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Carrie (1976) Poster

(1976)

Trivia

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While speaking at a book event in Fort Myers, Florida in 2010, Stephen King recalled that he was paid just $2500 for the movie rights to Carrie-which may seem like a pittance, but he has no regrets. "I was fortunate to have that happen to my first book," King said.
When Sissy Spacek was preparing for her character, she isolated herself from the rest of the ensemble, decorated her dressing room with heavy religious iconography and studied Gustave Doré's illustrated Bible. She studied "the body language of people being stoned for their sins," starting or ending every scene in one of those positions.
The success of Carrie (1976) at the box-office cemented Stephen King's name as an author. King himself was delighted with the film.
Sue Snell and her mother are played by real-life daughter and mother Amy Irving and Priscilla Pointer.
Nancy Allen claims that she never realized that her character was going to be so evil until she saw the finished film, she thought that she and John Travolta were playing such self-centered, bickering morons that they were there for comic relief. Piper Laurie also thought that the character of Margaret White was so over the top that the film had to be a comedy.
The name of the high school is Bates High, a reference to Norman Bates from Psycho (1960). In addition, the four note violin theme from Psycho is used over and over in the film.
This was the first Stephen King novel adapted into a movie.
The dizzying camera shot during the prom scene was achieved by placing William Katt and Sissy Spacek on a platform that was spinning in one direction, while the camera was being dollied in the opposite direction.
According to Piper Laurie, she honestly thought her character was too over the top fanatical to be taken seriously. Brian De Palma had to take her to the side and personally tell her it was a horror film and not a "black comedy" as she thought it was. Even so, she would constantly burst out into laughter between takes because not only was her characterization and wardrobe laughable in her eyes, but the dialogue itself was humorous for her. To this day, she still refers to and maintains the movie as "a black comedy".
Many of the girls present in the locker room were originally hesitant to appear nude in the film, but after Brian De Palma showed them the nude shots of Sissy Spacek, they became more confident.
The prom scene took over two weeks to shoot and required a total of 35 takes.
Brian De Palma wanted Betty Buckley to really slap Nancy Allen. Because Allen couldn't get the reaction De Palma wanted, Buckley ended up slapping her as many as thirty times.
To become Carrie, Sissy Spacek would intentionally avoid socializing with the other actors on and off set. She would stay in her trailer, or hide in the corner, or behind the set. Also, before this happened, she warned the other actors that although she loved them, she would be avoiding them so she could stay in character. She told them that they would have so much fun together after the movie was finished.
Sissy Spacek was 25 at the time of filming. Carrie is seventeen in the novel.
Sissy Spacek asked Brian De Palma how he wanted her to react when Carrie first realizes that she is bleeding in the showers at the start and De Palma told her "It's like you've been hit by a truck." Spacek talked to her husband Jack Fisk (art director), who as a child had been run over by a car when he was standing in the streets looking at Christmas lights a neighbor had put up, and used his description of the experience as a basis for the scene.
Originally, Brian De Palma had used the split screen effect extensively during the prom scene. Disappointed with the results, he re-edited most of the scenes into full frame shots leaving only the few split screen moments that he felt worked.
For her screen test, Sissy Spacek rubbed Vaseline into her hair and didn't bother to wash her face. She also wore a sailor dress (which her mother had made for her when she was in the seventh grade) with the hem cut off.
Stephen King was reluctant to send Carrie to a publisher because it sounded (to him) the least marketable of all his manuscripts at the time. But horror was a hot commodity what with successes like The Exorcist (1973) and Rosemary's Baby (1968) so the novel became a sleeper success. To this day, King doesn't know what would have happened to his marriage to Tabitha King and sanity if Carrie had been rejected.
Amy Irving admits that she originally hated the script when she first received it. After seeing the finished film, she thought it was simply 'magic' and loved it.
Adding to the mother's psychotic character is the fact that none of the Bible passages in the film are real. For example, she quotes Genesis chapter 3 to say that sexuality is evil. That chapter is actually the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. The Bible doesn't say anything the mother says it does.
