They’re all going to laugh at you – Carrie review
Written by: James Garibay,
March 7, 2016, 4:00 a.m.
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A classic Stephen King book about a girl with telekinesis bullied and pushed too far by her peers. It’s been remade a couple of times, once as a cheesy T.V. movie and again a few years ago with Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz. It even spawned a dumb sequel in the late 90s, The Rage: Carrie 2. But for today, let’s just focus on the original, Sissy Spacek version in the 1970s.
We start off coming up on high school girls’ gym class playing volleyball, and we meet the girl in which the movie gets its name, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek). It would actually make a fun drinking game, take a shot every time anyone says “Carrie White.” So she tries to be involved only to be shunned, and we meet the main villain, Kris Hargensen (Nancy Allen). As she’s passing by she tells Carrie, “You eat shit!!” Why are some girls extremely bitchy for no reason?
Now we actually start the movie in the locker room and Carrie begins to shower trying to find some solace. Then horror of horrors for any teenage girl, I imagine, she gets her first period and has no idea what is happening. She cries for help only to be laughed at, have tampons thrown at her while the girls chant “plug it up! plug it up!” Amidst the commotion the gym teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) comes in and slaps Carrie to calm her down.
Here is one thing I don’t understand. They are adapting a King book, why did they change the gym teacher’s name from Miss Desjardan to Collins? That always bugged me. Anyway, Carrie gets sent home to rest and on the way she gets made fun of again by a little boy riding his bike. He chants “Creepy Carrie! Creepy Carrie!” and she knocks him off his bike with her developing powers. It’s at this moment she starts to realize that she has this ability.
When Carrie gets home, she has to confront her mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie). Mrs. White is a crazed, religious nut, who thinks almost everything in the world is evil, and goes against God. Carrie questions her mother why she didn’t tell her about the changing of a woman’s body. Margaret blames Carrie for her getting her period drags, and locks her into a tiny closet and tells her to pray. It’s no wonder Carrie has no social skills.
Back at school, all the girls from the gym class are going to be punished for what they did to Carrie, and if they don’t participate, they lose their privilege to go to prom. Here we get to know a bit more about Sue Snell (Amy Irving). Sue is actually the only one who feels badly about what they did to Carrie in the locker room. So as a way to make it up to Carrie, she asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (William Katt), to ask Carrie to the prom. Why doesn’t she just befriend Carrie and help her through the tough time of every teenager’s life?! Tommy agrees and upon much reluctance, Carrie finally accepts his offer. This doesn’t go over well with Mrs. White.
The night of prom, Carrie has made her own dress and has shown her powers to her mother. Margaret truly believes that the devil is inside of Carrie, and therefore must be vanquished. Carrie’s dress is a pale pink, and her mother says “Red, I might have known.” Margaret has such a warped view of the outside world, that in her mind she does see red. Now we get the prom, the scene that the entire movie leads up to.
And things seem to be looking up for Carrie. She’s there having a good time with the boy she likes, and to top it off, she has been named the Prom Queen, unknowing to her and Tommy, that it’s another prank brought on by Kris Hargensen and her boyfriend, Billy Nolan (John Travolta before Saturday Night Fever). The two are hiding underneath the stage waiting for Tommy and Carrie to get in place. Once in place, Kris pulls the rope dropping a bucket of pigs’ blood right on top of Carrie. The bucket falls on Tommy’s head cracking his skull, killing him almost instantly. Thus, Carrie’s powers completely take her over.
As everyone is now laughing at her, she locks everyone inside, Billy and Kris get out just before, and Carrie begins reeking havoc with her telekinesis, electrocuting some and burning down the building. As the gym burns down, Carrie exits and starts to head home in her powerful haze. On the way, Kris and Billy chase her down and they meet their demise. She gets home and cleans off all the blood. Which is very symbolic, because not only is it the pigs’ blood, but she also now has all the blood of the people she just killed on her hands.
After her bath, she tries to find comfort in her mother’s embrace. Her mother then decides to give Carrie, what she believes is the ultimate gift, death. She is of course unsuccessful and Carrie kills her mother with a bunch of kitchen utensils. Margaret, upon meeting her own death, finds some kind of orgasmic comfort in it. Completely distraught over EVERYTHING, has this sort of “Frakenstein’s Monster” motif, where she realizes that she does not belong in this world. So she uses her power to crash the house down bringing an end to her own life.
It really is a classic movie. I love the low budget aspect and the simplicity of it all. It got made with only $1.8 million, and they knew where they had to put the money. The performances are wonderful. Sissy Spacek really owned this role. The blood dump had to suck because it was so low budget, they used corn syrup and food coloring. They would warm the “blood” first but once it cooled, it was extremely sticky. She had some someone following her around with a little spray bottle so her arms wouldn’t stick to her sides. To get out of the dress, Sissy would just have to get into shower and go from there. And she was very adamant about doing her own hand and foot shots. So at the very end when Carrie’s hand reaches for Sue Snell, that’s actually Sissy Spacek buried under there.
For many of the actors, it was their first big movie. This little film got John Travolta noticed, and he is barley in it. I think he has collected seven minutes of screen time, but he made such an impact as Billy Nolan, giving him the start of his long-lasting career. Nancy Allen went on to be in the Robocop films and many others. What’s funny is that these two had no idea that they were playing such villains in the film.
They would come to set and mostly be laughing. Except the shower chanting scene, Nancy was kind of disturbed by that because of the hysterical frenzy they all had to work themselves into. And when Betty Buckley (Miss Collins) slaps her, she REALLY slaps her. Brian De Palma shot that slap over and over again. Back in the 70s, they did what they needed to do to get the reaction from the actors. P.J. Soles was great and funny in this and went to make two more classics: Halloween and Rock & Roll High School. It’s funny how many actors get their start from horror movies.
There are quite a few changes from the book, but that’s Hollywood for you. Like the death of Mrs. White, in the book Carrie uses her powers to stop her heart because she is trying to drown her in the bath tub. And when the house caves in, Carrie’s power was so great that she that she could make boulders rain from the sky. They were actually going to film it that way, but the conveyer belt they were going to use broke down.
What would happen if someone with telekinesis was pushed too far? Maybe something like this: the 2013 remake was a great updated version of the story. I have talked to a lot of people about what they thought, and most had the same problem with it. And they said, “Chloe Grace Moretz is just too pretty of a girl to be bullied.” And to that I have this to say, yes, Chloe Grace Moretz is a very pretty girl, but back in the 70s, it was the odd looking kids that were being bullied. And Sissy Spacek is a very unique looking woman, so it worked for that time. Where as nowadays, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Kids are bullied because they are poor, or don’t have new fancy cars, or have the up-to-date cell phones. So to take this beautiful girl and make her the new Carrie, I think it works for today’s generation.