Carrie (1976 film): Wikis


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Original 1976 theatrical poster
Directed by Brian De Palma
Produced by Brian De Palma
Paul Monash
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen
based on a novel by
Stephen King
Starring Sissy Spacek
Piper Laurie
Betty Buckley
Amy Irving
William Katt
Nancy Allen
John Travolta
Music by Pino Donaggio
Cinematography Mario Tosi
Editing by Paul Hirsch
Distributed by United Artists (1976-1981)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (since 1982)
Release date(s) November 3, 1976
Running time 98 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.8 million (est.)
Gross revenue $33,800,000 (domestically)
Followed by The Rage: Carrie 2

Carrie is a 1976 American horror film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the novel Carrie by Stephen King. The film and the novel deal with a socially outcast teenage girl, Carrie White, who discovers she possesses psionic power which seems to flare up when she becomes angry. Carrie's powers become apparent after her humiliation by her peers, teachers, and abusive mother, eventually resulting in tragedy. The film stars Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, William Katt, John Travolta, and Priscilla Pointer.

The film was a major success for United Artists, grossing over $30 million at the U.S. box office, on a budget of $1.8 million. It received a mostly positive response from critics.[1][2] The film spawned a sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 and a made for television remake, released in 2002, neither of which involved De Palma. During a survey taken in October 2008, it was revealed that Carrie was considered one of the most popular movies teens watch on Halloween.[3]



Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is an outcast teenager who is abused by her fanatically religious mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie). The girls at school constantly harass and tease Carrie, with Chris (Nancy Allen) being especially cruel. At the beginning of the film, Carrie is showering in gym class as her first period begins. Being brought up in a religious household, Carrie is unaware that this is normal and begins freaking out. The other girls pelt her with tampons and sanitary napkins while they start to chant "plug it up!" until the gym teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) runs out of her office and steps in to put a stop to it. Carrie continues to scream for help until Ms. Collins slaps her to quiet her down. In the middle, Carrie manages to "break" an overhead lamp. After Miss Collins throws them out, she explains the concept of menstruation to Carrie, who had never heard of such a thing (as her mother never talked to her about it).

Carrie is then sent to the principal's office and is excused from gym class for a week; the principal continually calls Carrie "Cassie" until she finally screams "It's Carrie!" as an ashtray suddenly flies off the desk and crashes on the floor.

Later, as Carrie is walking home, a young bike-riding boy teases her and she uses her telekinetic powers to stop the boy from teasing her. When Carrie returns home, her mother receives a phone call from school explaining what happened. Margaret prays for her mercilessly as she believes Carrie's period was brought on by sinning. Afterwards, Margaret drags Carrie kicking and screaming in a kitchen closet to pray for forgiveness with an effigy of St. Sebastian (which she prays to until her mother lets her out). Carrie goes to her room in the night and is able to break her mirror after staring at it; when her mother goes upstairs to check on her, the mirror has suddenly repaired itself.

While attending English class, Carrie's teacher Mr. Fromm (Sydney Lassick) reads a poem written by Tommy Ross (William Katt), a popular, nice looking boy. When Carrie gives her opinion of the poem, Mr. Fromm berates her in front of everybody. Miss Collins, still livid about the shower incident, puts the girls through a "boot camp" style detention. Chris refuses to continue with her punishment, is banned from the prom and blames Carrie. Carrie spends time in the library finding out more about her gift, telekinesis. Another one of the girls, Sue Snell (Amy Irving), Tommy's girlfriend, feels guilty for her part from teasing Carrie and asks him to take Carrie to the prom out of pity.

Elsewhere, Chris and her boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) are going on a joyride where she makes her true intentions known: she wants help to get revenge on Carrie. Billy was clueless when he hears Chris said "Billy, I hate Carrie White".