Sissy Spacek wasn't considered for the role of Carrie until her husband, art director Jack Fisk, convinced director Brian De Palma to allow her to audition. Until that, De Palma was wedded to the idea of Amy Irving playing Carrie; when Spacek got the part instead, De Palma gave Irving the smaller role of Sue.
In Carrie's house, the statue of a religious figure shot with arrows represents St. Sebastian. It is not a crucifix and does not represent Jesus Christ.
The ring that Amy Irving wears throughout the movie was a gift to her from Stephen King the author of the book the film is based on.
A major box office hit for United Artists, grossing over $33 million in the US from a $1.8 million investment.
Shot over a period of 50 days.
Piper Laurie claims that she initially thought the script was a satire of a horror film.
Initially, P.J. Soles was only cast for two weeks, but after she hit Sissy Spacek over the head with her red baseball hat during the volleyball scene, Brian De Palma decided to keep her around longer.
Betty Buckley was 28 at the time of filming, only two years older than Sissy Spacek, and three years older than Nancy Allen and P.J. Soles, who play her students.
In a 2010 interview with "The A.V. Club", P.J. Soles said that Steven Spielberg often came to the set at Brian De Palma's invitation because DePalma told him that there were "a lot of cute girls down here." Soles said that Spielberg asked out most of the women on the set, Soles included, and Amy Irving was the only one who accepted. Irving and Spielberg were married from 1985-1989 and had one son together.
In real life, Sissy Spacek attended Quitman High School and was homecoming queen.
Stephen King was paid $2,500 for the film rights.
Stephen King got the idea for Carrie while working in a laundry. Some of the characters, like Carrie's religious fanatical mother, were based on people who worked there with him.
Piper Laurie had retired from the movie business after The Hustler (1961) when the script for Carrie (1976) came her way. She initially didn't understand the script at all, thinking it rather clichéd, until her husband pointed out that de Palma usually took a comedic approach to his work. When she reread the screenplay with that viewpoint, the part of Margaret White made a lot more sense to Laurie.
Stephen King wrote his first novel whilst he was also working for $1.60 an hour at an industrial laundry.
George Lucas and Brian De Palma held a joint audition for Carrie and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). There is a long-standing rumor that originally, Sissy Spacek was cast as Princess Leia, and Carrie Fisher as Carrie, but when Fisher refused to appear in nude scenes and Spacek was willing to do them, they switched parts. However, Fisher refuted this story in a Premiere magazine article called "The Force Wasn't With Them," about actors who auditioned unsuccessfully for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). That article quoted Fisher as saying, "Not only do I love being nude, I would've been nude then... But anyway, it's total bullshit [that Fisher refused to play Carrie]."
The ending of the movie is different than the ending from the novel, and in fact, Stephen King liked the ending in the movie better than the ending of his own book.
Betty Buckley provides the voice over ("Creepy Carrie! Creepy Carrie!") for the little boy on the bike that chastises Carrie on her way home.
Bernard Herrmann, who had been nominated for an Oscar for the music to De Palma's previous film Obsession (1976), was slated to compose this score but passed away the December before the film was completed. Hermann's four note violin theme from Psycho (1960) is used over and over in this film.
Some of Carrie derived from Stephen King's own experiences as a teacher.
Sissy Spacek would later perform the audiobook of Carrie.
Amy Irving, who played Sue Snell, originally read for the part of Princess Leia, and William Katt, who played Tommy Ross, originally read for the part of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Linda Blair auditioned for the role of Carrie but turned it down fearing being typecast. Jill Clayburgh also auditioned for the title role, but was passed over. Farrah Fawcett also auditioned for the part, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts from Charlie's Angels (1976).
Amy Irving's feature film debut.
After Stephen King wrote the manuscript for Carrie, he shelved it and got to work on his next novel, Salem's Lot.
The now iconic reverse shot final scene was also filmed at night, using artificial lighting to create the desired effect. The whole scene was intended as a homage to the final scene in Deliverance (1972).
Carrie is the movie where Brian De Palma and Nancy Allen met. They eventually married each other.
