Somewhat prescient of both the impact of bullying and the dangers of school rampages, Carrie is the story of a high school outcast with a supernatural power. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is an introverted high school girl who gets no relief from either school at home. When she gets her first period in the school shower, the other girls all taunt her and pelt her with tampons and towels. At home, her mother Margaret White (Piper Laurie) is a religious fanatic who sees sin everywhere and locks Carrie in a dark closet to pray. Carrie also has a power: When she gets emotional, she can move things with her mind.
Unfortunately, even the folks trying to help Carrie seem to hurt her. Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) is the only teacher who wants to help Carrie, so she punishes the girls involved in the hazing. Sue Snell (Amy Irving) feels bad for what she did, so she has her boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) ask Carrie to the prom. By contrast, the girls' leader Chris (Nancy Allen) is banned from the prom, so she and her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) plan their revenge against Carrie at the prom. And with Carrie's ability manifesting itself when she's angry, things will not end well...
Carrie works on just about every level. The acting is superb -- Spacek and Laurie got Academy Award nominations for this movie -- and the story moves at a quick pace, combining the humor and cruelty of high school and family. Director Brian De Palma used many different ways of filming here -- split screen, slow motion -- and never overdoes any of them. The dialogue is sharp and very quotable ("They're all going to laugh at you!") and this movie has numerous memorable scenes, from the prom inferno to the final dreamlike ending (which has been copied in most horror movies that followed).
For extras, the Carrie dvd did it right. The director, screenwriter, and almost all of the movie's stars (except Travolta) are brought together to discuss everything from trying out for the movie (many auditioned for Carrie and Star Wars at the same time) to what it was like shooting the movie. Betty Buckley also discusses her brief role in the the Broadway musical adaption. There's also text from Stephen King about the movie; I'd have preferred it if he'd shown up to talk about the movie instead of just writing, but it's still informative.
Carrie is everything a horror movie should be: scary, funny, well acted, socially relevant, and memorable.
Overall grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch