacek was perfect for the role of Carrie, this was her finest hour on the silver screen, no doubt about it. William Katt and Nancy Allen are also strong in the supporting roles as the school hunk and most popular girl (bitch).
Carrie also scores highly for it's excellent ending, one of the best in horror movie history!! Surely if you're a horror film fan you've seen Carrie? if you haven't then WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN for the past 30 years??????? 10/10.
I remember reading the book in 6th grade and feeling so very close to Carrie. I was the outcast for all of my schools, no matter where we moved the monsters would find me. I wished so hard for powers of my own, but I never got them. This is a wonderfully done film, and a true landmark of its kind. While the fashions and music have dated considerably, it's still a great study of how our culture eats its young alive, and even encourages victimization of others, through religious intolerance, social class, perceived intelligence as a threat, and on and on. The true ugliness of American culture is all here, and we hope you like what you see. The sad fact is, most of us nerds never get our day, we just quietly die in bedrooms and hang from swingsets. We are the ones who get punished for "acting out" when simply trying to defend ourselves from butt holes. Those same jerks never get anything more than a slap on the wrist, while we get suspended. Is it any wonder why so many of us die young?! Some of us choose to take a few of our tormentors with us, but let's be honest, the Columbine Kids just couldn't AIM. That's the real tragedy, not a bunch of privileged snots. Carrie avenged us all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Scarface" director Brian De Palma had made about ten feature-length
films and several shorts when he made his first classic horror chiller
"Carrie" with Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta, William Katt,
Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, and P.J. Soles. If you look closely, you'll
spot "Miami Vice" regular Michael Talbot, who played Detective Stan
Switek, cast as Travolta's accomplice. This was author Stephen King's
first novel that Hollywood adapted, and he approved of De Palma and
"Ghost Story" scenarist Lawrence D. Cohen's adaptation. Performances
are uniformly top-notch, with Spacek garnering an Oscar nomination for
Best Actress while Laurie received a nomination for Best Supporting
Actress. These two make a convincing daughter and mother combination.
Spacek is a revelation when she goes full-tilt telekinetic in the final
quarter hour, devastating friends and foe alike. She walked off with
the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress. Amy Irving
and Betty Buckley are sympathetic as Carrie's friend and mentor. Nancy
Allen and John Travolta play a villainous who orchestrated an evening
of mayhem with pig's blood galore. "Carrie" is all about the terrible
effects of bullying.
Our poor, disadvantaged heroine grows up with a tyrannical mother whose husband abandoned her and turns into a radical Christian who sees sin in her innocent daughter. Furthermore, Carrie is an outsider at Bates High School, and her only friend is her gym teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley of "Wyatt Earp"), who struggles to help. Things get off to quick start after gym class one day when Carrie has her first period in the locker room shower. Virtually everybody ridicules Carrie's ignorance and they sling a storm of tampons and feminine napkins at her. Honestly, Carrie has no idea what is happening because her prudish, repressed mother has told her anything about growing up and the changes that occur with puberty. Miss Collins reprimands the girls and threatens to revoke their prom privileges if they don't spend time after classes with her performing calisthenics. Sue Snell (Amy Irving) regrets her behavior and arranges a prom date between her handsome football hero boyfriend, Tommy Ross (William Katt of "Butch & Sundance: The Early Years"), who reluctantly goes along with her best intentions scheme. Meanwhile, Sue's class mate Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen of "RoboCop") smolders with rage from the treatment that Miss Collins accords her. Only in the 1970s could a high school teacher assault a student by slapping her face in front of her peers and getting away with no repressions. Secretly, Chris plots revenge with her class mate Norma (P.J. Soles of "Halloween") and boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta of "The Devil's Rain") and Billy's buddy Freddy (Michael Talbot) to fix the prom vote so Carrie and Tommy will win. At the moment that Carrie receives her flower, Chris plans to tip a bucket of swine blood so that Carrie is drenched from head to toe in the gore.
What nobody knocks is that with the onset of her period, Carrie has developed telekinetic powers. We see some foreshadowing of this awesome power early in the shower scene and later in the principal's office when Mr. Morton (Stefan Gierasch of "High Plains Drifter") mispronounces Carrie's name as Cassie and the cigarette ashtray fragments. Later, at home with her warped mother, Carrie shatters a mirror with an etching of Jesus in the background. Tommy has to harass Carrie before she accepts his invitation to go to the prom with him. Predictably, Carrie's mother is dead set against her daughter donning a dress that will prominently display her 'dirty pillows' and plans some retribution of her own. Meanwhile, Miss Collins suspects initially that Sue and Tommy are up no good with Sue's decision to skip prom and her insistence that Tommy take Carrie. The night before all Hell breaks loose, Chris, Billy, and Freddy place the bucket of pig's blood directly over the stage. Freddy and Norma decide to fix the prom couple vote without anybody knowing any better.
