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Carrie (1976)

Directed by Brian De Palma Novel by Stephen King Screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen

  This was the film that started it all; the first of King’s novels to become adapted and the success that came along with, carried on for much of the next 30 years. Can you imagine? In less than six months we will see this movie released, again and be forced to either gripe silently to ourselves (for some out loud) or choose not to look at all. It’s one thing to like those involved in the process, quite another to think it can be done any better than originally portrayed. While at Texas Frightmare this year, while viewing the Carrie panel, the woman had been asked if offered a cameo in the new film if they would go ahead. Of which Nancy Allen, who played Chris (the bully) was quite adamant about seeing no point in remakes so couldn’t even entertain the question. No one could replicate what either Sissy or Piper did and I must say, I agree wholeheartedly.

10 Second Premise: Carrie White is an outcast whose unknown telekinetic powers are about to emerge full force when a group of girls go too far while at Prom. (Yea, that pretty much sums it up) But don’t let that fool you. It’s in the performances and the way the film was shot that you’ll fall for.

  5.The Era: Sure, some people may look at movies from “back in the day” and complain that the music/styles/sayings…everything, is too outdated. “How can I, like, relate to this when like, I don’t even understand this.” -__- If that is the case then please, leave! Turn back now before you stink up the place with your bad taste. A truly great film never goes out of style and it doesn’t matter which year it was released. If anything I think it adds a little more to the film. Taunting around school grounds now would be met with Facebook pages to stop bullying and letting everyone know that “they’re not alone.” This girl had been outcast from her entire school; even the principal didn’t care enough to get her name right. The one that did try to stand up for her ended up punished like the rest of them but they were all to blame. I loved the big hair, their clothes, all of it. The woman in them (for the most part) also had a elegance about themselves. It’s not as though they were any more innocent then they are today, they weren’t. But just the same, wasn’t required for them to wear any less clothes or try and show off how much bigger their implants are then the other in order to stand out.

  4. “Brian De Palma at last has his Psycho!”: That quote was actually put on Brian De Palma’s released DVD of Raising Cain, as quoted by People Magizine. My reason for using it now being that I had always assumed Carrie was his Psycho…no pun intented. Besides the obvious name of Bates for the town and the four note violin used repeatedly throughout. Raising Cain is s fantastic film but it felt more as a homage to Hitchcockian themes as a whole then to claim it was anymore connected than this film can be seen. Psycho looked at Bates life after his mother had already passed. While we can surly only assume what she was like, the portrayal of Mrs. White would be rather close if not swinging in the same ballpark. Instead of killing with a knife in drag, it was telekinesis. Without discussing the other film too much, one of Carter’s personalities was not his father; he stole the babies so Cain (another alter) could ensure what his father wanted. His personalities were forced upon him in order to experiment and not because of his wife’s deceiving ways; it just didn’t help after the fact. Carrie was a troubled girl due to her mother much like with whatever happened with Norman that spawned a jealously of his mother; we just don’t see the damage being done when we find him. Despite Carrie getting those brief moments of knowing what being popular felt like it was ripped from her just as instantly and before she could go to her mother to share of how she was right was turned on for the final time. Each had been forced into a life of solitude and was left with nothing at the end, overrun by their mothers who had succeeded in keeping their child as outcast from the world. If Carrie had survived, I can’t say I would see her roaming about on an everyday norm but rather, a life that involved interaction with little people as the character in Psycho came to be.

  3. The Color Red: What the color may mean to me could very well possibly mean the opposite for you. The beauty of the word, any word, is that there will always be the possibility of more than just one explanation. Pain, anger, embarrassment, danger are all examples of the effectiveness used throughout with the color. When you take another look at the film keep in mind any red you may see throughout, it’s everywhere. It was donned on all the girls clothes including Norma’s hat, Helen’s bag, even put into the smallest details. After the blood falls at Prom, the screen is overcome with the color until she takes her first victims. It was the color of the Hammer that Billy (John Travolta) used to kill the pig and the candles throughout Carrie’s house. I won’t speak too much of what it means to myself. *I had a teacher in High School that showed us a film and how they used color in films and it has stuck ever since* I’m sure it may, or may not, mean something to how you choose to view the film. If it is the case, then should be determined for yourself and not be what someone may try to feed you. Certainly something that cannot go unnoticed however, adding if anything to the aura of Carrie’s world and how the color haunts her from start to finish.

