Tuesday, January 4, 2011


(November 1976, U.S.)

If you know Steven Spielberg's JAWS (1975) well enough, then you know that we don't get to see the shark for about the first hour of the film. Brian DePalma's CARRIE is the same in the fact that for the first 70 minutes of the film, nothing really terrifying happens, despite the fact that the film is labeled as a horror movie. In fact, I would actually consider much of what happens in Carrie White's home life and life at Bates High School rather comical. To take it even a step further, if I were one of the individuals who had written THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985) or MEAN GIRLS (2004), I might have gotten much of my inspiration from CARRIE.

For those who don't know, CARRIE was the first published novel from Stephen King and it actually had to be rescued from the trash by his wife before it ever saw the light of the publishing world (thank goodness for trash-retrieving wives!). Carrie White (played unforgettably by Sissy Spacek) is a socially outcast teenage girl who discovers she possesses telekinetic powers which seems to flare up when she becomes angry or otherwise distressed. Carrie's powers become apparent after her humiliation by her peers, teachers, and religiously-abusive mother (played frighteningly by Piper Laurie), eventually resulting in horrible tragedy. Tragedy is the key word here because outwardly it appears as if Carrie's poor, unfortunate soul will be saved as she is very briefly accepted by her peers and even crowned queen of the senior prom. But we, as the audience, are already previously let in on the gag that she will, once again, fall victim to an incredibly sick joke in the form of a bucket of pig's blood. DePalma uses the art of a very long slow motion sequence leading up to the tragic (there's that word again) moment when the rope will be pulled and the blood will spill. It's ironic to think that during that sequence, student Sue Snell (played by Amy Irving) is the only one racing against time to try and stop this from happening and ends up getting thrown out of the high school gym. As a result of that, she's the only one who survives the raging inferno that kills everyone in the senior class. I defy anyone not to feel just a little freaked out while staring at Carrie's wide-eyed, almost catatonic expression as she unleashes her vengeful wrath on those who have used her and abused her for the last time.

As previously mentioned, CARRIE is (technically) a horror film. But it's also easy to view the film as scary-funny or as a teasing and terrifying, even lyrical shocker. Whatever CARRIE may be viewed as, it's left enough of a long-lasting impression on those who appreciate well made scary movies. The unfortunate side of its popularity is that it's spawned some really, really bad follow-ups in the form of a notorious 1988 Broadway musical (???), a bad 1999 sequel and a forgetable 2002 television remake.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Margaret White: " I should've killed myself when he put it in me. After the first time, before we were married, Ralph promised never again. He promised, and I believed him. But sin never dies. Sin never dies. At first, it was all right. We lived sinlessly. We slept in the same bed, but we never did it. And then, that night, I saw him looking down at me that way. We got down on our knees to pray for strength. I smelled the whiskey on his breath. Then he took me. He took me, with the stink of filthy roadhouse whiskey on his breath, and I liked it. I liked it! With all that dirty touching of his hands all over me. I should've given you to God when you were born, but I was weak and backsliding, and now the devil has come home. We'll pray."
Carrie White: "Yes."
Margaret: "We'll pray. We'll pray. We'll pray for the last time. We'll pray."


  1. About a year after I saw "Carrie," I saw Sissy Spacek again in "Missing" and wished that she could have carried over some of that telekenesis to do the job on Pinochet and the CIA--now that would have given the picture a happy ending!

  2. It's just a shame that the last American film from Costa-Gavras was MAD CITY (1997). I expected a whole lot more from the director of Z, one of the best political thrillers ever made!