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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!
Carrie's opening scenes are truly disturbing. From the get to, De Palma creates an atmosphere of true dread. It's high school but it is still presented very seriously. the scenes of Carrie and her mother are perhaps the scariest in the film, thanks in part to the direction, but also because of the performances. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie (who I liked seeing in Twin Peaks) are a tour de force here, and at times their scenes linger on true religious obsessions to the point of insanity. The film is never dull, and until the final climax it keeps you waiting. The slow- motion montage before the tragedy in the end is very suspenseful and makes you want to in a way be there to actually help the characters, and it frustrates. I am not sure if I liked the ending or not, but it remains that Carrie is obviously a very influential film and has one of the most unnerving tones I have seen in a horror film.
Well, Brian DePalma hasn't topped this movie yet! I saw it recently
(for the fifth time maybe!) with some friends and I was astonished to
find out that there were things I hadn't noticed! It's such a wonderful
movie. It combines harmonically so many genres: college movie (one of
the first), horror, light comedy. And Mrs. Laurie is breath-taking as
Carrie's mother, while Sissy Spacek is, once again, over the top. And
finally, there's the music: How can one describe the fascinating
prom-song (I never thought someone like you..., sung wonderfully by
Katie Irving); simply magical.
About the art of the film, I would like to comment a thing or two: Notice the symbolization of the colors: White, black, red etc. There is always a secret message in the color of the characters' clothes. Secondly, the structure is amazing. I am amazed by the way DePalma constructed the movie; the moods change in a very convincing way(comedy-->irony--> horror etc.).
To be brief, I am proud to say that "Carrie" is one of my favorite 70s films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sissy Spacek has the creepiest eyes and Piper Laurie had a crazy menace on her face. I gave the film a 10/10 not because it was brilliant film-making, but for one simple fact: It actually scared me. This is odd because I saw the film when I was a kid, but it made no impact. I caught it again on cable the other night and I got a little scared seeing Sissy Spacek's wide open eyes when she destroys the high school and Piper Laurie's creepy smile (reminded me of the old people in Mulholland Drive)as she attacks Carrie. This is a most notable feat: a scary movie that was actually scary. The film accomplished what it set out to do; an amazing achievement that many films today unfortunately are not able to do.
Sissy Spacek in a totally brilliant Oscar nominated performance as a
girl bewitched with telekinetic powers. Unhappy with life with a
domineering brutal mother, whose takes her frustrations out on her and
uses religion to justify her way of life, Spacek etched a memorable
screen portrayal as "Carrie."
Spacek was equally matched by Piper Laurie. The latter, brilliant as Paul Newman's girlfriend 15 years before in "The Hustler," achieved new heights in the role of the fanatic religious woman, afraid of sex and life in general,who would hide behind religion. Laurie was brutal on screen in a performance well worth to remember.
We all know how mean children can be to their fellow classmates. We sure see it here. Only Bette Buckley,as a sympathetic gym teacher, tries to help the unhappy Carrie but apparently to no avail. The invitation extended to Carrie to attend the prom will only bring misery and eventual tragedy to all concerned.
Brian De Palma's memorable film is terrific. A horribly good film.
Twenty-six years after its theatrical release, Brian DePalma's adaptation of
Stephen King's "Carrie" remains a classic in every sense of the word.
Poetically filmed and sharply drawn as a character study, it introduced
moviegoers everywhere to one of the finest actresses of our era (Sissy
Spacek), gave a career-defining role to a fine actress (Piper Laurie) whose
talent and name would probably be forgotten by now were it not for this
film, was the first true exhibition of John Travolta's enormous screen
charisma and jump-started the careers of an impressive line-up of unknown
actors (Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, William Katt, Nancy Allen and Amy
Irving). And it managed to scare the hell out of audiences everywhere
through sheer filmmaking technique and by showing only enough to make the
audience think they see more than they actually see.
Is it even necessary to regurgitate the plot? We all know the basics: high school outcast is cruelly ridiculed by her peers, who don't know she has telekinetic powers--powers she is only beginning to understand. Her high school life is hell, and her homelife even worse. Her mother is a psychotic religious fanatic given to beating her over the head until she prays with her, refuses to let her socialize with anyone, locks her in the closet, goes bananas at just the thought of sex. Piper Laurie is absolutely sensational in this role--deliberately over-the-top in a chilling yet darkly funny performance which should have won an Oscar for supporting actress but lost out to Beatrice Straight's two-scene cameo crying and screaming jag in "Network." (Of course, as wicked as this performance is, it's amazing the staid Academy saw fit to nominate it in the first place.) After Miss Collins, the well-meaning gym teacher (future Broadway diva Betty Buckley), berates the class for torturing poor Carrie, and humiliates evil Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen, gloriously naked in the memorable opening locker room sequence) in the process, she unwittingly sets in motion the tragic turn of events: Chris and boyfriend Billy (Travolta) plot revenge on Carrie, while Sue Snell (Amy Irving), feeling guilty for her part in the incident, talks her boyfriend Tommy (Katt) into taking Carrie to the prom, hoping she'll finally come out of her shell and fit in. We all know what happens next, let's just say it involves a bucket of pig's blood, water, electricity and fire.
What's amazing about this film is just how gory it isn't: I swear before I finally saw this film I was told that you saw heads severed, bodies explode and blood galore; however, except for the pig's blood, the gore here is pretty limited, although the final scene between Carrie and her mother has it's moments. And as I said before: it's all in DePalma's brilliant directing. Legend has it that the director deliberately began the film with graphic nudity in the initial locker room scene because he felt if he was that graphic in the first five minutes it would make the audience uneasy and they would spend the rest of the film not knowing how far he was going to go once the carnage began. Also, the last minute shock scene was added because at the time, there was limited time between screenings and the next audience would stand outside the auditorium door waiting for the next screening and when the previous audience would scream, the next audience would spend the next 105 or so minutes uneasily wondering what the screaming was about. It's all about anticipating what is coming and not necessarily about how gross everything on the screen is, a lesson schlock directors of today would be well-advised to learn.
I could go on-and-on about this film but suffice it to say "Carrie" is well-worthy of the designation "classic." It's funny, it's sad, it's scary and mostly tragic. And just to illustrate how cheap and sleazy it could have been in lesser hands, simply screen the awful sequel "The Rage--Carrie 2" and watch how Sue Snell's character is despicably trashed for a cheap thrill, or try to sit through the botched TV-movie remake which is as bad as this one is great and you'll see the difference is all in Brian DePalma--a director who has since had a spotty career but for one glorious moment put it all together to create a masterpiece. ***** (out of *****)
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