Review: Carrie (1976)

carrie 1976 poster

“It has nothing to do with Satan, Mama. It’s me. Me. If I concentrate hard enough, I can move things.”
– Carrie White

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is just your typical girl at school – the one way at the bottom of the food chain, the lowest in the pecking order. After a physical education class, Carrie begins her first menstruation cycle ever. While the other girls rapidly jump onto the bandwagon of mocking her and teasing her, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) puts an end to it and helps Carrie. Sent home, Carrie confronts her mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie), about not having told her it was coming, and her mother reacts in anger and locks her in her prayer closet.

carrie 1976 mom prays for her sins

“We’ll pray. We’ll pray. We’ll pray for the last time. We’ll pray.” – Margaret White

Carrie is dealing with difficult things at home. The rest of the girls are informed by Miss Collins that they are to sit detention for a week for what they did to Carrie if they still wish to attend Prom. Naturally, Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) refuses point blank, which leads to terrible arguments between herself and Miss Collins. Sue Snell (Amy Irving) is being eaten by guilt over what they did to Carrie, and asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) to ask Carrie to the Prom as some form of penance. Initially he refuses, but later he relents. She relinquishes and finally agrees to go, allowing herself to get a little excited.

Miss Collins is worried that Tommy is taking her as some part of a degrading joke. Chris enlists the help of her delinquent boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) to belittle Carrie with a truly awful prank. What they don’t know, however, is that Carrie White is telekinetic, and has been practising the skill to master it some way or the other. Carrie is tired of being the butt of all jokes; she is exhausted from the constant mockery. She is intent on having a night of normality, something to look forward to and remember forevermore when it is over.

carrie bloody 1976

“It was bad, Mama. They laughed at me.” – Carrie White

Will the dream night go according to plan for Carrie? Will Chris go through with her truly awful stunt to embarrass and ridicule Carrie publicly for the last time? If Chris manages to trick Carrie, what will the repercussions be for taunting a telekinetic and unstable young teenage girl?

Carrie receives a 5/10. While I am not completely sure why so much had to be altered from the book (seeing as it was so damn short), it was not a great film, it was definitely not worth the praise that it received. I was impressed in places and then others I was horrified by the blatant changes. I enjoyed John Travolta in his role as the horrible Billy Nolan, he seemed to be alright. I was not impressed with how Tommy Ross was portrayed as some popular jock that had no understanding with what happened with Carrie and upset of being asked to go with her in a sense. In the books he was far more socially conscious of other people than the movie shows. It was like they fluctuated between him being nice and the other side not, though they got him down pat at the prom. I am not sure why so much was changed at the end, and it took the whole “horror” aspect out of it a bit for me, to be honest. It was rushed. The whole story built up for terror, and it was altered and ended far too quickly, which was very much a let-down for me. Sissy Spacek was fantastically cast as Carrie, and managed to bring her character through so vividly. I felt for her, truly I did. What a sad, sweet girl. It isn’t dreadful; it is just that they seemed to miss the core point of Carrie’s story here.

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17 thoughts on “Review: Carrie (1976)

    • Zoë says:

      Thank you Chris! That is exactly what this movie felt like. There were some excellent performances though, it just missed out on the scary. I am looking forward to seeing what the remake brings!

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  1. Nish says:

    I love the book but haven’t seen the movie. I have seen only that photo of Sissy Spacek with the blood all over her and it’s a very powerful shot. It’s sad that they had to alter the book for the movie though. In my mind, it’s a pretty straight-forward book to film.

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    • Zoë says:

      The book really was lovely! Sissy Spacek was brilliant in her role as Carrie, and got her character down so well. I agree, I thought it would be a very simple book to take through to film, but apparently it wasn’t. I am hoping for a better execution of it for the remake, so we will see.

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      • Nish says:

        @Zoe: There’s another remake? That’s interesting. Would be great to see Carrie, I think if Spacek is as good as you say, then those are hard shoes to fill

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      • Zoë says:

        Yes, there is a remake coming in October starring Julianne Moore and Chloë Moretz. Spacek was great, so I would love to see how Moretz stacks up next to her, but honestly, I am just hoping for a more accurate outing than this one was. You should check it out anyhow though!

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  2. theipc says:

    I saw this once when I was a kid and I wasn’t too impressed. Are you going to see the new one? I know you said you were hoping for better execution. I’m actually not very excited about it and I am a big Moretz fan. Hit Girl forever!

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  3. Ryan says:

    The remake is supposedly much more faithful to the novel than this one which is why I have hope for the remake. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!

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      • Ryan says:

        A while back when the remake was first announced they mentioned that there were going to be some found-footage elements to the film so I wonder if that will play into the way the novel was told through various interviews.

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