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Carrie-**1/2- Worthwhile- Directed by: Brian De Palma. Written by:
Lawrence D. Cohen, Stephen King (novel). Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper
Laurie, Betty Buckley, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, William Katt, John
Travolta, P.J Soles, Priscilla Pointer.
Stephen King's creative novel is turned into a high-powered De Palma thriller in this story of a high school outcast (Spacek) who learns she has telekinetic powers and finally snaps after being pushed too far by her cruel classmates and her Christian extremist mother.
Carrie is a horror film by all means and succeeds pretty well as a horror film and even goes a step further by providing social insight into an alienated girl's true feelings toward society under the craziness of her mother (Laurie in a great performance). It even has Hitchcock elements in it that add to the intelligence to the experience. Yet De Palma is not the most fluid storyteller and his dramatic shift between sentimental, anti-bullying tale to bloody horror film does not gel the way it should.
Also, De Palma uses a split-screen during the film's violent sequence. It's as if the carnage on the first screen is not enough for us and he wants to see more blood. He almost insults his filmmaking by saying he is not putting enough on the screen in one image but needs two to give the message of the sequence. His Hitchcock elements do not always work, simply because he does not have the same skill the master of suspense had.
There is no doubt that Spacek's character represents a minority of kids out there and De Palma gives Carrie a voice amongst the growing suspense that makes a few noteworthy social points but this is a horror film that acts as a parody of Hitchcock and a new brand of feminine horror which many films would capitalize on later. King loved the adaptation and I wish I could have liked it as much as him.
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.
Carrie is from a novel by Stephen King, and directed by Brian De Palma,
and it can more than likely be found in any horror section of the video
store. But to me the film may lend itself more to being a kind of
weird, darkly satiric take on High school life that only really gets
into the outright horror in the last twenty minutes. For the most part
Carrie could just as well be a fable about the ugly duckling or some
other kind of outcast. Nothing in the film or story is necessarily
subtle, but it's hard for me to carp- all of the one to two dimensional
characters are brilliantly played, and through such fantastical
material there is a truth reached that might not be struck with a
different cast or director. It's a unique blend of theatricality,
style, and some very realistic, harsh notes about societal repression.
That it's fun, and funny, at different times also puts it a notch above
other genre material (certainly above other King adaptations about the
mawkish loner with special powers).
Sissy Spacek is in a career-making performance as Carrie, the awkward girl that everybody in school (at least all of the juvenile teen girls in gym class) teases to no end, who's own paralyzed way of being among people works against her. The first big chunk of the film is really dramatically satisfying and heart-wrenching with, aside from the obvious 'trait' Carrie possesses, could happen to any loner teen. After an accident in the girl's shower, to which taunting reaches a high peak, all of the girls (including the likes of PJ Soles, Amy Irving, and the very sexy b*tch Chris played by Nancy Allen) get detention under the only one who really cares for Carrie (Betty Buckley), and so the girls plot revenge involving the senior prom and a bucket of pig's blood. Meanwhile, Carrie still gets her ultimate repression by her bible-thumping, very nuts mother (Piper Laurie in the most successfully over-the-top performance of the film). As the prom nears, a near iconic line 'they're all gonna laugh at you' pops up, and becomes the crux of the last grueling act of the film.
De Palma has only a handful of films that come close to this one for his sheer love for over-stylized, prolonged scenes that almost start to comment on themselves. And there's a really wonderful element to some of it, it's almost akin to Sergio Leone's the Good the Bad and the Ugly in just trying to see how far he can take his style before it might implode or get to just the right height of suspense. Obvious enough are the Hitchcock lifts in parts of the style, most notably in the climax with the split-screens and very similar music cues (all he's missing is Bernard Hermann). But his style works to making scenes already with a satirical tinge funnier as opposed for just shocking edginess. My favorite was the scene showing the gym teacher working the girls hard out on the field, this reaching almost a cartoonish side to it. And, of course, what would a 70s horror movie be without an amazingly explicit, slow-motion jump-cuts in the girl's locker room? This style works best with King's material, adding an extra emphasis on the emotional manipulations and cruelty, and rigid, constricting structure, that school imposes.
