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Carrie (1976) Poster

(1976)

Trivia

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.
Jump to: Spoilers (16)
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.
Stephen King based Carrie White on two girls he knew while at school, both were social outcasts from deeply religious families and both died while still in their twenties.
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.
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.
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.
The prom scene took over two weeks to shoot and required a total of 35 takes.
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".
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.
Sissy Spacek was 25 at the time of filming. Carrie is seventeen in the novel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shot over a period of 50 days.
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.
Piper Laurie claims that she initially thought the script was a satire of a horror film.
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.
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.
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 wrote his first novel whilst he was also working for $1.60 an hour at an industrial laundry.
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.
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]."
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.
Betty Buckley provides the voice over ("Creepy Carrie! Creepy Carrie!") for the little boy on the bike that chastises Carrie on her way home.
Some of Carrie derived from Stephen King's own experiences as a teacher.
The ending of the movie is different than the ending from the Stephen King novel, and in fact Stephen King liked the ending in the movie better than the ending of his own book.
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).
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.
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.
According to the audio commentary on the DVD, Carrie is a composite of two girls Stephen King knew, though only one of them was a classmate of his. Prior to the publication of Carrie, his first published novel, King had been an English teacher. The second girl who inspired Carrie was one of his students.
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.
The film that Tommy and Sue are watching on TV when Tommy agrees to take Carrie to the prom is Duel at Diablo (1966).
The song played at the prom while Tommy and Carrie dance was performed by Katie Irving, the sister of Amy Irving.
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.
Betty Buckley's movie debut.
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).
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.
Brian De Palma's first commercially successful film.
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DIRECTORS SIGNATURE: Split screen segment during the prom massacre also used in SISTERS (1973).
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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 boy on the bike was played by Brian De Palma's nephew Cameron.
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.
Sissy Spacek's husband, Jack Fisk, insisted that she audition for the title role.
Nancy Allen was the last person to audition for the film.
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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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.
Pamela Sue Martin was considered for the role of Carrie White.
The auditions for Carrie and Star Wars were held at the same time in the same room. Both George Lucas and Brian Depalma would audition each actor at the same time.
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When Brian De Palma cast John Travolta in Carrie he did not realize that Travolta was on the show Welcome Back, Kotter (1975).
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).
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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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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.
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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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John Travolta drives a 1967 Chevelle SS 396 hardtop in this film, and in Pulp Fiction (1994), he drove a 1964 Chevelle Malibu convertible.
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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The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Sissy Spacek; and three Oscar nominees: John Travolta, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving.
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Sissy Spacek filmed the scene in the locker room shower without any of the other actresses on the set.
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Quentin Tarantino has said this is one of his favorite movies ever.
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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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Stephen King said the film version of "Carrie" is "good. It's much better than the book."
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(10 December 2006) Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) and Tommy Ross (William Katt) love story inspired Sergi Rubió's Madison Class of '64 (2006)
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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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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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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The book takes place in Maine. The movie takes place in North Carolina.
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Martin Scorsese saw Carrie three times when it was released in theaters.
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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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John Travolta auditioned on a lunch break while filming Welcome Back Kotter. He showed up for his audition still dressed as Vinnie Barbarino.
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Carrie is the only Stephen King story Brian De Palma has adapted into a film.
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(8 February 2007) Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) and Tommy Ross (William Katt) love story inspired Sergi Rubió's Laia Laiona (2007)
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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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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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Carrie at the prom is described in the novel as "looking like the Tar Baby" in that Disney movie Song of the South when Brer Rabbit is covered in tar and his big white eyes are peering out.
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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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Margaret White, with her twisted and terrifying hatred of sex, bears a resemblance to Carol in Roman Polanski's "Repulsion".
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Carrie is thought to be another variation on The Exorcist. 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.
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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 was released only 3 months after Brian De Palma's Obsession.
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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 sequence.
The pig's blood dumped on Sissy Spacek was karo syrup and food coloring, although she was willing to have real blood dumped on her.
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: 8 - Margaret White, Carrie White, Chris Hargensen, Billy Nolan, Tommy Ross, Norma Watson, Ms. Collins, and Helen Shyres, plus an unspecified number of miscellaneous victims of the prom massacre.
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