Stephen King was such a newcomer at the time of the film's release his first name was actually misspelled in the movie's trailer (it was written as Steven, not Stephen).
According to the DVD extras, Betsy Slade was Brian De Palma's early choice for the role of Carrie White based on the strength of her appearance as a teenage girl seeking an abortion in the film Our Time (1974). Sissy Spacek's screen test was so persuasive, however, she ultimately won the role.
Melanie Griffith auditioned for a role.
DIRECTORS SIGNATURE: Split screen segment during the prom massacre also used in SISTERS (1973).
The song played at the prom while Tommy and Carrie dance was performed by Katie Irving, the sister of Amy Irving.
The film that Tommy and Sue are watching on TV when Tommy agrees to take Carrie to the prom is Duel at Diablo (1966).
Amy Irving was originally rather disappointed that many of her larger scenes were cut. A scene featuring Irving and William Katt in the backseat of his truck was cut, for reasons unknown.
The book Carrie reads in the library, "The Secret Science Behind Miracles", is in fact a real book, written by Max Freedom Long in 1948, with the ISBN being 0875160476. The telekinesis definition from the book that Carrie reads is actually in the real book.
The film's original trailer, now available on the DVD, shows an alternate take of Carrie in the shower stall from the beginning and the original voice of the little boy taunting Carrie from his bicycle (overdubbed by Betty Buckley in the finished film).
Betty Buckley's movie debut.
Sissy Spacek was invited to audition for the character of Sue Snell or Chris Hargensen, but Brian De Palma wanted her for the lead.
The split screen finale took 'Brian de Palma' six weeks to cut together.
The boy on the bike was played by Brian De Palma's nephew Cameron.
Nancy Allen was the last person to audition for the film, and her audition came just as she was on the verge of leaving Hollywood.
Initial director of photography Isidore Mankofsky was fired early into production after clashing with 'Brian de Palma' and was replaced by Mario Tosi.
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Sissy Spacek's husband, Jack Fisk, insisted that she audition for the title role.
When Brian De Palma cast John Travolta in Carrie he did not realize that Travolta was on the show Welcome Back, Kotter (1975).
Screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen went on to collaborate with composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford and create "Carrie: The Musical", which debuted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Terry Hands and choreographed by Debbie Allen in Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom in 1988. Later that same year, the production was transferred to Broadway, where Betty Buckley (Miss Collins from the film) replaced Barbara Cook as Margaret White. The Broadway run only lasted five performances, and it is considered by many to be the most spectacular flop in Broadway history. However, Linzi Hateley, who played the title role in her Broadway debut, won a Theatre World Award for her performance. The song "When There's No One" from the show is included on Buckley's Sterling records release "Children Will Listen". No official cast album exists, although several unofficial recordings have been made.
Sissy Spacek filmed the scene in the locker room shower without any of the other actresses on the set.
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Betty Buckley's terrified look on the face right before she gets killed is real, since they hadn't been able to test the falling backboard to make sure it would stop where it was supposed to before hitting her and no one knew for certain whether it would work.
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Edie McClurg (who played Helen) originally had no dialogue in any part of the film, so she decided to improvise instead. This resulted in everything that we see Helen say in the film being completely made up by the actress, with Brian De Palma's blessing, naturally.
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This was Brian De Palma's first commercially successful film.
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Betty Buckley had originally auditioned for a part in 'Brian de Palma''s Phantom of the Paradise (1974). She didn't get the part but de Palma kept using her for looping purposes on that film and his subsequent movie, _Obsession_ , before ultimately beefing up the part of the gym teacher for her for Carrie (1976).
John Travolta auditioned on a lunch break while filming Welcome Back, Kotter (1975). He showed up for his audition still dressed as Vinnie Barbarino.
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Sissy Spacek loved to watch audience's reactions to the ending. "When I was in New York, and Carrie came out, I would go to theaters just for the last five minutes of the film to watch everyone jump out of their chairs," Spacek recalled. "People are all relaxed. The music is really beautiful and relaxing, and all of a sudden that comes up, and people just go crazy."
