I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Carrie

carryoncarrie
I also considered “CARRIED AWAY!”

tn_carrie76When one of us says “Carrie,” I bet we all think of the same thing: Brian DePalma’s iconic 1976 film, an American classic. It’s the first and still-second-best movie based on a Stephen King book, so of course we could also be talking about that 1974 novel (the fourth that King wrote, but first he got published). Or we could be talking about the 2002 made-for-TV version, or the 2013 remake, or I suppose the 1952 William Wyler movie which in my opinion is not based on King’s book. Anyway this week I’d like to take a look at the different incarnations of King’s story. (Not the failed Broadway musical though. I never saw it.)

I’m assuming I don’t have to tell you the story. And then I’m telling you the story just in case. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek, PRIME CUT) is a shy, awkward girl who already doesn’t fit in at her high school before she has her first ever period in the locker room shower after gym class and thinks she’s bleeding to death, much to the amusement of all her classmates. Yeah, thanks for the heads up on that menstruation stuff, abusive and mentally ill Christian fundamentalist mother (Piper Laurie, RETURN TO OZ, THE FACULTY).

The other girls get in trouble from their gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley, THE HAPPENING) for pelting Carrie with tampons and chanting at her. One of the girls, Sue Snell (Amy Irving, THE FURY) feels guilty about it and convinces her greatest-American-boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt, SUPER) to take Carrie to the prom and show her a good time. Another girl, Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen, ROBOCOP), goes the other route, she’s not allowed to go to the prom, and plans a cruel prank to avenge Carrie. Meanwhile, womanhood has unlocked in Carrie a freak power to control objects with her mind. So if she gets humiliated again, perhaps on stage at the prom to name one possible scenario, she’s not gonna cower in fear this time. There will be Hell to pay.

Until I read the book recently I’m not sure it ever occurred to me to think of CARRIE in terms of school shootings. But of course that’s what it is – a person is being picked on, or thinks they’re being picked on, and decides to lash out by attacking everybody in the school, everyone they come across. Like most school shooters Carrie doesn’t survive. And what would she do if she did? Go on the run? Carrie could never take care of herself, much less live with the guilt of what she did.

(By the way, this is not the time to politicize this tragedy and use it as an excuse to take everybody’s telekinesis away. It is the right of all American citizens such as children, the mentally ill and the profoundly irresponsible to have complete and instant access to any deadly weapons or magic powers that they think are cool. The only way to stop a bad Carrie is with a good Carrie.)

mp_carrie76In the ’70s it was a little different, because horrendous school massacres weren’t the routine part of daily American living that we enjoy today, so your mind didn’t really go there. An underdog getting revenge against bullies was a safe fantasy. And maybe why the story continues to get a pass to this day is that it’s a girl doing it. I never heard of a girl or woman doing a mass shooting spree other than that terrorist one recently. I don’t know why, but they just don’t do that shit. Pat yourselves on the back for that, ladies. And that helps CARRIE from seeming like it hits too close to home.

But another reason I think we don’t mind is because Spacek in the movie is just so sympathetic, you become so attached to her that it’s real hard to get around to seeing her as the bad guy. She reminds you of your own youthful insecurities and humiliations, or makes you glad you didn’t have to deal with the same ones.

Listen – keep this between you and me, because it might further damage my enigmatic aura, but I’m gonna tell you a True Tale of Physical Education. Growing up I was neither a popular kid or a total outcast. I thought I was some kind of rebellious weirdo, I got called my fair share of homophobic slurs and received a few false accusations, including a charge of promoting satanism (long story). But I was never as out of place as Carrie.

I am not a sports guy today, but as a little kid I played basketball and soccer. The teams I was on went undefeated every season, but I was always one of the worst players. (I put a little bit of that into my book Niketown). In middle school I was on the wrestling team for a year. I only won one match but it was at the end, so I got a “Most Improved” award. When I didn’t come back the next year the coach actually came to make and spoke the words “I’ve noticed you’ve been running with a bad crowd.” You can’t quit now. You were most improved!