  2. Piper Laurie: Laurie had been away from films 15 years before taking this role. She stated having taken the time off to focus on being a mother, sculptor and a wife. Upon first receiving the script, wasn’t fond of it but was asked to read it again by her agent. The second time around having been fascinated by it, thinking it to be a satire of a horror. Despite all that however was able to give movie goers a performance that was nothing short of pure talent. Because of the “close” relationship between mother and daughter needing to be captured, she filmed separately with Sissy. Not meeting the other actresses up until a couple years back. Her role being just as crucial as the titled character. Carrie’s unfamiliarity and distress towards life was due to her mother. We first see Margaret White patrolling the neighborhood so to spread the gospel. “These are Godless times.” Brushed off and returning home to receive a call about her daughter having started her period.

  Her lines may come off humorous, I often hear people stating that about the film. But I found the conviction behind how her lines were delivered a bit frightening. When sitting down for dinner and hearing asking to go to the dance, grants a response of having a glass of water thrown on her. It seemed Margaret had an effortless way about punishing her daughter that was daunting at times. The final speech by Mrs. White concerning Carrie father and life prior; a great speech given by Laurie. The story that stuck most with the Carrie panel being when Piper spoke about filming that particular scene. She talked about kneeling and going to where she needed in order to perform. “Action.” Gives speech and once done and looking at Brian, with tears in his eyes he says “You know Piper, that was great, but I need you to do one more take;” never telling her which shot he used.

  1. Sissy Spacek: Originally meant to play the role of Chris, Sissy impressed at the audition of “looking the part already,” and helped maintain the attitude around set by letting the other actors know she wouldn’t be hanging out with them between takes. Filling her dressing room with religious books and classical music, staying in character the remainder of time. When working on the Prom scenes, Nancy Allen and P.J. Soles both stated how Sissy would go back to her trailer and sleep with the blood still on. She had an immense innocence about herself that was realized within the first scene. After missing the ball, Norma whacks her on the head while they blame her repeated for what feels like simply existing. To see her go home and be outcast from her mother for being a sinner, locking her in a tiny room inside the kitchen. Purposely set in the center of the house to show it being the core and its importance. The person displayed in her room was St. Sebastian but with the hair around him, a bit of Carrie’s mother as well.  When the time came to stand up to her mother, she rose to the occasion and did so in a matter where she was fighting for her sanity as much as her freedom. Her classmates and mother getting the best of her after all…but we all know how that ends up. For the final shot it was actually Spacek’s hand that pops out of the ground. Making the argument of not many people knowing what it felt like to be buried alive and knowing she’d be fine after.

  There were still, so many of the “little things” that help make the film hold as strong as it does today. A week before shooting began Brian had all the high school kids get together and do activities such as picking a class president and other exercises to help the group bond (without Sissy naturally). However Nancy Allen stating having felt a certain animosity towards herself and having moments of feeling like the left one out for being the bully. This was John Travolta’s first movie though was primarily used as Chris’ play thing to help execute her plans. The split screen shots De Palma is known for were plenty around having worked the Prom scene with more originally, but changing it ultimately in that it didn’t work as thought. They mostly occur between Carrie and one other actor throughout. The door to Carrie’s closet had been turned upside to get the image of the cross. Soles had shown up to auditions with her red hat as seen in the film and De Palma told her to bring it on set and on the first day when seeing her without said that she wasn’t to be without her hat. It’s was Norma’s favorite and she wouldn’t be seen without it, even for the Prom. This being a film you certainly have to see for yourselves. It’s ability to transfix my gaze to nothing else once on, never surprises me. It’s beautifully written and directed (same writer who helped with Stephen King’s It) and the two actresses were able to create a terror all their own and become part of something wonderful. Couldn’t you just…remake the movies that sucked the first time they were released instead?