Carrie (1976 film)
Original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brian De Palma|
|Produced by||Paul Monash|
|Screenplay by||Lawrence D. Cohen|
by Stephen King
|Music by||Pino Donaggio|
|Editing by||Paul Hirsch|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||November 3, 1976|
|Running time||98 minutes|
|Box office||$33.8 million|
Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the novel Carrie by Stephen King. The film stars Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, William Katt, John Travolta, P. J. Soles and Priscilla Pointer. It is the story of a socially outcast teenage girl named Carrie White who discovers she possesses latent psionic power which seems to flare up when she becomes angry or otherwise distressed. Carrie's powers become apparent after her humiliation by her peers, teachers, and abusive mother, eventually resulting in tragedy. Carrie was the first of numerous King novels to be adapted for film and television. It introduced young stars such as Spacek, Katt, and Travolta – who would shoot to worldwide fame – and revamped the career of Laurie, who had already made several films.
The film was a major success for United Artists, grossing $33.8 million at the U.S. box office, on a budget of $1.8 million. It received a mostly positive response from critics. The film spawned a sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2, and a made for television film, released in 2002, neither of which involved De Palma. During a survey taken in October 2008, it was revealed that Carrie was considered one of the most popular movies teens watched on Halloween.
Carrie White is a shy, friendless teenage girl abused by her unstable Christian fundamentalist mother Margaret. The girls at Bates High School also harass Carrie, with Chris Hargensen being especially cruel.
Carrie experiences her first period while showering after gym class, and, because of her sheltered life, becomes hysterical, thinking she is dying. Chris and another popular girl, Sue Snell notice Carrie's horror. Rather than help, they and the other girls throw tampons and sanitary pads at her before Miss Collins intervenes. As Carrie becomes more frantic, a light bulb bursts just before Miss Collins makes the other girls leave. Miss Collins brings Carrie to Principal Morton's office. While consoling her, Principal Morton repeatedly calls Carrie "Cassie", unintentionally emphasizing how overlooked she is. When Carrie corrects the principal, an ashtray from the principal's desk flips onto the floor and smashes. While Carrie is walking home, a neighborhood boy falls off his bicycle immediately after taunting her. Margaret pays a visit to Mrs. Snell's house about Christianity but Mrs. Snell instead gives her $10 as a contribution to get rid of her.
Margaret receives a call from Miss Collins about the locker room incident and tells Carrie that the "curse of blood" is punishment for sin. She locks Carrie in a closet and forces her to pray. That night, a miserable Carrie stares at her bedroom mirror until it shatters.
The next day, English teacher Mr. Fromm reads a poem to the class written by Sue's athletic boyfriend Tommy Ross. Fromm invites the class to critique Tommy's work, but mocks Carrie when she calls it "beautiful", which irks Tommy, who defends Carrie. Sue, feeling guilty for teasing Carrie, convinces Tommy to take Carrie to the prom.
Miss Collins berates the girls in the gym who tormented Carrie, subjecting them to a week-long boot-camp-style detention, threatening them with suspension from school and the prom if they do not attend. All the girls show remorse except for Chris, who throws a fit at Miss Collins and is banned from the prom.
Carrie suspects she may have telekinesis, and researches it in the library. Tommy asks Carrie to the prom, but she fears another trick. After a pep talk from Miss Collins, Tommy pays a visits to Carrie's house and keeps asking her to the prom; she then accepts Tommy's invitation.
Carrie tells her mother she is going to the prom, and Margaret declares the prom an occasion of sin, refusing to let her attend. However, Carrie causes the windows of the house to slam shut, revealing her telekinesis. Margaret believes this is Satan's power, but Carrie refuses to listen and insists she will go to the prom.
Chris tells her delinquent boyfriend, Billy Nolan, that she wants revenge on Carrie. She goes with Billy and other kids to a farm, where Billy kills a pig. After draining the pig's blood into a bucket, Chris has Billy place the bucket above the school's stage.
Chris makes a deal with her friend, Norma Watson, and Billy's friend, Freddy, to rig the prom king and queen election so that Tommy and Carrie will win. As Carrie prepares for the evening, her mother tells her everyone will laugh at her. Carrie's mother reluctantly lets her go and Carrie leaves with Tommy. Though her classmates are surprised to see Carrie at the prom, they treat her as an equal. Sue, who was unable to attend due to lacking a date, sneaks into the prom to ensure everything goes well for Carrie.