So by the time of high school P.E. class I definitively a non-athlete. I remember one year the teacher had this trick of dividing the class into “varsity” and “junior varsity” so he could spend most of his time with the better athletes on the “varsity” side. The way he did it was basically to have most of the boys on varsity, plus a couple token girls, and then most of the girls over on the other court. Guess who was one of the token boys over there? (Me.) I mean that’s pretty cool except I had a thing for one of the girls that was one of the quota-fillers in the boys game.

So one day one of the boys is absent, and they need another player for the varsity game, so the teacher moves me up. I think since I had played when I was younger I didn’t embarrass myself in the game. But what I remember is this girl I had the crush on, trying to be nice, congratulating me. Congratulations for getting to be temporarily on the boys team because some dude has the flu.

My point is, I may talk alot of shit, but I know the pain of nerd-dom. We all have our moments. That’s why we all side with Carrie White.

Carrie’s moments are way worse. When the movie opens on her playing volleyball in P.E., not knowing how to hit the ball, and standing there looking stupid as Chris tells her to eat shit, that’s not me exactly, but I know that feeling in my gut. Most of us do. Turning the blu-ray on this time I don’t know why, but I was afraid it was gonna be too painful to watch. That opening is so harsh.

Thank God I can’t relate that way to the famous inciting incident in the locker room. DePalma teases us by shooting her shower in loving softcore slo-mo before her body (she thinks) revolts against her and the whole locker room reverts to mean girl heather lord of the flies mob mentality.

I guess it’s not all audience-torment, though. To me it’s dryly humorous that while Miss Collins chews out the girls in detention DePalma has a janitor trying to clean off graffiti that says “Carrie White eats shit.” An extra act of childish bullying that happened off screen and is relegated to the background.

Spacek is incredible in the role, a contorted, saucer-eyed alien of a girl, hunched over with her hair in her eyes but like she just doesn’t know how to look, not like she’s trying to be a loner. When she blurts out that Tommy’s (plagiarized) poem is “beautiful” in English class and is callously taunted for it by her smartass teacher it’s the kind of clueless sincerity that makes her endearing. Then when we see her at home trying to stand up to her legitimately crazy mother who locks her in a closet and makes her pray away tiny, imagined infractions, we can’t help but be on her side.

I mean, can you imagine Margaret White ever having a conversation that doesn’t involve any fire and/or brimstone? Like, “Nice weather we’re having today” or “Hey, that sweater looks great on you” or “boy I could really go for a Snickers bar right now”? No, of course not. Would never happen. One track mind. Total Jesus nerd.

(By the way, Spacek and Laurie both received well-deserved Oscar nominations for their performances. They lost to Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight in NETWORK.)

As we watch CARRIE we all know it’s headed for tragedy. Not just because we’ve watched it a million times, or know its reputation from pop culture, but because DePalma wrings out the suspense. He puts the bucket of blood in the rafters early and marches us toward it, sometimes literally in slow motion. Still, there’s something nice about the way Carrie’s date with Tommy really is a reprieve from her miserable life, a last chance at a normal teen experience she never expected to have. We know that Tommy really is a sweet boy. He’s doing it for Sue, but he’s doing it in good faith. He’s being genuinely nice, and they’re both enjoying their time together, and we’re enjoying watching them be happy. One last time.

Another thing that makes you connect to Carrie: the music. The songs played at the prom, which speak to what she’s going through, have just the right aching sentimentality to tap into those heightened teenage emotions. There are a couple scenes with goofy Moog jams as the boys pick out tuxes and stuff, but otherwise the score by Pino Donaggio (DON’T LOOK NOW, SEED OF CHUCKY) is beautiful and operatic. Sure, you got your creepy cues, your Bernard Herrmann PSYCHO violin stings to represent telekinesis, but then you got a beautiful piece of music like the main theme:

or especially the end credits:

that really amplify the emotions.

That’s not all about horror. Some of it is melancholy. It’s not telling you how to feel, it’s telling you how Carrie feels.

