Runtime: 1 h 38 min
Rated: R
Released: 03 Nov 1976
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Stephen King, Lawrence D. Cohen
Actors: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, John Travolta
DVD release: 29 Sep 1998
Box Office: N/A
Company: United Artists

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Tomato user meter: 76%
Tomato consensus: Carrie is a horrifying look at supernatural powers, high school cruelty, and teen angst -- and it brings us one of the most memorable and disturbing prom scenes in history.


Horror, Thriller
A young, abused and timid 17-year-old girl discovers she has telekinesis, and gets pushed to the limit on the night of her school's prom by a humiliating prank.
92%Rotten Tomatoes
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      "Carrie" is a melding of two great artists, in this case, Stephen King, who wrote the novel and Brian DePalma, who directed the film. This is a tense, exciting thriller that is also a sturdy character study. It's hard to make a film that can accomplish both, but DePalma does it.

      King's novel mostly dealt with a telekinetic girl who is cruelly treated by her classmates. DePalma and screenwriter Lawrence Cohen follow the novel fairly closely, with the exception of the ending, which is a great deal more sensationalistic and better, in my opinion. (King himself liked the finale and the film, as stated in his exceptional study of the horror genre "Danse Macabre")

      As is the case in most DePalma films, the technical credits are superb. The cinematography (by Mario Tosi)is extremely effective; colors and shadows have never been shot more effectively in a DePalma film since. The film score is by Pino Donaggio, and it marks the first collaboration between Donaggio and DePalma. (Bernard Herrmann died shortly after "Obsession" was completed) Donaggio is among the most underrated and overlooked composers of his time. His scores for "Dressed to Kill", "Blow Out" and "Body Double" are all exceptional and all deserved Oscars. "Carrie" is no less brilliant, as it accomplishes what all great scores are supposed to do: enhance the film without giving anything away. Paul Hirsch's editing is also extremely effective as it was in "Sisters", "Obsession", "Blow Out" and "Raising Cain".

      But it is the performances that make "Carrie" stand out. Carrie is played by Sissy Spacek in a performance of such power and strength that she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (the first actress ever to be nominated for a horror film; the second would be Sigourney Weaver for "Aliens")She manages to hit all the right notes. A lesser actress would have veered toward melodrama. Spacek plays the role more realistically and the film is much more effective that way. (Just in case you didn't know, Spacek was a DePalma regular, but off-screen; she was the art director for several of his early pictures). Also, "Carrie" marked the return of Piper Laurie to films after a too-long hiatus (her last credit was "The Hustler") Here, she plays Carrie's mother. Again, a lesser actress would have veered toward melodrama, but Laurie resists the temptation. Her performance is a real knockout and also garned an Oscar nomination (she should have won, but typical Academy genius set in and gave the prize to Beatrice Straight who was in "Network" for a whopping 10 minutes and really didn't do much.)Also, as a side note, this film also is a start for some future DePalma regulars such as John Travolta (his first major studio film) and Nancy Allen (her first major role)

      What I really liked about "Carrie" is the absolutely perfect ending. I had commented before that "Sisters" had an absolutely perfect ending. The one thing about Brian DePalma is that he knows how to end a picture. "Dressed to Kill" had a really good one, although some people hated it as well as "Blow Out". "The Fury" has the greatest ending of all the DePalma thrillers.

      A small note to finish: In 1999, "Carrie 2" was made by profiteers at MGM. Despite a rich premise, the film was an artistic failure. DePalma had nothing to worry about. The sequel (retread might be a better word) lacks everything that makes DePalma's original so good. Rent or buy the original, on tape (in pan-and-scan or widescreen)and DVD (widescreen)and forget the sequel, even if they give it away.

      **** out of 4 stars
      show full movie reviewsource10/10
    • Queen Bees, Wannabes and Carrie...Nowadays, we have literal truck loads of books on how to deal with our tormented teenage daughters. We all know in this day and age that teenage girls are wicked bullies and the damage inflicted by their relentless bullying is often irreparable. But you don't need those books. Most of us who have watched the film "Carrie" already know the devastating effect that merciless torment can have upon us. That's why we watched the film - to see those bullies get what they deserve and to cheer Carrie on every step of the way.

      Carrie is an abused teenager with a void where her self-esteem should be. Her mother is a whacko religious nut who likes to violently throw Carrie around for imagined sins and lock her in the closet for days on end. Her schoolmates are spoiled rotten Clique Queens, who enjoy attacking anyone less popular than they are, for no reason at all other than that it amuses them. Carrie becomes their main target when her period - incredibly late - finally arrives one day in the locker room shower. Carrie, who has never been sexually educated and is under the impression that she is bleeding to death, freaks out. Of course, her classmates find this terribly amusing.

      With her the onset of her menstrual cycle, her dormant powers of telekinesis suddenly wake and cannot be controlled anymore than her newly awakened raging hormones can be. Unfortunately, no one is aware of this. As Carrie dares to stand up to her mother and begins to break out of her shell, her cruel and sadistic classmates have a plan to keep her in her place forever. Too bad they don't know how dangerous all that suppressed anger can be. Carrie gets her revenge on them all and the climax of the film is a bloody, fiery apocalypse, as Carrie unleashes her pent up anger along with her powers and literally lets them run their ferocious course.

