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A movie directed by Brian De Palma

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Great Stephen King adaptation.

  • Oct 31, 2011
**** out of ****

If there is something more to thank Stephen King for other than his brilliant horror novels, it would be the often equally as brilliant films that they inspire. Quite a few of King's novels have been turned into movies; and I'm sure he's not all that enthusiastic regarding at least half of them. Few truly gifted authors even are; controversially, King dislikes "The Shining" with a passion; and think of it, today, that's regarded as another fine Kubrick masterpiece, a landmark for its genre, and one of the best Stephen King adaptations (not in faithfulness, but in quality) to date. I too believe such things, and there is no way of getting King to agree with the popular opinion, but I am told that the cynical bastard has a soft spot for a couple of the films that were based off of his original works, and "Carrie" is one of few.

I too think it's one of the best Stephen King adaptations of all time; and the great author himself gets full credit for the smooth transition that this story makes from page to camera. With perfect direction from the admirable Brian De Palma; that man of considerable talent, the story is able to remain effective, thought-provoking, and involving. Actually, it makes for what is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the best horror films ever made. It's a classic by most standards; and it should rightfully be. It's odd and quirky, with more than its share of peculiarities, even for its genre. It isn't just a simple, tasteless, vile concoction of drama, romance, horror, and even comedy; it's a truly inventive picture.

Some of the best horror movies don't start as horror movies; they are deceptive and therefore smart. They don't start off with a kill scene to let us know that we should be thoroughly frightened; they wait, they wait, and they wait; until the audience themselves loses all patience. I liked "Carrie" because it presents an identifiable, sympathetic portrayal of a young girl stuck in a typical High School world; filled to the top with cruel, unappreciative, misunderstanding peers, unfair teachers, and adults that are all-together equally as ignorant. In this case, the girl is Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), and the students are a good number of people not worth mentioning, and the same goes for the teachers...and a good number of the other adults. One adult figure that I should mention, however, would be Carrie's psycho-religious-freak mother (Piper Laurie), who could care less about her child's happiness. I mean, hey; as long as she's obeying the path that the Lord has set before us all, right?

The High School Prom draws near. Carrie does not intend on going; just as she hasn't for a few good years now. We get the idea that due to her low stature in the social food chain, she doesn't attend many dances or social gatherings amongst her peers. She is lonely, desperate (in some cases), curious about her possible peculiarities, and sympathetic all-the-same.

I suppose the horror bit comes in early on in the story; but alas, in smaller doses than one would expect. I think that most who know of the film will know it as "that film about that girl who has psychic powers". They would be right; Carrie does indeed have telekinesis, although nobody knows where she got it from, and this is where the story draws a lot of its general "horror" from. However, as with most great horror films, the scares have aged; but the atmosphere - oh sweet, sweet atmosphere - is completely incapable of doing the same. Carrie possesses powers that will allow her to simply stare at something - if only for a second - and compel it to move. I wouldn't say this is absolutely frightening, but in a sense, I guess it doesn't need to be. Something that you can't understand, but that you can still control, can still be scary conceptually, can't it? It's much scarier than most things conjured up from unimaginative minds these days, that's for sure. So "Carrie", for all its oddities and what could today be perceived as silliness, is a strong-minded film with good intentions and a bloody good grand finale to spare. You might already know how the film ends, but hey, should that mean that the entire film has been ruined for you? I don't think so.

Psychedelic colors induced by lightening at the dinner table. A surrealistic ending sequence at the High School Prom. A prank gone wrong. There are images, situations, and many other things as well that shall be remembered of "Carrie" once the viewer has finished watching it in its entirety. It doesn't have the most consistent album of pure imagery, but it does have its share, and that's good enough for me. What it does have, however, is depth; a well-told story of High School life and the emotions that disturb an already unsteady young girl who unwillingly attends. In fact, as far as horror films go, this one puts a whole lot of effort into actually telling a story; while other films, especially of its time, would rather focus merely on what we see and what we hear rather than what we actually look into and think most about.