Sometimes, too, part of the enjoyment in seeing a film like this is not just the take on a telekinetic getting her vengeance on her teasers and pranksters, but how it all fits well into a psychology and general outlook on High school. Certain scenes with the supporting characters are good at this, like with a very amusing John Travolta and Allen in the car. This is the kind of take on high school life that likely inspired other films like Heathers and Donnie Darko, but Carrie has a kind of timeless quality to it too. On the other hand, if you are looking through the store and want Carrie to be a genuine horror film- once it truly transitions into that section, it's (appropriately) gory, lavish, and unexpected; I had already seen this climactic scene somewhere before seeing the whole film, but it still kept me on my toes, particularly the final confrontation between mother and daughter. One of the best King adaptations and a very good turn from director and cast.
I watch horror movies like I watch a fantasy or science fiction flick. What
I want is usually the paranormal mystery that needs resolving, and the
revelation at the end. I live for the twist. Very few horror movies have
actually scared me. I can think of two. Trouble Every Day, with Vincent
Gallo and Béatrice Dalle, made me feel genuinely sick in a way that no other
movie has and like I thought none could. The other is Carrie, which made my
hair stand on end several times. I mean, I was seriously creeped
I think that for me it was a combination of DePalma's imagery--Spacek is a truly haunting figure, pure nightmare stuff--and the script. And here's what makes Carrie unique. It is actually a character-driven horror story. It just doesn't not follow the mandatory horror movie formula, but it takes its motivation and narrative momentum from the very realistically depicted inner torment of the protagonist. This had the effect of emotionally grounding the story for me, so that when all hell breaks loose, and the blood-drenched Spacek stares at us with empty eyes, it was the proverbial fist squeezing my guts.
Recommended viewing, especially if you are wary of the boring standard-compliant stuff.
If you're looking for the definitive statement on the
experience of high school and being a teenager, forget
"The Breakfast Club". "Carrie" goes deeper and more effectively
into the subject than any shallow John Hughes treatment
ever hope to.
Of course, it's all served up with a large dose of allegory. Regrettably, few of us ever had the capacity for revenge that Carrie White does. But the truth is here: the mindless cruelty of fellow students, the first attempts to establish independence from parents. This horror film has more reality to it than any ten "realistic" teen films.
Additionally, it's in this early DePalma film that we first see his obsession with Hitchcock take shape. Much of the camera work and editing is reminiscent of "Psycho". Even the music score, though credited to a composer as original, is easily recognizable as a cobbling-together of Bernard Herman's "Psycho" score, particularly the music from the shower scene, which is used whenever Carrie's power manifests itself.
The ending is legendary by now, and makes "Carrie" one of the
most imitated films ever made, though few imitators have done their version with so much style and intelligence.
Stephen King's short novel CARRIE, was a decent book, not exactly scary, not
really well-written. Brian De Palma's CARRIE is an exercise in terror. You
can look past the religious symbolism thrown at you whenever Piper Laurie is
on-sceen (she was up for a best supporting Oscar) Just when you think you
have it bad, you see a brutally mis-treated Carrie White. Her mother is a
religious zealot, tossing her in a closet to pray. She is mauled at school
by the immature (and grossly out-dated) teens in the picture. Ah, but she
has a gift: telekinesis! Perfect for an ordinary plain Jane tortured by all
and everyone around her. Horror is not a word I think of when describing
the film. How about fiery intensity and terror. This girl lives in a
Which provides this De Palma classic with a clear and concise context. Carrie can explode at will and knowing this, we are held in a captive state. Also, her mother is probably the most terrifying figure we see. She is a sick, depraved woman who treats Carrie like a miscarriage. The mother knows, however, that her daughter has this gift, so she can be somewhat controlled.
The acting is a bit dated, true, with the exception of the scenes between Spacek and Laurie. (Spacek was also nominated for an Oscar as Carrie) You almost feel like you have stumbled upon a lifestyle you should not be seeing. Piper Laurie is nasty and demented as Mrs. White. This film also has the distinction of being John Travolta's first feature. Vinnie Barbarino goes to the evil heartland. Amy Irving is forgettable and just so happens to be the only star from the original appearing in the upcoming 'sequel'. Watch Spacek and Laurie at work. The prom scene needs no explanation by now. I was reminded of Hitchcock's REBECCA, when Judith Anderson sets Olivier's estate on fire. This, like most of De Palma's work, stands on its own, with a little help from the master.
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.
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