While Carrie is looking up books about telekinesis in the library, Tommy asks Carrie if she will to go the prom with him, and she runs away in embarrassment. Miss Collins goes to talk with her, and Carrie explains that Tommy asked her to the prom; she is both ecstatic and suspicious. Ms. Collins has a chat with Tommy and Sue, who try and explain that they're simply trying to help Carrie with her social life. Miss Collins defends Carrie, but then explains to Tommy that taking Carrie to the prom would make him look like a fool.

After repeated attempts, with Carrie continually turning him down, Tommy finally explains to her that he wants to go with her because she liked his poem, and she accepts. While having dinner with her mother, Carrie tells her that she was invited to the prom. Margaret throws a cup of tea in Carrie's face and begins screaming "after the blood come the boys!". She tells Carrie to go pray in her closet, and Carrie steadfastily refuses. Carrie finally begins using her telekinetic powers to slam all the doors and windows in the house, trying to get her mother's attention. She explains that she can "move objects with her mind;" Margaret calls her a witch and explains that Satan's powers are working through her, as they worked through her father. Carrie reminds her mother that her father ran off with another woman, and Margaret is quick to change the subject, trying to convince Carrie that she must renounce her power. Carrie refuses and simply states that she is going to the prom regardless of what her mother thinks. While all of this is happening, Chris and Billy slaughter some pigs and plan to use their blood in a vicious prank directed at Carrie.

While getting ready for the prom, Margaret desperately urges Carrie not to go, telling her that everyone is "going to laugh at her." Carrie uses her telekinesis to pin her mother to the bed, and tells her to shut up until she leaves. After she does, Margaret says to herself, "thou shall not suffer a witch to live".

After arriving at the senior prom, both Carrie and Tommy are reluctant to go inside, but they quickly do. Carrie is then treated to the night of her life. Ms. Collins reminds her that she will "never forget this night". Carrie and Tommy dance together; where Tommy falls for Carrie and kisses her. This time comes to vote for the prom king and queen, and both Carrie and Tommy are on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Chris and Billy are hiding under the stage, ready to dump the bucket of pig blood on Carrie, which is attached to a rope. Carrie and Tommy winning the title is ensured as Chris' friend Norma (P.J. Soles) and her boyfriend, who they are on the prom committee, collect the ballots and votes for other candidates are discreetly discarded before being handed in to be counted.

Carrie and Tommy win the title of Prom King and Queen. As they walk up to the stage, Carrie experiences the happiest moment of her entire life. Sue, standing in the wings, watches her but quickly realizes something is afoot when she sees the rope attached to the bucket. She tries to stop Chris, but is pulled away by Miss Collins and thrown out of the gym. Chris pulls the rope and the bucket of pig blood is dumped on her. The entire crowd falls silent as the bucket falls on Tommy, knocking him unconscious. The entire crowd breaks out into laughter, just as Carrie's mother promised they would.

Carrie finally snaps and turns into a rage-filled monster. At this point in the film, the screen becomes divided into sections using the split screen effect and portrays several things going on at once (a trademark of De Palma's films). She uses her telekinetic powers to lock all the doors and begin spraying everyone with fire hoses. Ms. Collins and others run up to the stage to try and help Tommy while Carrie splashes the stage with water, electrocuting Mr. Fromm via the microphone stand. Ms. Collins and the others try carrying Tommy out of the gym while desperately running from the pools of electrified water, but Carrie pins her to a wall and drops an overhead rafter into her stomach, killing her. Mr. Fromm falls backwards and becomes entangled in the electrified tinfoil rope before crashing into the tinfoil wall and bursting into flames. The entire gym goes up in flames and Carrie slowly begins to walk out in severe shock, ignorning the horrific screams surrounding her, and trapping everyone inside after she leaves. Chris and Billy try to run over Carrie with their car, but Carrie uses her powers to destroy it, killing both of them.

