"It has nothing to do with Satan, Mama. It's me. Me. If I concentrate hard enough, I can move things." - Carrie White
Well, this is where it all started for me as far as being a fan of Stephen King’s works. The first film I saw based on his work (his first published novel) which became the first novel of his that I read.
I remember it well, it was a Saturday night which meant that just about the only date option in my home town was the Palladium cinema. You didn’t take girls to our other cinema, the Town Hall in 1977 - that was a B-movie flea pit. The Palladium showed all the big films, and was a far nicer place in the old "movie palace" tradition. It’s a tragic shame it was closed down in 1978.
So, there I was, clueless about the film we were going to see (not that the film really mattered on a Saturday night when I was seventeen but passed for eighteen when it came to horror movies) and the film opens with a high school volley ball game in which one girl plainly sucks. Hey, I could relate. I sucked at sports in school. I was always the last to be picked for teams and recall very clearly being the remaining one while the teams argued over who had to take me THIS time. "It’s not fair, we had him last time".
Teams would actually prefer to hit the field one player short than have me with them - even if it meant the other team technically had 12 players. Meh - sports. It’s not for everybody. I knew back then that I was destined for greater things like movies, magazines and websites.
But I digress - the sports field suckage sets the scene that Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is the loner, the outsider with no real friends. Never in synch with the "in" crowd. The titles were shown over a slo-mo wander through the girls changing room which won me zero kudos points with my date. Bad enough I was taking her to see a horror movie, but one that started with full frontal nudity and a girl getting her first menstrual cycle? My remark at the time that it must be a period movie merely seemed to push the whole relationship further on the rocks.
I was amazed at seventeen that they could even show...er....that...in a film. Anyhow, it all serves to further show the contempt and disdain that her peers have for Carrie White. In her distress she begs and pleads for help because she doesn’t know what’s happening to her and figures she’s bleeding to death.
Rescued from a hail of sanitary towls thrown by her classmates by a sympathetic sports teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) she’s allowed to go home for the rest of the day, but is starting to display an unusual talent. In the shower, she shatters the lights, in the principal’s office she flips over an ashtray and as a mean little kid calls her "Creepy Carrie" on her way home from school, she sends him toppling off his bicycle. All with the power of her mind.
Home isn’t much of a sanctuary in Carrie’s life. Her mother Margaret White (Piper Laurie) is a religious fruit loop. One of those who goes preaching door to door, imposing herself and her belief among her neighbours. She’s a puritan fundamentalist (with the emphasis on "mental") who lives without electricity because every modern day convenience is basically sinful and should be avoided. When poor Carrie asks her mother why she wasn’t told about what was happening to her body, she’s slapped and dragged to a dark cupboard to pray for salvation because she’s sinful. The cupboard is a scarey damn place with a model of Jesus with glow in the dark eyes dominating everything else.
The girls who’ve tormented Carrie all have detention. Detention being Miss Collins’ version of boot camp. The girls include Hargenson (Nancy Allen) Norma (P.J Soles who would practically play the same role a year or so later in Halloween) and Sue Snell (Amy Irving). Hargenson defies the detention and is refused her prom ticket as a further punishment. Sue decides that she needs to make some kind of amends with Carrie and persuades her prom date Tommy Ross (William Katt) to ask Carrie instead. Incurring the righteous wrath of her mother and openly defying her, Carrie reluctantly accepts. Now this is done with the best of intentions. Sue doesn’t know that Hargensen is plotting the ultimate humiliating prank on the back of Sue’s friendly gesture.
Eliciting the help of her easily led boyfriend ( a ridiculously young and pre "a-lister" status John Travolta) she sets Carrie up so that Carrie can enjoy a brief moment in the spotlight with Tommy as queen of the prom with all her peers applauding, admiring and accepting her finally, before Hargensen pulls on a rope tipping a bucket filled with pig’s blood which dowses Carrie from head to toe. Instantly reverting to their group mentality, the kids point, laugh and jeer - with the exception of Tommy who can plainly be seen (but not heard) saying "what the hell?"
And hell is literally what Carrie unleashes, destroying her tormentors and going on a telekinetic rampage as she goes home to a mother who’s plotting to murder her as a witch.
In the final confrontation, having been ambushed by the crazed matriarch and stabbed, Carrie practically crucifies Margaret with kitchen knives before bringing the house down burying both of them.
In a dream sequence, Sue sees herself walking to the cleared site of Carrie’s house, kneeling and laying a bunch of flowers down as Carrie’s bloody hand rises and grabs her wrist.
But, you know what?
I never saw that sequence the first time, because my stupid date had to catch the last stupid bus home and in order to get her to the bus stop, I had to leave as soon as Carrie demolished the house. I didn’t even KNOW there was a whole other sequence until I saw the film on TV a few years later and I jumped out of my chair because I wasn’t expecting it. (Jeez, so many ways I just didn’t get lucky that night.)
Carrie is one of the films that has always struck me as having just absolutely the perfect cast. There’s not a wrong move or a missed beat in the whole film, it’s just perfect. Sissy Spacek could not have been improved upon to play the ugly duckling/dowdy outsider who transforms into being the belle of the prom. As Carrie has been remade, I’m really curious to see how Chloe Grace Moretz tackles the role.
Okay guys - want to see the original for yourselves? Click this helpful little link.
Next time, prepare yourselves - because we all float down here.
Copyright © 2010 - 2013 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.