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The filming of the prom scene took days and Sissy Spacek refused to wash off the fake blood so that the continuity of the movie was not harmed. She actually slept in the "bloody" clothes for three days of filming.
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This was John Travolta's first major film role.
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Stephen King was happy with the choice of Brian De Palma as the director because he liked one of De Palma's previous films, Sisters (1972).
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Stephen King said that while the film is dated, it is "good. It's much better than the book."
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Quentin Tarantino has said this is one of his favorite movies ever.
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Carrie is one of several characters in Stephen King novels (usually female) that have mental powers. Others are Firestarter, The Shining and it's sequel Doctor Sleep.
Brian De Palma wanted a screeching music cue for the mirror breaking. It was after making that decision when he realized Psycho (1960) had already used the exact music he was looking for, but he went with it anyways.
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Amy Irving (Sue Snell) was the only cast member who reprised her role in the sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999).
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The book takes place in Maine. The movie takes place in North Carolina.
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Carrie at the prom is described in the novel as "looking like the Tar Baby" in that Disney movie Song of the South (1946) when Brer Rabbit is covered in tar and his big white eyes are peering out.
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Ironically, Sissy Spacek was voted Homecoming Queen in high school.
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During filming of the scene where Miss Collins is chewing out the girls in gym, Brian De Palma was standing behind Amy Irving just off screen and whispering cruel and hurtful things into her ears in order to make Sue's look of misery and guilt on camera look genuine.
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When Carrie flips Billy's car, the interior shot shows them spinning along with it. This effect was achieved by spinning the film frame in post production.
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For the 40th anniversary of the release of Carrie (1976), the film was screened in downtown Los Angeles at the Ace Hotel on October 14, 2016, as the highlight of a local fundraiser for weSPARK Cancer Center in which Nancy Allen, who played the vile blonde Chris, is its longtime executive director. The non-profit organization, created by Wendie Jo Sperber, who asked her friend Allen to take it over upon her death, offers free services to cancer patients and their families. A Q&A session immediately followed the screening that included Allen, Piper Laurie, P.J. Soles and editor Paul Hirsch. Allen commented, having not seen the movie in some time, that it was "creepy" to see the frequently abusive, (now) politically incorrect slapping done in the film. She confessed that John Travolta, who played her boyfriend, was very wary of slapping Nancy and claimed that those slaps were fake. The slaps she received from Betty Buckley, however, who played her high school phys ed teacher, were hard and real, prompted by director Brian De Palma so he could get the right reaction from Allen.
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The other bully girls' names besides Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), Norma Watson (P.J. Soles), Helen Shyres (Edie McClurg) are Tina Blake, Cora Wilson (Cindy Daly), Rhonda Wilson (Deirdre Berthrong), Ruth Gogan, Mary Lila Grace, and Katie O'Shea (Katie Irving).
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The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Sissy Spacek; and three Oscar nominees: John Travolta, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving.
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Carrie's real name is Carrietta. Margaret calls her this at the beginning right after she's been sent home from school.
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All four films in the "Carrie" series have had a death that involved water. Carrie sprays Norma Watson into a table with a water hose in this film. Rachel shuts the pool cover, causing Mark to drown in this films sequel. Carrie electrocutes most of the students by throwing a basketball scorekeeper into the water in the second film adaptation and Carrie uses electoral wires to do the same in the third adaption.
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Sondra Locke said Brian De Palma wanted her to play Carrie, but her agent advised her to turn it down. The then 32-year-old actress was actually three years older than Betty Buckley who De Palma cast as the gym teacher.
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Carrie is based on a composite of two girls Stephen King observed while attending grade school and high school.Of one of them, he recalled:"She was a very peculiar girl who came from a very peculiar family. Her mother wasn't a religious nut like the mother in Carrie; she was a game nut, a sweepstakes nut who subscribed to magazines for people who entered contests...the girl had one change of clothes for the entire school year, and all the other kids made fun of her."
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In the book, the gym teacher is called Miss Desjardin.