Spacek is great as the titular character; and even John Travolta makes his debut appearance as one of the provokers of Carrie's wrath. There's something spellbinding about how Spacek draws you into the film with her performance; she really makes this material work. A lot of the great films that I've seen - and boy, believe me when I say, there are many - contain within them performances and attached directors who, when removed from the product, would have taken away essential ingredients. De Palma, as the director, is able to create intrigue, atmosphere, and his signature voyeuristic qualities; even in a film such as this one. It was good material for him; and no remake or re-imagining could ever do it any better. He sees "Carrie", as a story, as we should; stuff that we can gladly relate to, even if some of the memories that we look back on for emotional inspiration are painful. "Carrie" is an appropriately painful movie. But it's also a master of psychological horror; and it scares as much as it engages. I would specifically recommend it to those many film buffs who enjoy a good old 70's/80's-style genre romp; complete with plenty of "cheese" and some surprisingly genuine horror. I love "Carrie", I always will, and in spite of those possibly intentional campy moments, it's a perfect example of what happens when a storyteller (King) recalls the times and writes them down to observe. We, the watchers and the readers, are voyeurs. But perhaps we are less dangerous than some.

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More Carrie reviews
review by . July 14, 2010
The film version of Stephen King's classic horror novel, "Carrie," is beautiful in its humanization of the character and the way in which Sissy Spacek portrays the innocence of a young girl combined with the ability to kill people in large quantities.   However, it strays from the book in a few unfortunate ways.  The viewer misses the back-story of Carrie's mother while the reader discovers that she was essentially raped and Carrie is the child of that event.  …
review by . March 02, 2009
Carrie Special Edition DVD
Stephen King's first novel that was adapted into film version is quite true to the author's words. While Stephen King was less than pleased with Stanley Kubrick's film version of his malevolent masterpiece, "The Shining", King was quite happy with Brian De Palma's direction and his vision with "Carrie" and with Sissy Spacek in her debut role as the freakish, shy and telekinetic Carrie White. Incidentally, little Sissy beat out Melanie Griffith and Carrie Fisher for the title role that launched …
review by . July 30, 2009
Carrie was Stephen King's first published novel (under his own name) and it would be the first in a long line of book-to-film adaptations. As long as Mr. King continues to right, someone will always try to adapt his novels or stories for either the silver or small screen. This film not only made King's career but it launched a plethora of knock-offs. While Brian De Palma can re-live the glory of making this over-hyped adaptation, it made stars out of "teen" actors Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, …
review by . June 14, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
CARRIE, Brian DePalma's masterpiece of horror, gets its well-deserved treatment in this new Special Edition DVD containing several featurettes as well as trailers and text screens.Young Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a loner. She has no friends, and lives a life of fear and repression. Her Bible-thumping momma (Piper Laurie) also chooses to reject and abuse her. However, her pent-up anxiety causes her to get a form of telekineses, that lets her move things. At first she is frightened of this all-new …
review by . January 24, 2002
Pros: You'd be surprised what you can learn from a 'horror' movie     Cons: bloody and over the top, but needed     The Bottom Line: Hey, is that a Carrie standing next to you? Reach out and say HI     The Oracle says: Piper Laurie has a Bacon number of 2.    Piper Laurie was in Rich in Love (1992) with Kathryn Erbe    Kathryn Erbe was in Stir of Echoes (1999) with Kevin Bacon ***      Congratulations …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Brian De Palma's commercial breakout, based on a novel by Stephen King that helped launch a whole slew of teen-based horror films.

Followed by the sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 and television remake.

Priscilla Pointer and Amy Irving are mother and daughter in real life.

Based upon Stephen King's first published novel.

Soundtrack was composed by Pino Donaggio.

The film was made into a Broadway musical that closed after 5 performances.

This terrifying adaptation of Stephen King's bestselling horror novel was directed by shock maestro Brian De Palma for maximum, no-holds-barred effect. Sissy Spacek stars as Carrie White, the beleaguered daughter of a religious kook (Piper Laurie) and a social outcast tormented by her cruel, insensitive classmates. When her rage turns into telekinetic powers, however, school's out in every sense of the word. De Palma's horrific climax in a school gym lingers forever in the memory, though the film is also built upon Spacek's remarkable performance and Piper Laurie's outlandishly creepy one. John Travolta has a small part as a thug, De Palma's future wife, Nancy Allen, is his girlfriend, and Amy Irving makes her screen debut as one of the girls giving Carrie a hard time.--Tom Keogh
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Director: Brian De Palma
Genre: Horror
Release Date: November 3, 1976
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: August 28, 2001
Runtime: 98 minutes
Studio: United Artists
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