And hey, let’s raise a glass to Sue Snell. Now there’s a tragic figure who never commits mass murder. She’s great because she’s not a total innocent. She’s involved in the initial taunting of Carrie. She even breaks the dispenser open to supply the hygiene products for everyone to throw at her. She’s like the Mookie-throwing-the-garbage-can-through-the-window of this particular riot. But she’s immediately ashamed of herself. You can see it as soon as Miss Collins lectures them. And right away she comes up with her plan to get Carrie to the prom. Chris plans revenge, Sue plans redemption.

I like the way DePalma contrasts the two popular couples. Sue asks Tommy to do something nice for Carrie, and her way of withholding from him until he agrees is to concentrate on her homework and not really talk to him. Chris, on the other hand, asks her boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) to do something cruel to Carrie, so they argue and slap each other and she teases him and blows him to get him to agree. The nice girl’s boyfriend picks out a tux and tries to charm Carrie, the mean girl’s has to break into a farm, bash a pig’s head open and drain its blood into a bucket for later.

Miss Collins thinks the prom date is a trick at first. So does Carrie. But it’s a sincere attempt at kindness. While Chris hides under the stage licking her lips lustily at the prospect of Carrie’s further humiliation, Sue hides around the back of the stage, equally excited to see her good deed in action. She shows up just too late to stop the blood from dumping. When Miss Collins notices her there she assumes she’s up to no good. I think we can guess that Carrie believed Tommy and Sue had set her up for this, or if not that Sue will go to her grave afraid that she did.

In the book it’s a little different. Sue is not at the prom, but comes and finds Carrie outside later, partly through telepathy and partly by following a trail of blood. Carrie is near death and does blame Sue, but then she’s able to see into her thoughts, good and bad. Since Sue’s motives really are pure this must give them both some comfort. On the other hand, way more people die in the book, and the whole town is destroyed, so clearly Sue is gonna be traumatized for life. She ends up writing a book to tell her side of the story and combat conspiracy theorists who say Tommy was in on it. But at least she knows she tried, and she knows Carrie knows.

In the movie the famous Ending That Inspired a Thousand Jump Scares indicates that poor, well-meaning Sue may spend the rest of her life haunted by guilt and horrible nightmares. She lost her boyfriend and her friends and now she worries that the girl she tried to help will come back to avenge her. No good deed goes unpunished. It’s famous for that scare there, but the real impact cuts deeper. It’s devastating.

In my opinion this is one of the movies that is a good movie. Just my two ¢ (cents).

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 11th, 2016 at 10:53 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

33 Responses to “Carrie”

  1. Terrific piece, Vern, on a movie that still manages to give me the willies after umpteenth viewings. As I said when I reviewed the remake (ugh, with the jazz hands), De Palma’s use of the split-screen during the prom is just genius, as it manages to show both the rawboned vulnerability of Spacek, and the horrifyingly indiscriminate force of her retaliation.

  2. When I was in school, I was the kind of unpopular kid, that the popular kids didn’t mind talking to (except for the popular asshole kids, of course). But I also had all kinds of weird rumors about me circulating, including I would wash my hair with a wet washrag and yes, worshipping satan. The funny thing about these rumors, is that most of them came from me, giving stupid answers to stupid questions. I guess the kids in my school have never heard of straight faced sarcasm.

  3. So wonderful. Spacek’s performance is one of my all-time favorites. She was in her mid-20s when the movie was made, and she plays the perfect awkward teenager. I’ve seen this so many times, and the final jump scare *still* gets me.

  4. I hope its OK that I bring up another King movie about powerful minds. Firestarter is a seriously entertaining flick and it works like a proto X-Men movie (and is better than at least one of them). The white Keith David as the father is awesome, especially when he blinds all the agents, one eyed George C.Scott is doing what he thinks needs to be done for the country, and the real tragedy is little Drew who can’t even begin to grasp her feelings and powers. And the pyrotechnics were pretty killer too

  5. THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. Don’t disappoint us, Vern.

  6. Just want to throw a few things out there:

    1) Horror genre all-star P.J. Soles, ladies and gentlemen

    2) Will Katt Shea’s belated Carrie sequel be covered in this series of reviews?