Naturally, things go smoothly for the evil villains, but they are in no way prepared for the electrifying outcome. After she is covered in the hog's blood, Carrie unleashes all her telekinetic powers and all but burns down the auditorium where the prom occurred. She walks out of these fireworks. When Chris and Billy try to run her down with his car, she turns her powers on them, their car rolls several times, ignites in a fireball explosion and incinerates them. Talk about a spectacular way to die! At home, Carrie washes off all the swine blood and seeks her mother's loving arms for comfortable only to scream when mom buries a knife in her back. Carrie has another telekinetic bout and skewers her mom with seven kitchen utensils. Suddenly, Carrie's small white house collapses around him, and the sole survivor of this nightmare is Sue. Sue goes to the flat, level site of Carrie's house to put flowers on the for sale sign and an arm from Hell soars up from the rocks to seize her, and she awakens to find her own mother consoling her after experiencing a nightmare. The ending will startle you because this is the last thing that you expect. Four years later, Sean S. Cunningham appropriated the shocker of a finale in his gruesome but seminal slasher "Friday the 13th" with a small boy exploding from the calm surface of a lake to stab at a girl after the heroine had taken refuge in a boat to escape the villainess at Camp Crystal Lake. Director Brian De Palma never wears out his welcome with this 98-minute melodrama about a young girl and her supernatural powers and went on to exploit it in his next film "The Fury." "The Fury," however, was not the memorable experience that "Carrie."
The opening credits scene in Brian De Palma's Carrie shows us the
inside of a high school girl's locker room, De Palma immediately using
his angelic tone as he slo-mos through shots of naked girls frolicking
around with each other. Watching this scene I became very worried,
fearing that De Palma was going to turn in another one of his D-grade
faux-porno disasters and that this was going to be an unfortunate
experience for me. We eventually get to the titular girl, played by
Sissy Spacek, who sensually soaps herself up in the shower before
having her first period, which she responds to by screaming for help,
clawing at her classmates and then being bombarded by them throwing
pads and tampons at her. For me, it all came off as hilarious in the
worst of ways, and I was most certainly worried about the outcome of
About half an hour later all of my fears were gone, as Carrie quickly made a turn from this bizarre camp into something much more sinister and wickedly entertaining. De Palma has certainly delved into the camp before to mixed results, but here he transcends it, creating a high-drama high school horror that is exhilarating, hilarious at times and at others downright chilling. None of this could be achieved without Spacek's performance at it's center, a stunningly immersed work that dives right into the insecurities and pain of this character. Anyone who has been bullied in school can find something to relate with in her and I found myself going right on the same emotional journey with her, all thanks to Spacek's wonderfully empathetic work. It's an impressive evolution she goes down, from the mousy abused to the terrifyingly powerful, and Spacek is convincing for every moment.
Special note should also be given to Piper Laurie who, as Carrie's psychotically religious mother, brings an intimidating terror into every moment. There are some scenes that sent chills through my bones but none did it more than the image of Laurie chasing us through the house with a knife in her hand and a haunting grin across her face. Boosted by these great performances, De Palma is able to bring his high school hell motif full circle in wonderfully entertaining ways. That angelic tone that he establishes right off the bat is present for the whole thing and just becomes more and more appropriate as the film gets deeper into it's religious themes.
Even my complaints with the shower sequence ended up being thrown out the window when things came around to the bathing scene in the final act. The contrast between these two scenes was so well-done, perfectly capturing the evolution of this character. When we first see Carrie in that shower she is so lost and insecure, and the small appearance of blood sends her into a frenzy. Then, when she gets into her tub at the end she is literally bathing in blood, but she has no fear or nerves. She is calm, the blood serving almost as a catharsis, a rebirth for her. It's a serene quality, making the next moments all the more frightening. I do think that there are some sequences that De Palma drags out a little too much, trying to utilize a building suspense when his talent for thrills really lies in a more in-your-face approach. It's a small complaint though and only occurred once or twice in an otherwise high energy horror classic.
Brian De Palma's 'Carrie' is a Haunting & Unsettling supernatural
horror flick, that will you scared, indeed. Right from the direction,
the screenplay & the terrific performances, in particular, make
'Carrie' an unmissable, spell-binding horror flick!
'Carrie' Synopsis: A mousy and abused girl with telekinetic powers gets pushed too far on one special night.
'Carrie' is unsettling, haunting & depressing. It's certainly not meant for the faint-hearted. But, as far as horror buffs are concerned, 'Carrie' is among the best films to watch. The entire journey of Carrie White, is eerie & very unsettling. Her relationship with her Mother, is the high-point of the enterprise. It not only is scary, but also a very sharp take on human-madness. It's superbly handled!
Brian De Palma delivers one of his finest films in 'Carrie'. He very successfully executes the journey of this girl, with the atmosphere & fear, it needed. His direction is absolutely legendary in here. Lawrence D. Cohen's Screenplay is masterfully engaging. Cinematography is perfect. Editing & Background Score, are top-class.
Performance-Wise: Sissy Spacek as Carrie, is terrific. She embodies the person she plays, and it's one of her finest performances, hands down. As her mother, Piper Laurie is electrifying & terrorizing. Amy Irving is excellent. William Katt does well. Betty Buckley is quite good. John Travolta is first-rate. Nancy Allen, P. J. Soles & Priscilla Pointer are decent.
On the whole, 'Carrie' is a horror knockout! A Must See!
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