Classic Review – Carrie (1976)


Title – Carrie (1976)

Director – Brian De Palma (Passion)

Cast – Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley

Plot – Bullied school girl Carrie White (Spacek) must deal with the constant harsh realities of school life and the even harsher reality of her mother Margaret’s (Laurie) overbearing Christianity. Carrie however harbors a deep supernatural secret that threatens to turn the High School Prom into something else entirely.

“They’re all gonna laugh at you”

Review by Eddie on 21/11/2013

Upon watching Carrie for the very first time in today’s modern age one wishes that it were possible to go back and witness the film in a packed cinema screening upon release for it would have been a grand and previously unseen experience, for Carrie is a film that feels ahead of it’s time and stands the test of age to still be shocking and frightfully spot on in it’s depiction of teenage isolation and discovery of oneself.

Carrie needs no real introduction as many know the story of bullied social outcast Carrie White, played so well by the then 26 year old Sissy Spacek. Spacek will forever be known for her role in this picture and what a great feat to lay hold on as her performance in the film is so eerily spot on you almost forget that she in fact isn’t Carrie. Other performers in the film also resonate with special mention to Piper Laurie as Carrie’s god fearing and overbearing mother Margaret and Betty Buckley as Carrie’s gym teacher Miss Collins. The film also features early performances from John Travolta as idiotic teen Billy Nolan and Nancy Allen as evil school girl Chris.

Much of Carrie’s success must be related back to director Brian De Palma who directs the film with that voyeuristic style that made him famous in films such as Dressed to Kill and Body Double. If a film were to open the way it does as with this original Carrie today it would lose none of it’s downright creepy vibe and would remain just as controversial. De Palma sticks to his guns throughout the entire runtime and is aided by a now equally classic film score from Pino Donaggio giving the film a unique moody atmospheric feel.

I have no idea why it took so long into my life to catch this original horror classic but I am glad I have before I partake eventually in the newly updated version with Chloe Grace Moretz. I can see already that the film will have a tough time justifying it’s existence as Carrie is the quintessential version of the Stephen King story and a movie that still shocks as it did upon release.

4 buckets of pig blood out of 5

38 responses to “Classic Review – Carrie (1976)

  1. DePalma is a master at suspense! I even think his lesser received film, Blow Out, was fantastic. The part in Carrie when the camera follows the rope up to the bucket of blood is amazing. Each time he cut back to the prom king and queen, he slowed down the action (slo-mo) by 50% for each shot until they were barely moving. The first time I saw it I was leaning out of my seat, waiting for it to happen. I always picture Carrie as a story that happened in the 1970’s. My daughter asked me why they were all running around naked after gym – I had to tell her that in the 70’s, you were forced to shower after gym class for hygenic purposes. It was not a good thing!

    • Blow out is one I have been meaning to catch for a long while now, I have heard many a fantastic thing about that movie and how it builds suspense.

      That is a tad awkward conversation but if it’s the truth it’s good to hear De Palma didn’t just have it in there for no reason.

      • I hated it! I had my mom write me a note saying I had psoriasis so I wouldn’t have to take a shower after gym. Its bad enough we had to run around in those terrible gym shorts, LOL. If you don’t know what I’m talking about look up some clips of 1970’s basketball games – the shorts were not meant for men.

  2. I’m 48, so I was able to see the original “Carrie” in theaters in the late 1970’s. In fact, I’ve seen every major incarnation of the Carrie character since then too! It’s all covered in my review of the most recent film version, as well as a review of last year’s off-Broadway revival. Pleased that you enjoyed the original Eddie—we jumped out of our seats when that hand came up! ML

    • Hi Mark, that hand scene got my heart pumping that is for sure! Glad to hear you got to see it and remember it so fondly then following on with it’s other incarnations. So you have not yet seen the updated 2013 version?

  3. For some reason Stephen King’s work usually fails to translate to the screen, but in the case of Carrie it does, big time. It’s a deeply unsettling film that I’ve only seen once and will go out of my way to never see again, but other than The Untouchables it’s DePalma’s best directing job. He REALLY captured the source material.
    King’s gift is the ability to take a sun-drenched, quintessentially American vista and slowly, horribly, twist it. In the case of Carrie he had to twist less than usual: start digging just beneath the surface of any high school in the country and you will quickly find a certain percentage of teenagers walking around in nightmares.

      • Yes, only just got round to writing about it- I loved it. It benefited from a little modernisation. I’m a huge fan of the original but Moore and Mortez gave amazing portrayals as Margaret and Carrie White.
        Carie was a little unbelievable as Chloe Graze Mortez really is too pretty for the part. it was 100% more gory than the original and they added bits in for Margaret White that seemed a bit ott.
        It will never beat the original but I’m glad it was made!

      • That’s great to hear! I reckon Jordan will be pumped to check this one out once it makes its way onto home release I might have to get on board as well.

  4. I’ve seen this version of Carrie nine times since September. I love this movie so much! I actually find it to be better than the book (even though that was pretty good). It’s more than just a supernatural horror film; it can be defined as a high school film and a film of adolescent angst. No one can play the title character better than Sissy Spacek! I can relate to her with my troubles with bullies at school. It’s hard not to feel bad for what Carrie has gone through most of her life.
    The 2013 remake wasn’t too bad until the ridiculous final act. I’m going to avoid the 1999 sequel and the 2002 TV remake, and continue to watch the original 1976 classic (which I actually written a review for it, if you wanna check it out) for the rest of my life. It’s devastating as it is very disturbing!

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