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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 *****)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A movie doesn't have to be great to be a classic. "Carrie" is not
great, but it IS a classic, a film from Stephen King's first novel, and
the break-out performance by Sissy Spacek. The newest DVD release has a
very impressive 16:9 anamorphic video transfer for an old film, and a
pretty decent 5.1 pseudo surround sound. It also has several nice
extras, the most interesting being the clips and interviews with most
main cast members. John Travolta was still fresh in TV's "Kotter", and
two years before his hit films. William Katt was TV's "Greatest
American Hero." And Amy Irving is about the cutest actress who never
went anywhere with her career. Jack Fisk, art director, had been
married to Sissy for two years. Sissy was 27 in "Carrie", although she
really did look 16. The girl from little Quitman, Texas still looks
good today at age 53.
"Carrie" is about a high school girl who is "different", and all the others make fun of her. The best of the worst starts when she unexpectedly starts her period during an after-practice shower and all the girls taunt her. ((The locker room scene, in slow motion with flute and piano music, and naked young bodies in and out of the cover of steam is very sensual.)) Trouble for all the others is that Carrie has telekinetic powers that she is just beginning to realize. She is walking home and a kid on a bike taunts her, and she promptly throws him to the ground, without ever touching him. In the library she is reading a book "Secret Science Behind Miracles."
some SPOILERS - Carrie is caught between two extremes and there is no escaping. Her mother is a religious fanatic who thinks Carrie's father was a possession of the devil. At one point she says, " I should have given you to God when you were just a baby." She now thinks Carrie is possessed. At the other extreme are the insensitive students who plot to embarrass her by rigging the King and Queen contest at the prom, having Carrie and Tommy win, only to dump a bucket of pig's blood onto her as she stands on stage.
Carrie's telekinesis takes over, doors are locked, fire hose begins to spray, a fire is started, only Carrie walks out after Amy Irving's character also escapes. On her way home, bloody, a car tries to run her over but she sends it tumbling, and exploding. Back home, all she wants after her bath is a hug from mom, but mom stabs her with a large knife. But telekinesis sends several implements into mom, who dies, and finally Carrie sends her whole house down, burning, on both of them. Irving has dreams that a bloody arm is pulling her down to hell.
Stephen King admits that "Carrie" was not his best work. It was actually inspired by several disconnected experiences, but the catalyst was cleaning a girls locker room as a janitor and encountering a dispenser of feminine products. In total I cannot see this film as a great work, probably not even as a very good one. But it is a very interesting one, especially for the careers that received a kick-start with film.
In 1976 Stephen King and Brian Depalma came together and working from
King's material crafted one of the best movies ever created. The film
tells the tragic tale of Carrie White (played marvelously by Sissy
Spacek) a mousy abused girl who suffers endless torment at the hands of
her classmates and fanatically religious mother (Piper Laurie who's
also incredible). However, one of the girls Sue Snell (Amy Irving)
feels guilty and sets up her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) to
take her to the prom instead of her. Another girl Christine
Hargensen(Nancy Allen) gets her juvenile boyfriend Billy Nolan (John
Travolta in a very funny role) to play a prank on Carrie. Little does
everyone know Carrie's dark secret: She is Telekinetic and once the
prank is pulled, a holocaust of destruction is released like non ever
This Classic from the 70's is flawless in every way; the acting is all top notch the effects are remarkable and the ending is haunting and tragic at the same time. The fact that Carrie even causes the death of the two people who reach out to her proves that not even the truly innocent survive all the time.
If there was something wrong with this film, it would be hard to pick
out. It is amazingly acted, greatly scripted and everything a good film
is supposed to be. It is my favourite film of all-time, and I couldn't
stop talking about it for weeks after I first watched it. And then I
got a reason to watch it again, I did my speech on Sissy Spacek, and I
got the DVD out because Carrie was the main movie in my speech. Sissy
Spacek was amazing, every scene with her in was special, she made
Carrie White an emotionally-charged psycho. And what about Piper
Laurie, she was just the most irreplacable character there will ever
be, and I'm sure Sissy was scared of her just a tiny wee bit. The rest
of the cast, Amy Irving, William Katt and Nancy Allen were amazing
teens. I didn't like John Travolta's performance, it just lacked what
the rest of the cast had going for them. Carrie has a sparkling script
with added funny bits to remember it's a teen movie not a blood-sucking
horror!! The moment Carrie gets soaked in blood, it's just so weirdly
unreal to watch, ha ha. So I'm going to end this with my favourite tag
line... IF YOU'VE GOT A TASTE FOR TERROR, YOU'VE GOT A DATE WITH
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