To Carrie's surprise, she and Tommy are named prom king and queen. As the couple approaches the stage, Sue discovers Chris holding a rope attached to the bucket of pig's blood. Miss Collins forces Sue out, believing she is there for mischief. As the crown is placed on Carrie's head, Chris pulls the rope and Carrie is drenched in pig's blood. As the crowd looks on in silence, Tommy is knocked unconscious by the bucket and Carrie sees the whole room laughing and jeering at her, when it is implied that only a few of Chris's friends are actually doing so. Carrie's telekinesis takes over, closing the doors to the gym and turning on a fire hose. Chris and Billy's friends are knocked out by the fire hose along with Norma and many other people, and Miss Collins is crushed to death by a falling ceiling rafter. Principal Morton and Mr. Fromm are electrocuted, which causes a fire in the gym. Leaving her classmates inside the school as it burns, Carrie walks home covered in blood. Chris and Billy intend to run her over with Billy's car, but Carrie flips the car over, causing it to burst into flames, and kills them both.
At home, Carrie takes a bath to wash off the pigs blood, and puts on her nightgown. She then breaks down in her mother's arms. However, by this time Margaret has gone completely mad; believing the devil has taken over Carrie, Margaret brings her to her knees and stabs Carrie in the back. Carrie falls down the stairs and is cornered in the kitchen by her mother, but sends kitchen knives flying at her mother, killing her and having her body shaped in the form of the Saint Sebastian figurine in the "prayer closet". Overcome with guilt and grief, Carrie uses her last ounce of strength to collapse the house upon her and her mother and the house burns down to the ground.
Some time later, Sue, the only survivor of the prom, visits the plot where Carrie's house stood. As she places flowers on the ground, a bloody hand grabs Sue's wrist. The movie ends with Sue waking up, screaming, in her mother's arms.
- Sissy Spacek as Carrie White
- Piper Laurie as Margaret White
- Amy Irving as Sue Snell
- William Katt as Tommy Ross
- John Travolta as Billy Nolan
- Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen
- Betty Buckley as Miss Collins
- P. J. Soles as Norma Watson
- Priscilla Pointer as Mrs. Snell
- Sydney Lassick as Mr. Fromm
- Stefan Gierasch as Mr. Morton
- Michael Talbott as Freddie DeLois
- Rory Stevens as Kenny Garson
- Doug Cox as The Beak
- Harry Gold as George Dawson
- Edie McClurg as Helen Shyres
Carrie was the first Stephen King novel to be published and the first to be adapted into a feature film. In an interview in Port Charlotte, Florida at a public appearance near his home on the Gulf coast on March 20, 2010, King said he was 26 years old at the time and was paid just $2,500 for the film rights, but added "I was fortunate to have that happen to my first book." De Palma told Cinefantastique magazine in an interview in 1977:
|“||I read the book. It was suggested to me by a writer friend of mine. A writer friend of his, Stephen King, had written it. I guess this was almost two years ago [circa 1975]. I liked it a lot and proceeded to call my agent to find out who owned it. I found out that nobody had bought it yet. A lot of studios were considering it, so I called around to some of the people I knew and said it was a terrific book and I'm very interested in doing it. Then nothing happened for, I guess, six months.||”|
Lawrence D. Cohen was hired as the writer, and produced the first draft, which had closely followed the novel's intentions. However, later versions departed from King's vision rapidly, and certain scripted scenes were omitted from the final version, mainly due to financial limitations.
The final scene, in which Sue reaches toward Carrie's grave, was shot backwards to give it a dreamlike quality. It was also filmed at night, using artificial lighting to create the desired effect. This scene was inspired by the final scene in Deliverance (1972). Spacek had insisted on using her own hand in the given scene, so she was positioned under the rocks and gravel. DePalma stated 'Sissy, come on, I'll get a stunt person. What do you want? To be buried in the ground?!' However Spacek declared 'Brian, I have to do this.' DePalma explains that they "had to bury her. Bury her! We had to put her in a box and stick her underneath the ground. Well, I had her husband bury her because I certainly didn't want to bury her. I used to walk around and set up the shot and every once in a while we'd hear Sissy: 'Are we ready yet?' 'Yeah, Sissy, we're going to be ready real soon."
The White house was filmed in Santa Paula, California and to give the home a Gothic theme, director and producers went to religious shops looking for artifacts to place in the home.
The site of one of the locations where Carrie was filmed, Palisades Charter High School ("Pali High"), was owned by Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher - parents of Carrie Fisher - years before the school was built. Some years after the couple had purchased the lot, the State acquired the land by eminent domain (compulsory purchase) to build the school.