      Carrie is not so much a horror film as it is a psychological one. The human mind is capable of horrors that no movie camera or special effects crew can reproduce, and the abused psyche is a monster that no one wants to see unleashed. It features great performances by Sissy Spacek as the severely damaged Carrie, Piper Laurie as her delusional mother, Amy Irving as the one teenage girl with a streak of compassion and guilt and Nancy Allen as every nerds nightmare - the Popular Girl with no morals, no feelings and no mercy.

      For having been written by a man (Stephen Kings first novel) this is a powerful portrait of what it is like to be a teenage girl...and an outcast one at that. The hope, the anger and frustration, all are strong and realistically portrayed. This is a film about the monster within us all.
      show full movie reviewsource5/10
    • Anyone who expected just another horror movie is obviously dissapointed!
      I just came back from a special showing of Carrie in the student's cinema of my university and I must say one thing: THANK YOU to the director, for this is one of the best, most moving films I've ever seen. I honestly don't understand the "it's not scary" mentality!

      Now, whether you want to call this horror film or thriller or whatever else is up to you, but I think Carrie's scope cannot reaches beyond just one genre! It is a thriller, but at the same time a very humane movie. You can feel the girl hurting, you hate her mother, you dislike her friends! This movie wasn't made for cheap scares: every scene is brilliantly captured. The scary parts may be rare but when they are there you just can't move from your seat!

      The acting is also excellent, Sissy Spacek of course deserving most of the credit, but that is not to say that the other actors aren't great too.

      Concerning the script, all the credit goes of course to Stephen King. When you see this movie you can really tell the difference between an artist like him an some cheap Hollywood writer (Scream?). There is so much more to the story than: -Booooo! -Aaaaaa!

      So, if you want to see a "scary movie", go see Scream or some other shallow horror film. However if you are looking for a terrifying but also moving film, Carrie is just right for you. And please, if you must put this work of art into one genre, its better if you put it in social drama rather than horror film. Of course it's not scary! It's MUCH more than just that.
      show full movie reviewsource8/10
    • Carrie: 8/10
      Carrie boomed Sissy Spacek's and John Travolta's career. I understand why.

      Carrie starts off at a gym locker room, where we find out how much the other kids hate Carrie. But, we find out that Carrie has some powers. Like in other Stephen King book-movies, the supernatural aspect is only minor compared to the rest of the story, but it comes into play at the end. Carrie's mom (Piper Laurie) is an over-protective religious zealot who makes The Royal Tenenbaums seem normal. So Carrie tries to cope with her horrible life, but it's getting tougher and tougher.

      Spacek is exceptional as Carrie, and I now know why she was nominated for Best Actress. Her emotions are real, not some fake tear drops that make us think she's sad. Either she has great motivation, or she's one of the best actresses of the century (or both!). Laurie was equally good as her mother who locks Carrie up in a closet everytime she thinks that Carrie has sinned. This movie wouldn't be half of what it was if the acting wasn't so great. When Carrie was sad, you were sad. When the other kids ridiculed her, you felt like you wanted to kill the kids. When she smiled, you smiled. Emotions that raw couldn't come from just any movie.

      If you know me, I'm a stickler for character developement. Carrie didn't take much time, but from the opening scene you knew about Carrie and her weakness. So are the secondary characters; they're nicely developed even if their role isn't that major. Travolta had a miniscule role, but he was fine in it; it led to Grease and Saturday Night Fever.

      The prom scene has got to be one of the most memorable scenes from a horror movie. That red tint is awesome; it's like a premonition. In fact, the movie is full of premonition: the red tint, the freaky looking voodoo doll, "They're all going to laugh at you." I'm assuming that director Brian De Palma meant to put that in, so it just isn't about some supernatural powers, it's also about foreshadowing. Also, I dig that camera movement during the dancing.

      The blood and gore wasn't held back, but they just put in what was necessary. De Palma obviously stole from Hitchcock's Psycho, mainly the music cue whenever Carrie is using her telepathy. Also, her school, Bates High, is another Psycho refrence.

      Carrie was also very creepy. It wasn't a thrill-a-minute, but at the ending, that was Scary with a capital S. The last ten or twenty minutes were scare-inducing for sure. That last jump scene in the dream...wow! It's still jumping at me. If there was one complaint I had to do about the movie, it's that it took too much time to get to main scene and the prom went on a little too long, but other than that it's a first class horrror/thriller that any horror buff needs to see.

      My rating: 8/10

      Rated R for nudity, some language, and blood.
      show full movie reviewsource8/10
    • "Carrie" marked Brian De Palma's breakthrough…It is a classic offbeat horror-melodrama merging harmoniously the family Gothic extravaganza, supernatural power, and a woman's movie of a peculiar kind… It remains the cinema's best adaptation of a Stephen King novel…

      The film initiated De Palma's inclination for surprise diverts between playful imagination and reality, as in the opening, which swifts from a soft-core porn fantasia of girls taking a shower in the locker room to the fact of Carrie's menstruation for the first time—the first sign of "otherness" that will reserve her as an horrifying monster from her small-minded colleagues…

      All the oppression that Carrie undergoes both at home (with a bible beating maniacal mother played by scary Piper Laurie who develops twisted bizarre ideas) and at school to suppress tension which takes the shape of super telekinetic power, the ability to move objects with the strength of her mind… We observe with ambivalence as Carrie's insatiable revenge jumps the line into uncontrolled mass murders ever filmed…

      Sissy Spacek is amazing as the mocked, helpless girl pushed over the edge… Her face and body twist like a living special effect to unleash her pent up rage, as well as her character's alarming progress from painfully shy high-school teenager to Angel of Vengeance…
      show full movie reviewsource8/10