- Directed by Brian De Palma
- November 3, 1976
A high school teenager entering puberty learns that she has dangerous psychic powers.
Puberty, high school, boys, religion, a crazy mom, and psychic powers mixed together in this mid-70s classic from Brian De Palma. That is a lot to put into a movie or a book. So much content could make a film feel overstuffed, but De Palma manages to avoid that.
Carrie touches on subjects of acceptance and loneliness and abuse. The abuse is not just from her classmates but from Carrie’s own mother (Piper Laurie). She is a fanatically religious woman who has controlled Carrie to the point that she is unaware of something as basic as getting a period-which is where the story starts. The mother’s reaction to such a natural thing demonstrates just how unstable she is.
Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a continual reminder to her mother of everything that went wrong with her life and her own weakness that caused her to give in to a man that she knew was not good in a moment of passion that she enjoyed but also found disgusting. Her acts of abuse are just her trying to fix the own perceived wrongs and flaws of her past.
The school administration is indifferent to Carrie’s plight as well as her existence. The only one that shows any interest in protecting Carrie is her gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) who initially feels the same as Carrie’s classmate Chris (Nancy “eventually Mrs. De Palma” Allen), Norma (P. J. Soles), and Sue (Amy Irving) who is remorseful over her treatment of Carrie but not THAT remorseful. Miss Collins though comes to pity Carrie and looks out for her as best as possible.
The teenage Chris is bat shit crazy in her hate for Carrie. She, along with Norma and Sue, craft a plot to humiliate Carrie in front of the whole school during prom by rigging the Prom Queen election. Carrie is unpopular having been forced to avoid a social life by her mother and thinks going to the prom, let alone going with a date, is beyond her reach until Tommy (William “Ralph Hinkley/Hanley” Katt) asks her out. In reality the request by Tommy is part of the plot to get her to the prom for the humiliation where Chris and her boyfriend Billy (John “Vinnie Barbarino” Travolta) will dump a bucket of pig’s blood on Carrie’s head. This leads to one of the most iconic moments in film history.
“Horror” is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Brian De Palma. I think more along the lines of crime thrillers or erotically tinged dramas than horror. Then again, he also did The Fury two years after this.
Carrie is a pretty good film from start to finish. Aside from the cast looking a little too old to be in high school, my only beef with this movie is that dream sequence bit at the end. I have not read the book by Stephen King upon which this is based but the scene felt tacked on. It is a shocking moment but completely unnecessary.
On a personal note I have known a few extremely religious parents. A few of them would probably be on the same level as Carrie’s mother but none of them ever dressed in a black cloak like she did. It is like she was going to a funeral in the 1800s. Either this was a heavy-handed device to drive home her religious nature which was pretty obvious by the acting and her dialogue or somebody important in the production really thought extremely religious people dressed like this just because.
Other than that Carrie is a well acted and well directed film. You will be glued to it from beginning to end. This is a watch it!