Carrie (1976) A-
Brian De Palma's terrifyingly Gothic thriller, Carrie, based on Stephen King's novel, is at once lyrical and trashy, a nasty revenge story with a Cinderella-like heroine.
The eponymous heroine (Sissy Spacek in the movie that catapulted her to stardom) is on one level a stock character, a misfit who comes of age and discovers her sexuality under the most terrifying conditions.
An early scene shows the totally unprepared Carrie experiencing her first menstruation at the gym; her friends react as if she were a freak. “Help me,” she screams in desperation, but her friends laugh, and it takes her teacher to pull her out of hysterics. Fatherless, Carrie lives with her crazed, fanatically religious, mother (Piper Laurie), who perceives herself as a virgin damaged by sex. Shy and sexually inhibited, Carrie's main desire is to gain acceptance by her peers; she is unloved at home and ridiculed at school.
The second part of the narrative turns into a slash horror film, another revenge story, thus fitting into the decade's dominant theme of vengeance. Carrie's telekinetic powers are used against her classmates and mother. In her retaliation, kitchen knives whiz through space, piercing her mother's body until she looks like a crucified saint.
De Palma's first commercial hit, after a couple of small indies (“Hi Mom”) starring the young Robert De Niro, is still one of his best pictures. And the shocking ending, which has been imitated by many directors, is still thrilling to behold.
Actress: Sissy Spacek
Supporting Actress: Piper Laurie
Oscar Awards: None
In 1976, the winner of the Best Actress Oscar was Faye Dunaway for “Network,” which also honored Supporting Actress Beatrice Straight.
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek)
Margaret White (Piper Laurie)
Sue Snell (Amy Irving)
Tommy Ross (William Katt)
Billy Nolan (John Travolta)
Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen)
Miss Collins (Betty Buckley)
Norma Watson (P.J. Soles)
Mr. Fromm (Sydney Lassick)
Principal Morton (Stefan Gierasch)
Produced by Paul Monash.
Directed by Brian De Palma.
Screenplay: Larry Cohen, based on the novel by Stephen King.
Camera: Mario Tosi.
Editing: Paul Hirsch.
Music: Pino Donaggio.
Art direction: William Kenny, Jack Fisk.
Costume design: Rosanna Norton.
F/X: Greg Auer, Ken Pepiot.
related article 1: Movie Endings: Good, Bad and Ambiguous–Carrie.
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