Film / Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1976) is the first and best-known adaptation of the Stephen King novel Carrie. It was directed by Brian De Palma and stars Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Nancy Allen.

High school can be rough, especially when you are the school outcast. Carrie White (Spacek) has spent her entire life as the town pariah, rejected by her peers and regularly abused by her fanatically religious mother, Margaret (Laurie). However, Carrie has a secret: she has telekinetic powers. When heartthrob Tommy (William Katt) invites Carrie to the school prom, her whole world will change for the better... and worse.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Margaret White
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the original novel, Carrie was described as short, chunky, covered in acne, and with short mousy brown hair, while in the movie she is tall and very skinny without any acne and long strawberry blonde hair. Margaret has one of these two, as she is described as short and fat with short white hair and glasses while in the movie she is portrayed as tall and slim with medium-length russet-brown hair.
  • Beta Bitch: The '76 film upgrades Norma to this, and the '02 and '13 films do the same with Tina, giving Chris a female partner in crime. Neither was actually evil in the book, though Tina was friends with Chris.
  • Big Damn Kiss: In a horror movie about what jerks people can be, there's a nice kiss that offers a breather. When Tommy gets Carrie on the dance floor, he gives her her first and only kiss. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, and a nice moment before all the awful destruction to come.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Experienced by Sue at the end.
  • Disappeared Dad: The book version of Carrie's father died in an accident before she was born. In the film, though, it is made clear that Ralph White left Margaret for another woman, acting as a Sequel Hook for The Rage: Carrie 2.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The final scene, where Sue is grabbed by Carrie's arm coming out of the ground while laying flowers at the ashes of her house. Thankfully, it turns out to be All Just a Dream. This shock ending wound up having a major influence on many pioneering Slasher Movies, particularly Friday the 13th (1980).
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Billy's Chevelle explodes soon after rolling over. Justified, though, in that it's made clear that Carrie caused the car to blow up with her mind.
  • Fanservice: Played straight and then subverted in the opening credits sequence. It starts out with a lingering, slow-motion pan shot of teenage girls (most of them nude or underwear-clad) in the locker room, culminating in a minute-long scene of Carrie taking a shower... and then Carrie has her period, and things turn real ugly real fast.
  • Feedback Rule: During the climactic scene, principal Morton and instructor Fromm tussle over the microphone about what to say during the crisis at the prom. The resulting microphone squeal brings them to Carrie's attention; she disposes of these goofballs by electrocuting them with the mic wiring.
  • Final Girl: Sue fits this pretty fairly well, save for the fact that she never directly confronts the killer... except in her nightmares.
  • Ironic Echo: Carrie crucifies Margaret and stabs her stomach with sharp kitchen tools, and she is positioned to look exactly like the figure of Saint Sebastian in the confessional.
  • Kick the Dog: The English teacher making fun of Carrie for saying Tommy's poem is "beautiful". It shows that even the teachers are assholes to Carrie.
  • Kill 'em All: In the original film, Sue is the only major character who survives to the end.
  • Mutual Kill: Margaret stabs Carrie, Carrie uses Margaret's knives to crucify her, and then Carrie's My God, What Have I Done? reaction leads her to burn down her house with both of them inside.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The gym teacher, Miss Collins, is one of the few characters to defend Carrie by punishing her tormentors. Unfortunately, this leads to them plotting far more horrific revenge, leading to the iconic scene at the end.
  • Precision F-Strike: Miss Collins refers to the prank orchestrated by Chris as "a very shitty thing" twice in succession. This elicits a few giggles from the gym students.
  • Psycho Strings: Heard whenever Carrie uses her powers.
  • '70s Hair: Most of the cast, with the biggest example (in more ways than one) being William Katt's massive blond 'fro.
  • Shout-Out: The film, being directed by noted Alfred Hitchcock fan Brian De Palma, has tons of shout-outs to Hitchcock's movies. The two biggest ones are probably the use of the "shower" music from Psycho, and the fact that the school is renamed Bates High School.
  • Slasher Smile: Margaret, while she's coming after Carrie with a huge kitchen knife and making the sign of the Holy Cross with it. Right into the camera.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Pino Donaggio is a master of this, scoring some very disturbing scenes in either a very inappropriately sexy or sweet fashion.
  • Workout Fanservice: The detention scene, which seems to exist mainly to feature a gaggle of high school girls wearing tiny gym shorts doing stretches and squats, all while Betty Buckley (wearing similarly tiny shorts) serves as a Drill Sergeant Nasty.