For many people, high school is nothing short of a horror movie. We experience bullying, kilos of mental anguish, and to top it off our bodies begin to do some really weird crap. We get a bit taller, we get hair in places we never have before, and we become these walking mutants that are half adult and half child. High school and puberty can be so terrible and scarring, why not format a horror film around such a universal fear?
Adapted from Stephen King‘s debut novel, Carrie is a story about what happens when the pressures of high school and puberty go too far. The titular Carrie is a homely loner who lives with her religiously zealous mother. She’s consistently bullied by the popular girls and their meathead boyfriends. What they don’t know, and what Carrie soon comes to discover, is that Carrie possesses powerful telekinetic abilities. One ill conceived prank later, and all the trauma Carrie has endured over the course of her life ignites a powder keg of horror that sees Carrie taking revenge on those who wronged her.
The acting is a bit of a mixed bag across the board, with main cast members such as Sissy Spacek as Carrie, Piper Laurie as Margaret White and Betty Buckley as Miss Collins turning in some great performances. Spacek‘s portrayal of Carrie White is both depressing and mesmerizing. After watching her get ridiculed and ignored through most of the film, she’s easy to get behind and want to see take revenge on her bullies. When she does, however, the line between being an innocent girl and a force of nature begins to blur. Piper Laurie, who portrays Carrie’s mother, is an absolute nut and a very easy to hate antagonist. She constantly attempts to hide the real world from her daughter, going so far as to lock her in a closet when she “goes against God”. Her performance is over the top, yet has enough familiarity to it to make it believable. Spacek and Laurie were so good that they both received Academy Award nominations for their performances, a rare moment in Academy history were they actual acknowledge horror films existing.
Where the acting severely lacks is the side characters, namely many of the high schoolers. Outside of maybe Sue and Tommy, the rest of the cast is mainly annoying caricatures of typical high school archetypes, such as your jocks and popular girls. Their performances are pretty hammy and definitely products of their time. They’re fun to joke about, but they’re leagues behind the main casts’ performances. I also always forget John Travolta is in this, continuing to make me wonder if he’s ever turned in a halfway decent performance.
This is really a 70s film, and a lot of that shows in its cinematography and its *ahem* gratuitous shots. While some scenes are beautiful and iconic in their own right, such as the prom night, others are a bit more questionable. There’s a ton of shots dedicated to sexualizing some of the high school girls with no real reason outside of it just being a thing they did back then. But where, say, Friday the 13th sexualizes their characters because it plays into the plot and motive of the film, it just feels awkward here. Like many of the side character’s performances, it’s a product of the time period and something that most likely won’t keep you from enjoying the film. Complementing the film is a fluttering, haunting score that really accentuates moments where talking isn’t necessary to convey the plot.
The climax is still the money moment of the film, and while it does have some goofiness sprinkled in, I still think it’s one of the greatest scenes in horror history. Everything from the lighting change, to the dramatic cuts and hell, even the split screens just worked for me. Its well choreographed chaos all conducted by a wide-eyed Carrie. The scene is so iconic and entertaining that the distributors didn’t even mind spoiling it in the trailers. It’s even featured on many of the film posters and DVD covers. It’s the scene everyone remembers. More than just a special effects spectacle, it’s also a pivotal moment in the narrative. I found myself really invested in Carrie’s journey towards having just one normal night among her peers, and it makes the entire prom fiasco all the more depressing, both for her and for those who were genuinely trying to do the right thing.
A good example of becoming a horror classic without jump scares and graphic gore, Carrie paved the way for many more narrative driven horror films that sought to utilize the genre to tell a compelling story. While age hasn’t been thoroughly kind to this one, it’s still a legendary piece of cinema and one of the best adaptations of King‘s work.
Now, as I said in my It review, about that Maximum Overdrive remake…
Prom Night Pig Blood
High school is volatile enough, even without buckets of pigs’ blood and telekinetic meltdowns. Prom night is supposed to be a magical night, teeming with unbridled testosterone and sneaked-in flasks. It’s supposed to be a celebration, but for Carrie, it was the beginning of the end. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the good and the bad that night brings, wrapped into a single simple cocktail.
Prom Night Pig Blood is a cross between a mimosa and a spritz, made with dark blood orange juice and a bitter, red Aperol. Topped off with your favorite champagne and rimmed with sugar, you’ll feel like the queen of the ball after a few of these. I wouldn’t advise having this pigs blood poured on you, however, as its a lot harder to get out of clothes than real blood. Don’t ask me how I know that.
- 2 oz (1.4 shot) fresh blood orange juice
- 1 oz (.75 shot) Aperol or similar aperitif
- Granulated sugar
- Champagne, Prosecco, or other sparkling white wine (chilled)
- Wet the rim of a champagne glass with the blood orange, then coat the rim with sugar.
- Pour in blood orange and Campari.
- Top with champagne.