Many young actresses auditioned for the lead role, including Melanie Griffith. Sissy Spacek was persuaded by husband Jack Fisk to audition for the title role. Fisk then convinced De Palma to let her audition, and she read for all of the parts. De Palma's first choice for the role of Carrie was Betsy Slade, who received good notices for her role in the 1974 film Our Time. Determined to land the leading role, Spacek backed out of a television commercial she was scheduled to film, rubbed Vaseline into her hair, didn't bother to wash her face, and arrived for her screen test clad in a sailor dress which her mother had made her in the seventh grade, with the hem cut off, and was given the part.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
Principal photography and filming began on May 17, 1976 and ended in July, with a 50-day shooting schedule. Principal location shooting occurred in California: in Culver City Studios, and in Los Angeles, the Bates High School scenes were filmed at Pier Avenue Junior High in Hermosa Beach, with the exception of the shots of the Bates High School athletic field, which were filmed at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades. The shots of the school in flames, and the gym scenes, were both filmed inside Culver City Studios.
De Palma began with director of photography Isidore Mankofsky, who was eventually replaced by Mario Tosi after conflict between Mankofsky and De Palma ensued. Gregory M. Auer served as the special effects supervisor for Carrie, with Jack Fisk, Spacek's husband, as art director. De Palma borrowed heavily from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, which as a result, gave Carrie a Hitchcockian tone. The most obvious example is the name of the high school, which is Bates High, a reference to Norman Bates from Psycho (1960). In addition, the four note violin theme from Psycho is used throughout the film whenever Carrie uses her telekinetic powers.
Much of the filming and production became problematic, most notably the prom scene, perhaps the most chaotic to film, and took over two weeks to shoot, with 35 takes. Auer added red, green and yellow food colouring to a bulk-sold concoction known in the cosmetics industry as 7-11 Blood. However, when it was put to use, the concoction kept drying and adhering to Spacek's skin because of the hot lights. The only solution was to hose Spacek down when the substance got gluey.
A wraparound segment at beginning and end of the film was scripted and filmed which featured the Whites' home being pummeled by stones that hailed from the sky. The opening scene was filmed as planned, though on celluloid, the tiny pebbles looked like rain water. A mechanical malfunction botched production the night when the model of the Whites' home was set to be destroyed, so they burned it down instead and dropped the scenes with the stones altogether. However, some interior scenes had already been filmed which were left in the movie where one can clearly see boulders crashing through the Whites' ceiling.
Awards and critical reception 
Carrie received immensely positive reviews and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1976. The film currently holds a 91% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated the film was an "absolutely spellbinding horror movie", as well as an "observant human portrait". Pauline Kael of The New Yorker stated that Carrie was "the best scary-funny movie since Jaws — a teasing, terrifying, lyrical shocker". Take One Magazine critic Susan Schenker said she was "angry at the way Carrie manipulated me to the point where my heart was thudding, and embarrassed because the film really works." A 1998 edition of The Movie Guide stated Carrie was a "landmark horror film", while Stephen Farber prophetically stated in a 1978 issue of New West Magazine, "it's a horror classic, and years from now it will still be written and argued about, and it will still be scaring the daylights out of new generations of moviegoers." Quentin Tarantino placed Carrie at number 8 in a list of his favorite films ever.
Nevertheless, the film was not without its detractors. Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice commented, "There are so few incidents that two extended sequences are rendered in slow-motion as if to pad out the running time..."
In addition to being a box office success, Carrie is notable for being one of the few horror films to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, respectively. The film also won the grand prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, while Sissy Spacek was given the Best Actress award by the National Society of Film Critics. In 2008, Carrie was ranked number 86 on Empire Magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. This movie also ranked number 15 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies, and #46 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Greatest Cinema Thrills, and was also ranked eighth for its famous ending sequence on Bravo's five-hour miniseries The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004).
In a March 20, 2010 interview, King replied that he thought, although dated now, Carrie was a "good movie."
American Film Institute lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – #46
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Carrie White – Nominated Villain
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – Nominated
The score for Carrie was composed by Pino Donaggio. In addition, Donaggio scored two pop songs ("Born to Have It All" and "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me") with lyrics by Merrit Malloy for the early portion of the prom sequence. These songs were performed by Katie Irving, sister of star Amy Irving and daughter of star Priscilla Pointer. Donaggio would work again with De Palma on Home Movies, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, Raising Cain, and Passion.