Carrie goes home and discovers that the entire house is filled with candles. She goes upstairs and takes a bath, washes the pig blood off of her, goes into her room, and calls for her mother. Margaret, hiding behind the door, hugs her daughter and gets down on her knees. She tells Carrie that she liked having sex with her husband, Ralph, and believes this caused Carrie to become possessed by evil. Margaret tries killing her with an enormous butcher knife until Carrie uses her telekinesis to viciously assault Margaret with an array of knives and kitchen utensils, pinning her to the wall in the manner of her St. Sebastian effigy, and killing her. Due to the stress of realizing she has killed her own mother, Carrie's powers are uncontrollable as the house starts to be destroyed due to her stressed powers. Carrie drags her mother into the prayer closet to escape, only to be killed when a chunk of concrete falls on her, and the house slowly burns to the ground.

Sue, who survived the prom night massacre, is recovering from her traumatic experience. She is seen walking down the street towards Carrie's house with a bouquet of flowers, and lays them on the remains of Carrie's old house. As she does so, in a horrific, shocking scene, Carrie's hand bursts out of the ground and grabs Sue. Sue wakes up screaming and crying, with her mother holding on to her to try and calm her down. It was only a terrible nightmare.



Carrie was the first Stephen King novel to be published and the first to be adapted into a feature film. De Palma told Cinefantastique magazine in an interview in 1977:

I read the book. It was suggested to me by a writer friend of mine. A writer friend of his, Stephen King, had written it. I guess this was almost two years ago [circa 1975]. I liked it a lot and proceeded to call my agent to find out who owned it. I found out that nobody had bought it yet. A lot of studios were considering it, so I called around to some of the people I knew and said it was a terrific book and I'm very interested in doing it. Then nothing happened for, I guess, six months.[4]

Lawrence D. Cohen was hired as the writer, and produced the first draft, which had closely followed the novel's intentions.[5] However, later versions departed from King's vision rapidly, and certain scripted scenes were omitted from the final version, mainly due to financial limitations.

The final scene, in which Sue Snell reaches toward Carrie's grave, was shot backwards to give it a dreamlike quality. It was also filmed at night, using artificial lighting to create the desired effect. This scene was inspired by the final scene in Deliverance (1972).[5] Spacek had insisted on using her own hand in the given scene, so she was positioned under the rocks and gravel. De Palma stated 'Sissy, come on, I'll get a stunt person, what do you want, to be buried in the ground?!' However Spacek declared 'Brian, I have to do this.' De Palma explains that they "had to bury her. Bury her! We had to put her in a box and stick her underneath the ground. Well, I had her husband bury her, because I certainly didn't want to bury her. I used to walk around and set up the shot and every once in a while, we'd hear Sissy: 'Are we ready yet?' 'Yeah, Sissy, we're gonna be ready real soon." The White house was filmed in Santa Paula,California, and to give the home a Gothic theme, director and producers went to religious shops looking for artifacts to place in the home.

Coincidentally, one of the locations where Carrie was filmed, Palisades Charter High School, was at one time owned by the parents of Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, years before the school was built. The lot was then taken, some years after the couple had purchased it, by the State by eminent domain to build "Pali High".

Initially, Melanie Griffith had auditioned for the role, taking it as an opportunity to begin a career as a mature, adult actress. After Griffith dropped out from the project, Sissy Spacek had been persuaded by husband Jack Fisk to audition for the title role. Fisk then convinced De Palma to let her audition. After several auditions, DePalma concluded that Spacek would be playing Christine Hargenson[6]. Determined to land the leading role, Spacek backed out of a television commercial she was scheduled to film,[6] rubbed Vaseline into her hair, didn't bother to wash her face, and arrived at the final audition clad in a sailor dress which her mother had made her in the seventh grade, with the hem cut off,[4] and booked the part.

Amy Irving was cast alongside her mother Priscilla Pointer, who would play the mother of Irving's character.

