Movie Name: Carrie
Studio: United Artists
Release Date(s): November 3, 1976
MPAA Rating: R
Everyone laughs at Carrie White (Sissy Spacek)…but Carrie White has a secret. She can move things with her mind. Her mother (Piper Laurie) blames the Devil, but Carrie’s going to be sure that no one laughs at her again.
Directed by Brian De Palma, Carrie is a horror classic. Based on the 1974 novel by Stephen King (his first), Carrie is one of those rare horror movies that also got a lot of critical acclaim. Sissy Spacek picked up an Academy Award Best Actress nomination and Piper Laurie also was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as her maniacal mother. It frequently is listed as one of the best horror films of all time.
The movie is quick, short, and to the point. It also says a lot about high school (although none of the kids look like they are in high school) and bullying. It does take some changes from the novel which is set up in flashbacks as the case is dissected by the public and the courts. The movie also eliminates the novel ending scene which had Carrie dying in a parking lot with Sue Snell near her and instead has the classic image of Carrie pull her own home down upon her and the body of her mother.
The movie was also a who’s who of up & coming actors. It was cast at the same time as Star Wars and many of Carrie’s actors have test footage doing Star Wars scenes and Star Wars actors can be seen doing Carrie’s scenes. John Travolta made the big leap from television to appear in this movie as Billy Nolan and Nancy Allen who played Chris Hargensen went on to marry DePalma. Betty Buckley (playing the gym teacher Miss Collins) who ended up making her name in Eight is Enough and stage productions, actually was just a few years older than most of the cast. Amy Irving (playing Sue Snell) became Mrs. Steven Spielberg and was nominated for an Academy Award for Yentl, and Norma Watson (played by P. J. Soles) took her baseball cap and pigtail look to Halloween. One of the blink and you’ll-miss-them actors is Edie McClurg as Helen Shyres who went onto fame as the secretary from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…and who can forget the future Greatest American Hero’s William Katt’s glorious blond afro.
The visuals of the film are classic, but dated…which seems a bit intentional. The movie has a real ’70s from the styles to the soft focus to the editing. It comes off as stylish and fun. I love the prom scene complete with red lighting, spinning cameras, and then harsh side-by-side edits once the massacre begins.
Despite all these actors, the real acting is the dynamic between Sissy and Piper. The movie wouldn’t work if they didn’t kill the scenes they are in together. It is over-the-top, quotable, and just fun. See Carrie…don’t see the 2002 remake or the sequel Carrie 2: The Rage. Stick with the classic. If you must, see the 2013 version just as a way to compare and contrast changes to the story…but this version is still the definite Carrie.