    3) Would you rather see the next filmed iteration of Carrie go the found-footage route so as to better emulate the novel’s structure/POVs, or will it go ‘the only way to stop a bad Carrie is with a good Carrie’ direction? (Extra credit: Would The Dead Zone’s Johnny Smith constitute a ‘good Carrie’? Firestarter’s Charlie McGee?)

  7. I really want to hear the Satanism story.

  8. The Original Paul

    April 11th, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    This was a movie that I “got into” around about the time that I decided that atheism was where I felt most comfortable, philosophically-speaking. Carrie’s mom remains one of my all-time favorite movie villains. My interpritation of her has always been that she’s the devil (the movie makes this pretty clear, even if it never actually says so outright) but she doesn’t know it. She’s a genuine believer in everything she says. At a time when most movie devils are middle-aged guys with stern, cold, distant, remorseless dogmatism (think Sam Neill, Gabriel Byrne, Al Pacino, etc) this version of the devil is a helluva lot scarier just because she’s so mundane and homely. She might be the crazy lady who lives down the street and shoots at the neighbourhood cats with an air-rifle. (Yes, sadly we had one of those.)

    This isn’t my favorite DePalma film (that title will probably remain with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE for a long, long time) but it might very well be the best one.

  9. Love this movie. A few thoughts.

    1) Teen Movie All-Star P.J. Soles is not just a troublemaking teen in this movie but also in “Breaking Away” – she’s the one who rats out Dennis Cristopher for serenading Katarina! God bless her.

    2) Since you brought up the scene where Sue Snell is doing homework while Tommy watches TV, Vern, I think it’s worth pointing out that this is one of the more elegant touches in Cohen’s adaptation. First he includes the scene where Carrie likes Tommy’s poem. Then there’s the scene where Tommy watches TV while Sue does homework. And lastly (at the Prom) Tommy admits that he didn’t write the poem. To me the implication there is that Sue wrote Tommy’s poem, because she does his homework for him. The movie doesn’t shove it in your face, just presents enough clues for you to put it together yourself if you want. I think that’s pretty neat.

  10. Does the Shawshank Redemption count as a Stephen King book adaptation? I’m getting off subject. Carrie is definitely underrated. It works as a horror/thriller genre picture, but it’s also got the heart and psychology to it, which Vern expertly went through in his review, so that it’s more than just a good genre picture. All credit to the performances and the mastery of Brian DePalma, which help it hold up better than say, the still enjoyable, Pet Sematary or It. Blow Out remains my favorite De Palma movie, but every time I re-watch Carrie it always seems to creep higher and higher up the list. It’s a movie that I could relate to and get sucked into as a teenager, and it does the same things but with a different pov from me now as an adult.

    BTW, props to Vern! I probably wouldn’t have seen Prime Cut without this site and reading his review. It’s definitely worth a watch, and holds up really well, particularly since it’s been released with some better transfers and in non-pan and scan formats! Lee Marvin as a Chicago mob enforcer going out to the sticks to lean on and ultimately square off against Gene Hackman’s rural criminal racket? Essential badass cinema with a nice bonus of unexpected craft and style to the film-making.

  11. This is pretty much my favourite horror movie, as well as the greatest teen movie of them all.

    In high school, I was more freak than geek, but owned it in a way where nobody fucked with me. I was able to infiltrate popular kid social circles, who in return probably didn’t understand why I often hung out with unpopular kids. Even though I was accepted by my peers, there was a side of me that felt like an outcast.

    I always really felt for kids who were like Carrie. God, this movie is so tragic and infuriating.

  12. The Original... Paul

    April 11th, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    It’s up there with HEATHERS as one of my all-time favorite teen movies.

  13. Weird. I was also accused of being a satanist in school. Of course, it was in a tiny southern town where anything that isn’t Christian equals satanism, so I can’t be that surprised. Even years later in high school, when I was trading punk tapes with a fellow miscreant, he asked if I wanted to buy a black bible. I was like, “Jesus, I don’t want to buy any bibles, that’s the point. Don’t you people get it?” They never did.

