Movie Reviews 79 – Carrie (1976)

CarrieI confess that I stayed away from this movie when it hit theaters back in ‘76 despite a bunch of friends saying it was great. I put that down to my then growing distaste for John ‘Vinnie Barbarino’ Travolta who seemed to be everywhere at the time. Instead, I opted for just reading Stephen King’s original novel which I thought was fine, but not notably remarkable.

So I was in for quite a surprise many years later when I saw the movie and realized that I should not have been put off by a minor role, and one that I learned wasn’t even that bad after all.

Sissy Spacek plays Carrie, the quiet, reserved and somewhat socially naive daughter of a religious zealot single mother (Piper Laurie), whose distrust of men is only overshadowed by her biblical fanaticism. Already shunned at school, Carrie’s fortunes are put on a path of literal destruction when some of the social elite girls get into trouble for chastising her. While one of the girls (Amy Irving) feels genuinely sorry and even puts a plan in action that would see her own boyfriend (Greatest American Hero: William Katt) take Carrie to the school prom, the queen bitch (Nancy Allen) plans her own revenge for a spectacular and bloody prom night prank.

But Carrie has a secret of her own that will come into play on prom night. Her telekinetic abilities, another reason she is castigated by her own mom, are usually kept under control but she unleashes those powers upon the entire prom attendees moments after the prank is sprung on her. The culmination of hopes and dreams in that one special moment at the prom are shattered by an act of hatred, Carrie being the center of it all.

The lead up to the climactic moment is just perfect with all smiles and happiness for that perfect prom moment, only to be torn back to reality. Director Brian DePalma effectively captures the moment by slowing down the motion so that we can absorb the melee from every character’s perspective.

Rife with religious symbolism, the movie is a treat to behold. Other things to be appreciated is a great score by Pino Donnagio, and the final moments of the movie.

On a final note, there is a remake in the works that should be out sometime next year. Trying not to be negative or anything, but I doubt it will live up to this original.

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