The other songs were uncredited in the film and omitted from all album releases due to different ownership. These songs are "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas, "Education Blues" by Vance or Towers, and a third song called "Lady Lay", which is also presumed to be by Vance or Towers (it was cowritten by that band's Michael Towers). Additionally, two brief musical interludes during the prom ("Pre-Prom Disco" and "Ernest's Announcement") were also written by the same songwriting team who wrote "Lady Lay" and have never been issued.
The soundtrack album was originally released on vinyl in 1976 under the United Artists label. It was also released on cassette tape at some time during the '70s or '80s. A deluxe CD edition containing a few tracks of dialogue from the film was released by MGM/Rykodisc in 1997, and a 2005 CD re-release of the original soundtrack (minus dialogue) was available from Varèse Sarabande. Huge portions of the film's score were omitted from all of these releases. A bootleg version of the isolated score ripped from the Criterion laserdisc has also been in circulation on the internet.
In 2010, Kritzerland Records released all 35 cues of Donaggio's score for the film on a 2-disc CD set which was boasted as the complete score. Also included in this edition were bonus instrumental versions of "Born to Have It All" and "I Never Dreamed...", and, hidden at the end of the final track, a version of the "Calisthenics" cue with Betty Buckley's studio-recorded voiceover from the detention scene. The second disc was a remastered copy of the original 13-track album. The Kritzerland release was a limited edition of 1200 copies.
Related productions 
Carrie, along with the novel, has been reproduced and adapted several times.
Main article: The Rage: Carrie 2
The Rage: Carrie 2 was released in 1999. It featured another teenager with telekinetic powers who is revealed to have shared a father with Carrie White. The film received universally negative reviews and was a box office failure.
2002 TV film 
Main article: Carrie (2002 film)
In 2002, a television film based on King's novel and starring Angela Bettis in the titular role was released. The film updated the events of the story to modern-day settings and technology while simultaneously attempting to be more faithful to the book's original structure, storyline, and specific events. However, the ending was drastically changed: instead of killing her mother and then herself, the film has Carrie killing her mother, being revived via CPR by Sue Snell and being driven to Florida to hide. This new ending marked a complete divergence from the novel and was a signal that the movie served as a pilot for a Carrie television series, which never materialized. In the new ending, the rescued Carrie vows to help others with similar gifts to her own. Although Angela Bettis' portrayal of Carrie was highly praised, the film was cited by most critics as inferior to the original.
Stage productions 
Main article: Carrie (musical)
A 1988 Broadway musical of the same name, based on King's novel and starring Betty Buckley, Linzi Hateley and Darlene Love, closed after only 16 previews and five performances. An English pop opera filtered through Greek tragedy, the show was so notorious that it provided the title to Ken Mandelbaum's survey of theatrical disasters, Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops.
Early in the 21st century, playwright Erik Jackson attempted to secure the rights to stage another production of Carrie the musical, but his request was rejected. Jackson eventually earned the consent of Stephen King to mount a new, officially-sanctioned, non-musical production of Carrie, which debuted Off-Broadway in 2006 with female impersonator Sherry Vine in the lead role. Similarly, many other unofficial spoofs have been staged over the years, usually with a gym teacher named "Miss Collins" (as opposed to the novel's "Miss Desjardin" and the musical's "Miss Gardner"), most notably the "parodage" Scarrie the Musical, which hit the Illinois stage in 1998 and was revived in 2005; Dad's Garage Theatre's 2002 production of Carrie White the Musical; and the 2007 New Orleans production of Carrie's Facts of Life, which was a hybrid of Carrie and the classic American sitcom The Facts of Life.
2013 film 
Main article: Carrie (2013 film)
In May 2011, it was officially announced that Carrie would be adapted to film once more. MGM and Screen Gems hired Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to write the script for the new movie with "a more faithful adaptation" of King's novel. Aguirre-Sacasa had previously adapted King's epic novel The Stand into comic-book form in 2008.
Stephen King suggested Lindsay Lohan for the main role, saying that "it would certainly be fun to cast". Actress Sissy Spacek also expressed her opinion about Lohan as Carrie White, stating that she "was like, 'Oh my God, she's really a beautiful girl' and so I was very flattered that they were casting someone to look like me instead of the real Carrie described in the book. It's gonna be real interesting." In March 2012, the role of Carrie was offered to 16-year-old actress Chloë Grace Moretz.
The film is set to be released on October 18th, 2013.
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