It’s Wednesday, so it must be time for another edition of Late to the Party!
Today’s movie is the original 1976 version of Carrie, adapted from the Stephen King book of the same name. While it’s been long enough that everyone knows the story, seeing it is something else. It’s directed by Brian De Palma (The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible), and stars Sissy Spacek (JFK, An American Haunting) and John Travolta (Grease, Battlefield Earth).
It opens with Carrie getting her period for the first time in the girl’s locker room shower, which begins the next level of her torment as it’s pretty clear she was likely teased well before this. From there we meet her religious fanatic of a mother who locks Carrie in a kitchen closet for the crime of having a period.
The girls that ruthlessly mocked Cassie in the locker room shower have their own punishment, a week’s worth of detention that they must serve or lose their chance to go to Prom. Of course, some of them take offense at that and insist that Carrie has to pay yet again.
One of the track stars asks her to prom, not knowing the part he’s about to play in this scheme. Meanwhile, Carrie is discovering she’s capable of ‘miracles’, in the form of telekinesis. The pivotal night then comes and we’re just waiting for what we know is coming.
Carrie and her date are ‘chosen’ as the Prom King and Queen, setting her up on the stage for the dumping of the pig’s blood the lead girl and her boyfriend had set up. Covered in red, and in spite of the people who are appalled at what happened, Carrie only sees people laughing at her and lets her powers loose, locking the doors, and starting a fire. Then she calmly walks out, leaving the building to burn.
Her night isn’t finished there, as her mother saw Carrie’s power and has decided the girl has to die. She stabs her own daughter in the back and chases her downstairs where Carrie kills her mother in self defense.
It’s all too much for the young girl and her powers go berserk, pulling the entire house down on top of them and into the ground, killing them both.
Many films don’t stand the test of time, but the original Carrie stands up very well.
The outfits and hair might be dated, but the cinematography is excellent, making you unsettled even as it shows mostly mundane settings. (And, oh boy, is there a lot of slapping in this movie.)
What gives this film its legs are the themes of bullying and religious fanaticism, which are possibly even more relevant today than back when the film was made. It wasn’t the first movie about either theme, but its focus on them as the bones of the story are easily relatable.