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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
"Carrie" is easily one of the best horror films ever made, a
well-acted, yet difficult to watch display of the gut-wrenching horror
that is high school.
Carrie White (flawless Sissy Spacek) is a meek, introverted teenager who is treated with irrational disdain by everyone around her. Her vile classmates mock and humiliate her at every opportunity. Her teachers either patronize her or barely acknowledge her existence (the principal, in spite of being corrected numerous times, calls her "Cassie"). Even worse, her own mother (Piper Laurie, who all but devours the scenery) is a man-hating, religious fanatic who forces Carrie to pray in a locked closet. Carrie's so used to being put upon, she's unaware of the fact that there are actually people who support her. One is no-nonsense gym teacher Miss Collins (stage veteran Betty Buckley), who defends Carrie against her heartless classmates. After Carrie is humiliated by the popular girls when she experiences her first period in the locker room shower, Miss Collins punishes their leader Chris Hargenston (Nancy Allen) by denying her prom ticket. Chris, a promiscuous, soulless queen bee, blames Carrie for her misfortune, so she convinces her idiot boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) to help her exact a truly despicable revenge against Carrie at the upcoming prom. It is also on that fateful day that Carrie discovers she has telekinesis, which at first frightens her but later empowers her, undoubtedly because it's the only thing in her life she has control over. Meanwhile, another unlikely supporter for Carrie is Sue Snell (Amy Irving) who's a real high school oddity: a mean girl who truly regrets her nasty ways, so she attempts to make it up to Carrie by having her boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) ask Carrie to the prom. Tommy, a dim but decent sort, agrees and Carrie accepts, though not without a bit of hesitation and bewilderment. Mrs. White tries to prevent Carrie from going to the prom by nastily telling her that Tommy will stand her up and that everyone will laugh at her. The newly confident Carrie, however, refuses to be cowed again by her mother, and goes to the prom with Tommy. Carrie is euphoric at the prom and Tommy truly enjoys her company, but, thanks to Chris's cruelty, heaven immediately turns to hell. Carrie's pent-up rage is finally unleashed as a nightmarish inferno in which no one will escape.
"Carrie" overcomes its potentially uninteresting teenage angst story thanks to Brian de Palma's direction and its well chosen cast of actors. Spaceck received an Oscar nomination for her performance; a rarity in horror films, but she truly earned it. Spacek makes Carrie a realistic, sympathetic character, and Carrie's innocence, insecurity, and ever increasing fury feel all too real. Spacek was actually in her late '20s at the time of this movie, but with her downbeat posture, wide, frightened eyes, and her long hair that she seems to use as a burqua, she does a seamless job playing the type of unpopular girl we all should have been nicer to. Spacek also does a convincing job displaying Carrie's temporary new happiness and confidence: her posture is straighter, her hair shinier, and during the early prom scenes, Carrie's new-found radiance really transform her from ugly duckling to swan. It's beautiful and touching to watch, and all the more devastating, knowing how quickly it will end. Laurie seems to have too much fun playing Carrie's abusive, Bible-thumping mother, and she's easily one of cinema's most awful mothers, right up there with Mrs. Vale from "Now, Voyager" and Mrs. Iselin from "The Manchurian Candidate".
Two underrated performances come from Buckley, playing the type of teacher we all wish we had in high school (well, how many teachers nowadays would have the guts to punish the popular kids?), and Allen as the bitchy Chris. Forget Rachel McAdams in "Mean Girls"... Allen creates the ultimate popular girl from Hell. Chris is a foul-mouthed, gum-smacking, Bonne Belle lip gloss-wearing vixen who always seems poised to say something nasty, and even her smile is more like a sneer. She and Billy are such a hateful, dysfunctional pair that their comeuppance is "Carrie"'s most cathartic experience.
While the prom climax is indeed terrifying (and the iconic image of a blood drenched Carrie will stay with you forever), I view "Carrie" as more of a tragedy than a horror. Carrie is a victim of our society's prejudice against shy, quiet people. As teens we take out our petty insecurities on shy people by mocking and torturing them. As adults we overlook and dismiss them in the workplace. Over thirty years since "Carrie"'s release, nothing has changed. That's the real tragedy.
Carrie White (Oscar-nominated Sissy Spacek) is about the shiest,
mousiest girl ever portrayed on film.
I'm a guy, and never have I really felt such sympathies for a nerd-girl, especially one who seemed genuine. Hence, "Carrie" looks and feels less a horror movie and more a teen-drama. Style filmmaker Brian De Palma directs "Carrie," an adaptation of the Stephen King novel (King's first work to be adapted into a movie), and thus one of the scariest movies of the genre.
As Carrie White, Spacek seems a natural. Our feelings for her are genuine, especially since as the film opens, she has her first period while in the girl's locker room and panics at the sight of her own blood. Because her mother (Piper Laurie) has burdened her down with a whole bunch of religious nonsense, Carrie just has no idea about how to react to a natural bodily function.
The incident also brings about something else in Carrie: she realizes that she has psychic powers, which she then uses against her tormentors, including her mother and classmates Chris (Nancy Allen) and Norma (P.J. Soles), and Chris's boyfriend Billy (John Travolta). It all boils down to a blood-drenched, special effects-laden climax at the school prom.
There are others who care for Carrie: a fellow classmate named Sue (Amy Irving), her friend Tommy Ross (golden boy William Katt), and a sympathetic gym teacher (Betty Buckley). But the constant torment of her enemies leaves Carrie no choice but to do the unthinkable on a night where everybody is supposed to be happy.
"Carrie" was made before the slasher madness of "Halloween" (1978), its sequels, and the many knock-offs. So in this sense, "Carrie" seems to be a stand-alone picture. As stated earlier, the bloodbath at the end is so unexpected in a movie that was building up into a touching teen story. Such effects-laden sequences come as a surprise and are indeed frightening to watch.
Spacek is wonderful, generating the emotional depth required for her character. Since she just celebrated her 57th birthday yesterday, why not give "Carrie" another chance in some other media format to mark its 30th anniversary? I've read that Stephen King doesn't particularly care for the movie adaptation of his first hit; I find it hard to believe he's truly upset with the finished product. But "Carrie" is a true classic of the genre, one of the first of the best.
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