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Sissy Spacek was widely thought to be too pretty for the title role, the character in the book being described as chunky, mousy-haired and covered in pimples with Spacek being a tall thin redhead with clear skin. The character was then rewritten slightly, saying that she would be pretty if she made an effort to tidy herself up a bit.
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The song that plays during Carrie and Tommy's dance at the prom is sung by Katie Irving, Amy Irving's sister and Priscilla Pointer's other daughter.
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There was originally a scene where Carrie as a little girl is caught talking to a woman sunbathing in the backyard by her mother. Margaret drags Carrie inside and Carrie makes stones rain on the house which tied with the original ending of her burying the house in a shower of boulders. The scene was dropped because the stones didn't have the right effect.
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Piper Laurie said that the wounds her character, Margaret White, inflicts on herself toward the end of the film, were not created by makeup.
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John Travolta drives a 1967 Chevelle SS 396 hardtop in this film, and in Pulp Fiction (1994), he drove a 1964 Chevelle Malibu convertible.
Amy Irving and Priscilla Pointer (who plays her mother in the film) lost their father/husband the same year of filming. Jules Irving died of a heart attack in 1979 on a vacation trip to Reno, Nevada, aged 54.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The White house was filmed in Santa Paula, California and to give the home a Gothic theme, director and producers went to religious shops looking for artifacts to place in the home.
Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the 15th scariest movie of all time.
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The only adaptation of the novel where John Hargensen, Chris's father, does not make an appearance.
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Martin Scorsese saw the film three times when it was released in theaters.
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Glenn Close auditioned for the role of Carrie.
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Kay Lenz was considered for the role of Chris Hargensen.
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This was Betty Buckley's first film.
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At the Academy Awards, Sissy Spacek was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category. Piper Laurie was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nominated the film for a Golden Scroll in the category of Best Horror Film. The Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival gave the Grand Prize to Brian De Palma. A special mention was made out to Sissy Spacek for her acting. The Edgar Allan Poe Awards nominated "Carrie" for an Edgar for Best Motion Picture.
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John Travolta, who was then the star of Welcome Back, Kotter (1975), got second billing on the posters behind Sissy Spacek, even though he played a minor character.
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The uncredited band that performs at the prom is named "Vance or Towers". The uncredited song that they perform, "Education Blues", is available on their 1975 self-titled album.
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The only adaptation not to feature Tina Blake as Chris's best friend and secondary antagonist, this role is instead filled in by Norma Watson, a minor character in the novel. Tina is in the film though she is only in the background during the gym class scenes, and ironic bait and switch scenario.
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Originally John Travolta was considered for the role of Tommy Ross and Chevy Chase was in mind for the role of Billy Nolan
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Carrie is the only Stephen King story Brian De Palma has adapted into a film.
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The cast features three David Lynch alumni: Sissy Spacek (The Straight Story (1999)), Piper Laurie (_Twin Peaks_) and Priscilla Pointer (Blue Velvet (1986)).
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William Katt and Amy Irving had previously dated in real life.
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This was Piper Laurie's first theatrical film since The Hustler (1961) 15 years earlier and her first on screen acting role since The Long Hunt of April Savage (1966).
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Nancy Allen later married her director Brian De Palma in 1979 and appeared in several of his films following their marriage, including Dressed to Kill (1980) and Blow Out (1981). The latter film reunited her with her Carrie (1976) co-star John Travolta. Allen and De Palma divorced in 1984.
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John Ritter was considered for the role of Tommy Ross
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John Travolta said the phrase "Get her done" before Larry the Cable Guy started saying it. He says it in the scene where he tells his friend to "Get her done" (referring to killing the pig for the blotto dump on Carried at the prom).
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There was a carrie-oriented parody of the song "Let it Go" with lyrics telling the Carrie story
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Carrie is thought to be another variation on The Exorcist (1973). This time it's a teenager though, not a little girl, and it's told from the girl's perspective, not the bible thumping parents. Interestingly, Linda Blair was offered the lead role.
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The film was released only three months after Brian De Palma's Obsession (1976).
