Director: Brian De Palma
Screenplay: Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the novel Carrie by Stephen King
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, Piper Laurie
Running Time: 98 minutes
Genre: Horror, supernatural, high school, coming-of-age
Summary: Carrie White (Spacek) is a shy, unpopular and frequently bullied sixteen year old girl, who is frequently abused by her fanatically religious mother, Margaret (Laurie). The girls at Carrie's school frequently torment her. One day after a gym class, Carrie has her first period while she is in the showers. Not knowing what is happening and genuinely believing that she is bleeding to death, Carrie panics and her classmates respond by pelting her with tampons and sanitary napkins while chanting: "Plug it up!"
This traumatic experience awakens in Carrie a previously latent power of telekinesis (the ability to move or cause changes in objects by the force of the mind). This power steadily grows in strength. Meanwhile, popular girl Sue Snell (Irving), feeling guilty about her part in tormenting Carrie, convinces her popular football hero boyfrend, Tommy Ross (Katt) to ask Carrie to the Senior Prom. Initially suspicious that it is a prank, Carrie eventually agrees.
Meanwhile, one of Carrie's principal tormentors, Chris Hargensen (Allen) and her hoodlum boyfriend, Billy Nolan (Travolta), plan a sadistic trick to completely humiliate Carrie at the Prom. However, now Carrie has the ability to finally exact her own revenge.
Summary: Carrie was the first novel by Stephen King to be published, and it was also the first of many to be adapted as a film. It is a powerful and disturbing piece of work, which will doubtless strike a chord in anyone who has ever been bullied or felt like an outsider. In the lead role Sissy Spacek gives a superb and sympathetic performance. The film's huge success didn't just kickstart Stephen King's career, it also made director Brian De Palma's name as a Hollywood director, and uses a lot of his trademark visual tricks such as split-screen, soft-focus, slow-motion, speeded up images, sequences shot in reverse and a mobile camera. It also helped to make John Travolta a star.
The film is made all the more effective by the blending of humour and high-school drama with the horror elements, which makes the story even more effective and disturbing. Despite obviously showing it's age, the film has dated well and remains both shocking and funny, sometimes even at the same time. Interestingly enough the film completely belongs to the female characters who make up almost all of the principal cast, both of the main male characters are completely manipulated by the women. Also, despite the violence of Carrie's revenge, she remains a sympathetic character, who just wants to fit in in the violent and cruel snakepit that is the average high-school.
The film was followed by a belated sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), which received almost unanimously negative reviews and was a box office failure. The novel was also adapted as a Broadway musical in 1988, which was a legendary flop and closed after sixteen previews and five performances. In 2002 the novel was adapted as a television mini-series starring Angela Bettis in the title role which received mixed reviews.
Mother knows best: Piper Laurie comforts Sissy Spacek in Carrie.