Carrie was a movie of firsts for me. It was the first horror film that I had ever seen. It introduced me to one of my favourite actresses ever – Sissy Spacek. It was also probably the first time that I was introduced to the works of Stephen King. I first saw Carrie on late-night TV. I was pretty young at the time, so I was surprised that I was allowed to stay up and watch it. I was glad I did. I was mesmerized. It was a great story and the acting was brilliant. There are so many good things about this film from a film making standpoint that I feel it is wrong to classify it as a horror movie.
The chemistry between Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie is amazing. The teenage innocence from Spacek and the over-the-top religious vitriol from Laurie is such a great combination that this theme stayed with me my entire life. In fact, it was Laurie’s performance that inspired me to create a similar character in one of my screenplays – an over-the-top right-wing religious character that I took to new heights of over-the-top in a totally satirical comedic way. It was no surprise to me that both Spacek and Laurie got Oscar nominations for their performances.
It is no secret that I love films from the 1970’s – almost as much as I love black and white films from the late 1930’s to the 1950’s. There’s just a great look and feel about them – carefree, bold, pulling no punches, revealing a society that is broken and the attempt to try and mend it, socially progressive, taking chances, sometimes dark and dirty, and at other times bright and sunny in the middle of all the dirt. Carrie is one of these films. It’s a hearkening back to a time when the world (especially the United States) was trying to find its identity through all the upheaval of the 1960’s. Carrie asks all the right social questions and answers them through the mind of an innocent teenager who slowly (then abruptly) is absorbed into a world of trickery and treachery that drives her to seek revenge on tormentors who represent all that is wrong with today’s society.
From a film making standpoint, the number of iconic images and dialogue still stand the test of time. I love the innovative split screen. The teens’ nasty dialogue directed at Carrie and the adults who see Carrie but see right through her when they talk to her, stay with the people who have watched this great film. Betty Buckley is equally great as the sympathetic teacher Miss Collins. I always find it hard to watch her fate – not because it’s so painful but because Carrie thought she betrayed her when she didn’t.
A final word on the remake in 2013. Why? Just like The Manchurian Candidate and Psycho before it, why mess with perfection that can never be topped? Oh, right, $.
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