Nancy Allen was the last to audition, and her audition came just as she was on the verge of leaving Hollywood.[5]


Principal photography and filming began on May 17, 1976 and ended in July, with a 50-day shooting schedule. Principal location shooting occurred in California: in Culver City Studios, and in Los Angeles, the Bates High School scenes were filmed at Pier Avenue Junior High in Hermosa Beach, with the exception of the shots of the Bates High School athletic field, which were filmed at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades. The shots of the school in flames, and the gym scenes, were both filmed inside Culver City Studios.

De Palma began with one director of photography, and cameraman Isidore Mankofsky, who was eventually replaced by Mario Tosi after conflict between Mankofsky and De Palma ensued.[7] Gregory M. Auer served as the special effects supervisor for Carrie, with Jack Fisk as art director. De Palma borrowed heavily from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, which as a result, gave Carrie a Hitchcockian tone. The most obvious example is the name of the high school, which is Bates High, a reference to Norman Bates from Psycho (1960). In addition, the four note violin theme from Psycho is used throughout the film whenever Carrie uses her telekenetic powers.

Much of the filming and production became problematic, most notably the prom scene, perhaps the most chaotic to film, and took over two weeks to shoot, with 35 takes. Auer added red, green and yellow food colouring to a bulk-sold concoction known in the cosmetics industry as 7-11 Blood. However, when it was put to use, the concoction kept drying and adhering to Spacek's skin because of the hot lights. The only solution was to hose Spacek down when the substance got gluey.

A wraparound segment at beginning and end of the film was scripted and filmed which featured the Whites' home being pummeled by stones that hailed from the sky. The opening scene was filmed as planned, though on celluloid, the tiny pebbles looked like rain water.[5] A mechanical malfunction botched production the night when the model of the Whites' home was set to be destroyed, so they burned it down instead and dropped the scenes with the stones altogether.[5] However, some interior scenes had already been filmed which were left in the movie where one can clearly see boulders crashing through the Whites' ceiling.


Box office performance

Carrie initially had a limited release on November 3, 1976, opening in 409 theaters. After receiving a broader theatrical release, it grossed $5 million, and was one of the five top grossing films for the following two weeks. Its domestic gross was $33,800,000, more than 18 times its budget, which in today's money, is equivalent to $135 million.

Awards and critical reception

Carrie received immensely positive reviews and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1976.[8][9][10] The film currently holds a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[11] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated the film was an "absolutely spellbinding horror movie", as well as an "observant human portrait".[12] Pauline Kael of The New Yorker stated that Carrie was "the best scary-funny movie since Jaws — a teasing, terrifying, lyrical shocker". Take One Magazine critic Susan Schenker said she was "angry at the way Carrie manipulated me to the point where my heart was thudding, and embarrassed because the film really works."[13] A 1998 edition of The Movie Guide stated Carrie was a "landmark horror film", while Stephen Farber prophetically stated in a 1978 issue of New West Magazine, "it's a horror classic, and years from now it will still be written and argued about, and it will still be scaring the daylights out of new generations of moviegoers."[14] Quentin Tarantino placed Carrie at number 8 in a list of his favorite films ever.[15]

Nevertheless, the film was not without its detractors. Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice commented, "There are so few incidents that two extended sequences are rendered in slow-motion as if to pad out the running time..."[14]

In addition to being a box office success, Carrie is notable for being one of the few horror films to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, respectively. The film also won the grand prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, while Sissy Spacek was given the Best Actress award by the National Society of Film Critics. In 2008, Carrie was ranked number 86 on Empire Magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[16]This movie also ranked number 15 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies, and #46 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Greatest Cinema Thrills, and was also ranked eighth for its famous ending sequence on Bravo's five-hour miniseries The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004).[17] They Shoot Pictures, a filmsite that is in contact with film critics all over the world, lists Carrie as 348th on their current list of the one thousand greatest pictures ever made.[18]


The score for Carrie was composed by Pino Donaggio. In addition, two pop songs ("Born To Have It All" and "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me") were written for the early portion of the prom sequence and were performed by Katie Irving, sister of star Amy Irving. Donaggio would work again with De Palma on Dressed to Kill, Home Movies, Blow Out, Body Double, and Raising Cain.