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Margaret White, with her twisted and terrifying hatred of sex, bears a resemblance to Carol in Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

For when the fire hose kills P.J. Soles's character, the water pressure actually burst her eardrums. Soles is not actually unconscious when her head rolls to the side from the force of the fire hose, but she is in terrible pain and has lost her ability to maintain equilibrium (which is governed by the ear). Brian De Palma decided to keep the shot in. Soles had no hearing in that ear for about six months afterward, though the eardrum did eventually heal.
Ever the stickler for authenticity, Sissy Spacek insisted that she - not a double - be the one whose hand shoots up out of Carrie's grave during Sue Snell's nightmare sequenceso she was positioned under the rocks and gravel. De Palma stated, "Sissy, come on, I'll get a stunt person. What do you want? To be buried in the ground?!" However, Spacek declared, "Brian, I have to do this." De Palma explains that they "had to bury her. Bury her! We had to put her in a box and stick her underneath the ground. Well, I had her husband bury her because I certainly didn't want to bury her. I used to walk around and set up the shot and every once in a while we'd hear Sissy: 'Are we ready yet?' 'Yeah, Sissy, we're going to be ready real soon.'"
In the last scene of the film, Amy Irving's outburst so terrified her mother Priscilla Pointer, that she screamed out "Amy" instead of "Sue." She had never seen her daughter that hysterical and called out her real name in concern. However, the loud ending music covered the mistake.
While filming the bloody prom sequence, Sissy Spacek's trailer was parked behind the set. After being covered in fake blood, for continuity purposes, Spacek refused to wash the effect off. She elected instead to sleep in her bloody clothes for three days of filming.
Brian De Palma had to dump a scene from the novel where Carrie blows up petrol stations with her mind, setting the town on fire. The effects work would have been too expensive.
Brian de Palma' told Sissy Spacek that it was completely unnecessary for her hand to shoot out from Carrie's grave but Spacek persisted. Consequently she found herself put in a coffin and stuck underground. De Palma had her husband, production designer Jack Fisk, put her in the box as he didn't want the responsibility.
In the second-to-last scene (where Amy Irving lays flowers on Carrie's grave) to make it more "eerie", the shot was filmed backwards - then run in reverse in slo-mo - to give it a surreal effect. This is evidenced by a background automobile traversing the perpendicular intersection backwards, which the viewer can clearly observe as driving in reverse.
The fake blood dropped on Sissy Spacek kept drying and adhering to her skin because of the hot lights. The only solution was to hose her down when the substance got gluey.
Betty Buckley didn't know until the day of filming that her character would perish in the prom firestorm.
When Carrie flips Billy's car, the interior shot shows them spinning along with it. This effect was not achieved by actually rotating the actors in a car but by simply spinning the film frame in post production.
Piper Laurie's death scene took a whole day to film.
The script called for a model of the White home to be crushed by a hail of boulders at the end, to tie in with a scene which was cut from the beginning of the movie showing pebbles showering down on the house after Carrie has a fight with her mother. The filmmakers spent an evening trying unsuccessfully to pull off the effect, and as dawn approached, they abandoned the boulders and decided to burn it down. They liked what they saw so it stayed in the film, although internal scenes remain showing rocks coming through the roof.
To create the scene where Margaret White is stabbed by flying knives, it was filmed in reverse and began with her pinned to the wall, then strings pulled out the knives and the final film was run backwards.
The only adaptation of the novel where Gym teacher Ms. Desjardin (Collins in this film) actually dies in the prom massacre and doesn't survive.
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Body Count: 10 - Margaret White, Carrie White, Chris Hargensen, Billy Nolan, Tommy Ross, Norma Watson, Ms. Collins, Mr. Fromm, Principal Morton, and Helen Shyres, plus an unspecified number of miscellaneous victims of the prom massacre.
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When Carrie's mother meets her demise, she is stabbed multiple times. For this scene, the knives started off in Margaret's body before being pulled out by string. When editing the scene, they played the footage in reverse to achieve the look of the knives flying towards Margaret.
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The final scene, in which Sue reaches toward Carrie's grave, was shot backwards to give it a dreamlike quality. This scene was inspired by the final scene in Deliverance (1972).
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