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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.
*** 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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a classic film. So I had seen it before today. But I was a kid, and I seem to remember the shock-scary parts as the catalysts to my nightmares, and not much about the rest.
Today, I saw it again, armed with a huge backlog of movies. I have seen enough to discriminate the bad from the good, the mediocre from the excellent. And Carrie is certainly excellent.
OK, so the premise is at first glance a little weird and far-fetched, but hey, that's Stephen King. What Stephen King also does is to somehow get these far-fetched situations blended in with believable reality. He creates a sort of grey zone between horror and reality. I suppose that's what makes his books frightening enough to entertain millions.
Anyway, this is not a litterary review. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a girl in her senior year of high school, raised by a fanatically christian woman (excellently played by a psycotically frizzy-haired Piper Laurie). She is teased and made fun of because of her naivety and oddness.
So, a stereotypical bitch girl in Carrie's class, looking hideously 70s right down to the 'who wears' short shorts, plots a nasty, nasty surprise for Carrie. Without giving too much away, this surprise comes right at a time when Carrie is truly happy, for the first time in her life.
It is in this classic scene, before and after the prank, that you see that Sissy Spacek is perfect as Carrie. She is introduced in the film as a shy, odd-looking, bland girl. Before the prank, she beams and smiles and she is beautiful. The change is truly remarkable. After the prank, well, she is pretty scary. All these attributes are contained perfectly within Spaceks appearance and acting. It's a shame we don't see her in more movies.
The storytelling, as I have said in my one-line summary, is excellent. The foreshadowing of the prank is subtely and deftly introduced, so that the viewer knows in advance what's going to happen. Everyone, it seems, knows. Everyone but Carrie. We feel sorry for her and are on her side afterwards as well. This is something of a feat to pull off in Hollywood's 'white-teeth-big-jaw-squeaky-clean-super-hero' ideal.
Carrie's internal development (excuse the pun) is paced just as well. Her growing rebellions against her mother, her realization that there is more to life than bible bashing...all the way through she blooms. The symbolism is perhaps a bit overstated in places (Who ever saw a Jesus figure that looked quite like that?) but is none the less quite effective, and drenches through the film appropriately.
Brian DePalma is excellent at making movies that appeal on many levels. As a kid, I liked the scary parts. My mother, whom I watched it with, enjoyed it for the human interaction and the bitchiness of the girls and their 'reward'. I, as I have pointed out, enjoyed the pacing and the whole imagery of the film. Something for everyone.
Oh, wait. There is one thing. The sight of Tommy Ross (William Katt) in his tuxedo is just awful. He is supposed to look sexy - the big catch at the prom - but his huge curly hair and the large lapels on his turqouise suit under his enourmous bow tie serve as a hideous reminder that the seventies were The Decade That Taste Forgot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Carrie(1976) opens with a moment that would set the tone for the rest of
story. Moment in the shower represents an open awareness of the main
character's sexuality and her confusion. De Palma builds and builds the
moment with an effectiveness that never quiets down. Sissy Spacek conveys
emotions of confusion and hysteria powerfully depicted by her facial
expressions. A moment when you can feel pity for Carrie White because of
the mean treatment she receives from classmates.
Before Carrie(1976), Brian De Palma was known for his forays into comedies with exception of Sisters(1973), and Obsession(1976). After Carrie(1976), De Palma started to become famous for his horror/thriller features, which displayed many homages to his fave direrctor, Alfred Hitchcock as well as Dario Argento, and Mario Bava. He may not be original when it comes to some of his storylines, but at his best makes things entertaining and interesting. The Prom massacre scene is directed with some finesse, although it does feel at times that he goes overboard with the split-screen effects. The genius of Carrie(1976) is to depict the emotional meltdown of a young woman who is tormented from all sides and fronts.
An intriquing look into the behavior and mind set of the teenager and the difficulties that comes with being one. The performances in the film are quite convincing in showing the cruel and nasty nature that teens who are outsiders go through every day of their life. Carrie White is portrayed in a sympathetic light whose hidden feelings of anger can be understandable. Chris Hargensen(played by Nancy Allen) is a character you love to hate because of her mean attitude towards Carrie White. Probably the meanest and most unpleasent character Nancy Allen has played in film.
One of the best film adaptations from a Stephen King book besides The Dead Zone(1983), and Misery(1990). Definitely introduced the world to the writings of King, and ended up making a household name out of him as a writer of horror literature. The film plays a nice homage from a moment in Deliverance(1972) during the final moments of Carrie(1976). The Prom massacre is one of the scariest moments in horror films that would be reworked into the final scene in Ms. 45(1981). A classic 1970s horror pic that hasn't lost its touch in creating something so frightening, and very much heart chilling.
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