The soundtrack was originally released on vinyl in 1976 under the United Artists label; a deluxe CD edition containing a few tracks of dialogue from the film was released by MGM/Rykodisc in 1997. A 2005 CD re-release of the original soundtrack (minus dialogue) is available from Varèse Sarabande. Portions of the film's score were omitted from all versions of the soundtrack album, most notably the piece of music that plays while the girls are in detention. Additionally, the other songs in the film (Education Blues by Vance or Towers, (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave by Martha and the Vandellas, etc.) were uncredited in the film and were omitted from the album. A bootleg version of the complete score has circulated on the internet.

Sequels, remakes and related works

Carrie, along with the novel, have been reproduced and adapted several times.


A significantly derided, much-belated sequel was The Rage: Carrie 2, released in 1999. It featured another teenager with telekinetic powers who is eventually revealed to have shared a father with Carrie White.


In 2002, a TV movie remake starring Angela Bettis in the titular role was released. The film updated the events of the story to modern-day settings and technology while simultaneously attempting to be more faithful to the book's original structure, storyline, and specific events. The one exception to the latter was that the ending of Carrie in the remake was drastically changed: instead of killing her mother and then herself, the film has Carrie killing her mother, being revived via CPR by Sue Snell and being driven to Florida to hide. This new ending marked a complete divergence from the novel and was a signal that the movie served as a pilot for a Carrie television series, which never materialized. In the new ending, the rescued Carrie vows to help others with similar gifts to her own. Although Angela Bettis' portrayal of Carrie was highly praised, the remade film was ultimately panned by most critics,[19] who cited it as inferior to the original.

Stage productions

A 1988 Broadway musical, also titled Carrie and starring Betty Buckley, Linzi Hateley and Darlene Love, closed after only 16 previews and five performances. An English pop opera filtered through Greek tragedy, the show was so notorious that it provided the title to Ken Mandelbaum's survey of theatrical disasters, Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops. Clips of the musical may be found on YouTube.

Early in the 21st century, playwright Erik Jackson attempted to secure the rights to stage another production of Carrie the musical, but his request was rejected. Jackson eventually earned the consent of Stephen King[20] to mount a new, officially-sanctioned, non-musical production of Carrie, which debuted Off-Broadway in 2006 with female impersonator Sherry Vine in the lead role[21]. Similarly, many other unofficial spoofs have been staged over the years, usually with a gym teacher named "Miss Collins" (as opposed to the novel's "Miss Desjardin" and the musical's "Miss Gardner"), most notably the "parodage" Scarrie the Musical[22], which hit the Illinois stage in 1998 and was revived in 2005; Dad's Garage Theatre's 2002 production of Carrie White the Musical[23]; and the 2007 New Orleans production of Carrie's Facts of Life[24], which was a hybrid of Carrie and the classic American sitcom The Facts of Life.


The movie has been spoofed countless times in other films and television programs. Some of the most notable:

Zapped!, a 1982 film starring Scott Baio in which he uses his telekinetic powers to rip the clothes off of his peers at the prom.

Superstar, in which a Carrie-obsessed Molly Shannon is doused with blue paint in front of the entire student body.

Another Gay Movie which features an homage with a man in drag showered by a bucket of semen.

Student Bodies, in which they spoof the arm-from-the-grave sequence.

The episode "Love Disconnection - The Amazing Three" of Tiny Toon Adventures in which Shirley the Loon is splashed with red punch.

And an episode of Ugly Betty titled Petra-Gate in which Betty stages an "anti-prom" that concludes with her being doused in pig's blood.

In a scene from Episode 118 of the Anime series Urusei Yatsura, the principal female protagonist Lum Invader in a white dress, lays a bouquet of flowers at a gravestone and a hand pops out of the ground and grabs her. Angered, she electrocutes the hand!

