Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1976), directed by Brian De Palma.


"I'm goin', Momma. And I don't want to talk about it anymore." -- Carrie White

The quintessential high school horror film, concise and well done. It's all here: the malevolence of classmates, the embarrassment of a crazy parent and agony of being the class goat, the beginnings of self-assertion and rebellion. All kids try to figure things out during this time, but poor Carrie also has to deal with traumatic menstruation and uncontrolled psychokinetic powers.

Amid the pain there is a brief vision of high school Paradise: the perfect Prom, where everyone is happy and friendly, no more ill will or jealousy, with lust kept safely contained by social dancing. It doesn't last.

Sissy Spacek gives a wonderful performance. Her exotic looks help: she can be pretty but also weird looking.

Many early appearances by future stars. Amy Irving was always a favorite from that period and Nancy Allen is deliciously evil. The spitefulness of school girls transcends understanding.

About the naked locker room scene: thank you, ladies, for your commitment to your craft.

I see now that the bizarre little statue in the "prayer closet" is not Jesus, but something more like St Sebastian (last seen in I Walked with a Zombie (1943)), shot with arrows. It gives the director an image to replicate in Margaret's death by kitchen implements.

Those mid-70s bushy haircuts and ruffled prom tuxedos: ouch.

I vaguely remember Stephen King's book: Carrie burns down the whole town and even people who have never heard of her understand "It's Carrie White. She's out." That would have been a nice touch: a spooky linkage. Some at the prom do have intimations of what's happening before they die. Spacek does the audiobook reading for Recorded Books.

Available on Blu-ray. The image is often soft, but I don't remember how much of this comes from the film. Some shots seem purposefully hazy. Now and then an outdoor scene shows good hidef detail; I don't know where that comes from. My thumbnails are from the original very poor 4:3 letterboxed DVD; I never saw the anamorphic edition.