Take Carrie to the prom. I dare you!
Is there anyone who hasn’t seen Carrie? Of course there is. People will be discovering it for generations to come. I haven’t seen the 2002 or 2013 versions yet, I haven’t read the Stephen King book yet, I’ve seen The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), I liked it. So essentially I think of this as the only Carrie at present.
I first saw this with my mum & dad, we rented it on video as a family. I remember my mum saying something about the beginning being a bit ‘blue’, she’d seen it on the pictures years before & had been pretty effected by it I think. Carrie & A Clockwork Orange were often brought up in conversations about films in our house, before I saw either myself. Anyway, the beginning is a bit ‘blue’, full-frontal nudity in a girl’s changing room, looks like an erotic film of some kind. This dreamy eroticism soon dissipates when blood runs down Carrie’s leg in the shower. What we witness next shatters that dreamy eroticism as a panic-stricken Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is set upon by a horde of bullies chanting, “Plug it up! Plug it up!” & throwing tampons & sanitary towels at her, saved eventually from her misery by Miss Collins (Betty Buckley).
Carrie has telekinesis & this is shown from the outset, a shattering bulb, a moving ashtray, a little shit knocked off his bike for yelling, “Creepy Carrie! Creepy Carrie!” at her. Oh, I’d say he deserved it.
Anyway, then we meet Carrie’s mum, Margaret White (Piper Laurie), who really isn’t any better than the bullies. Margaret is a formidable religious maniac, a monster of a woman, who welcomes Carrie’s newly discovered womanhood by hurling scripture at her & locking her in a closet with an effigy of Saint Sebastian.
Not all the characters in the film are horrible to Carrie, that would be daft. Miss Collins, Tommy Ross (William Katt) & Sue Snell (Amy Irving) are all pretty nice. Carrie is very withdrawn, we’ve met her mum, that’s understandable, & these three characters genuinely struggle to communicate with her, to treat her as a human being. They’re all fine actors too, delivering their individual roles in more than two dimensions, something I hope will happen in the 2013 version, hope. Similarly Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen is a real three-dimensional bitch and John Travolta is great as Billy Nolan, her asshole boyfriend. When it comes to the acting though Sissy Spacek & Piper Laurie are leagues ahead of everyone else.
So, Sue talks Tommy into taking Carrie to the prom, they’re just trying to be nice. Carrie’s mum isn’t happy but Carrie goes anyway, good for her, right? There’s this whole thing about Carrie being accepted as normal going on, this prom is the biggest moment of her life. However, before they even get there, a cruel prank has been arranged by Chris the bitch; a bucket of pig’s blood courtesy of Billy, the dick, is waiting for whoever wins the prom queen & prom king honour at the end of the night, rigged by the bitch of course for Carrie to win.
So, the winners take their positions & down comes the pig’s blood, drenching poor Carrie. Now, I must mention the score by Pino Donaggio, it’s a wonderful score & used to maximum effect as Carrie & Tommy head for the stage. This film is incredibly beautiful at times, especially at the prom where Carrie just radiates happiness; before that is, we are plunged into the operatic hell that is the finale. Who can forget the sound of the bucket banging against the beam for what seems ages before that final sickening sound it makes as it hits Tommy’s head or “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” repeated eerily over a kaleidoscope of cruelty?
The final scenes at the prom & beyond are the finest, to this day, I’ve seen in a horror film. Yes, The Exorcist (1973) is a far scarier film but Carrie isn’t about scares, not to me, it’s about futility, as simple as that, utter futility. I don’t get emotional about horror films normally, I watch them for fun, but Carrie gets to me, no matter how many times I see it. I recently put The Exorcist at number one in a top ten of my favourite films; did I even include Carrie? Well, that just goes to show what top tens are worth.
Carrie White burns in hell!