Also in one opening of Lil' Bush, Lil' Condi is elected prom queen, and blood from Tiny Kucinich, having been killed by Lil' Cheney, is dumped on her.

Another spoof can be found in the American Dad! episode It's Good To Be Queen where Stan reflects on his own prom nightmare where the popular kids dump live pigs on Stan, after having not read the word "blood" in the original text.

In the Channel 4 comedy television series The IT Crowd, the character of Moss completely misunderstands Jen's euphemisms for a period until Roy says "First scene in Carrie!". He then becomes extremely uncomfortable.

Also, in the 1995 TV film She Fought Alone during the "initiation" type-party at the beginning, the film's main character is dressed up as a prom queen and has a bucket of what is later determined to be raspberry jelly dumped on her.

On "That 70's Show", as Hyde leaves for the prom, his mother calls out "They're all going to laugh at you!", echoing Carrie's mother in the film.

In the episode "Reunion" of NBC's "30 Rock" some of Liz Lemon's old classmates plan to "Carrie" her on stage as revenge for her being mean to them, but is stopped by Jack saying "we cannot "Carrie" Liz Lemon" The bucket of blood is dumped, but misses her entirley.

Influence on other films

The film was quickly followed by a wave of copycats and imitators. Though Carrie is more melodramatic than traditional horror films, its biggest influence was on the slasher genre that exploded in popularity shortly after the release of the film. The final scare (in this instance, a hand bursting from the grave) was rarely seen until this point, and soon most slasher films incorporated this tactic. Films like the Friday the 13th series have been accused of ripping off Carrie's ending, because each feature finales where a hand bursts out of a strange location and grabs something. Another film of that series, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, released in 1988, featured a telekinetic protagonist, similar to Carrie.

Other films lifted the character layout and storyline more blatantly and featured teens who were humiliated seeking revenge, often with the aid of some sort of supernatural power. Amongst the most notable are: Jennifer, in which the titular character (Lisa Pelikan) unleashes her wrath on her peers by exerting her telepathic control over snakes; Mirror Mirror, in which a girl taps into an evil force that resides in her mirror; The Initiation of Sarah, a 1978 movie of the week in which the titular character (Kay Lenz) gets revenge on a rival sorority member (Morgan Fairchild); Slaughter High, in which a young man is horribly burned as a result of his classmates' prank; Evilspeak, in which Clint Howard taps into the powers of Satan through his computer; and Jawbreaker, which featured an ugly duckling plot, a humiliating prom sequence, a pig's blood reference and three cast members from Carrie films (William Katt, P. J. Soles, Charlotte Ayanna) portraying the Purr family.


  1. ^ Carrie at Box Office Mojo; last accessed 2007-05-27.
  2. ^ Carrie at Rotten Tomatoes; last accessed 2007-05-27
  3. ^ Blogcritics Review: Carrie
  4. ^ a b Brian De Palma interview (July 1977); accessed 27 May 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e Carrie DVD featurette ("visualising Carrie"). United Artists. 2002. 
  6. ^ a b Carrie DVD featurette ("Acting Carrie"). United Artists. 2002. 
  7. ^ Brian De; accessed 2007-05-27.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger. Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times) Review of Carrie (1976); accessed 2007-05-27.
  13. ^ Take One Magazine, January 1977 at Carrie... A Fan's Site)
  14. ^ a b "Pundits Page". Take One Magazine, p.57. March 1997. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments". Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  18. ^ "The 1,000 Greatest Films By Ranking (301-400)". Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  19. ^ "TV Reviews: "Carrie"". Internet Movie Database. 2002-11-04. 
  20. ^ "Eric Jackson Interview". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  21. ^ "New York Times Theater Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  22. ^ "Hell in a Handbag's Scarrie site". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  23. ^ "Sci-Fi Dimensions Review". scifidimensions. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  24. ^ "Carrie's Facts of Life - Official Site". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 

External links

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