    I guess labeling outsiders as satanists was more common than I thought.

  14. Oh SNAAAAAAP!— I’m diggin’ all you secret Satanists poking your heads out of the infernal closet. As it stands, I myself have no “We had to permanently silence Aunt Trudy after she interrupted our goat slaying” stories.

    Paul— I respectfully disagree about your interpretation of Margaret White as the devil. That she’s a full-blown nutjob goes without saying, but when you combine that with religious fervor, the behavior of the individual in question is probably gonna stray mightily from the tenets of [in this case] Christianity. In her mind and heart, she thinks and feels she’s doing the right thing by repressing Carrie, which in the end backfires big time.

    Good review, Vern. When you wrote that “DePalma has a janitor trying to clean off graffiti that says Carrie White eats shit”, for a moment I thought you meant that DePalma made a cameo appearance as the janitor (which would’ve been cool). Go figure.

    I especially liked the punk brat who taunts Spacek with the catcall “Creepy Carrie, creepy Carrie!”, and then she telekinetically knocks the little fucker off his bike and he starts bawling. Served you right, junior. How I wished he’d done the exact same thing at the end of the movie, riding by Carrie as she’s walking home in her blood-drenched prom dress, only then she would merely regard him with an “Aw, fuckit” look of resignation and do nothing.

  15. The Original... Paul

    April 11th, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Larry – I don’t think we’re disagreeing much. My “devil” thing comes specifically from the fact that the picture of what seems to be Satan on Mrs White’s wall shows him impaled in precisely the same way as Carrie eventually kills her mother. And you’d expect someone who’s actually the devil but doesn’t know it to have some pretty serious Christian hangups, right? I also think it’s strongly hinted that Carrie’s source of power is her mother. Which points to the mother as something a lot more sinister than just a crazy old lady.

    Here’s the weirdest comparison you’ll hear today… Piper Laurie as Mrs White is, in terms of ignorant evil, what Dougray Scott as Detective Walsh is in TWIN TOWN. Obviously they’re very, very different characters, but what they have in common is that they’re both genuinely clueless about just how bad they are. In Terry Walsh’s case, it’s that he’s “in deep” and too damn incompetent to get out of it. He’s a violent amoral sociopath, so he keeps doing worse and worse things to extricate himself from this situation; and since he’s utterly incompetent, none of them work, and as a result he has to keep doing even more awful stuff. I don’t think he shows an ounce of remorse or self-reflection. And in Mrs White’s case, of course, it’s that she’s (in my opinion) the devil, and keeps doing terrible things to her daughter while under the delusion that she’s helping her in some way.

    I think it’s fascinating because characters like Terry Walsh and Mrs White are so few and far between. The vast majority of villains you see on film are either streetwise thugs or criminal masterminds. At the very end of the “usual” villain spectrum you get figures like Michael Douglas’ character in FALLING DOWN, who’s wrecked his family but still considers himself justified in what he’s doing, and reacts with genuine surprise when he gets called the “bad guy” at the end. But even this guy shows more surprise at how he’s perceived by others than at anything else. He has some idea that his actions are outside of the norm and probably won’t be tolerated. Terry Walsh and Mrs White take this a lot further, in that they’re both on completely self-destructive paths, yet both of them lack any kind of ability to see that that’s the case. They are both utterly clueless, and remain that way until their deaths.

    That’s why both of their characters are so scary to me, and I’m guessing that Walsh (at least) is probably a scary figure to a lot of Americans right now. A corrupt cop is a corrupt cop, but at least he’s got some restraint. And the “criminal mastermind” police officer is for the most part a fantasy – they’ve existed, but they’re incredibly rare in real life. An amoral violent sociopath with a police badge, who can do whatever he wants without consequence and doesn’t have the commonsense or judgement to stop or avoid collateral damage on the other hand… something about this feels a lot more believable. Same thing with Mrs White. For the most part, evil satanic cults are the product of paranoid imaginations. It’s something that you can watch a movie about and come away feeling happy because you know that the people down the road aren’t sacrificing virgins on an alter. But an abusive parent who genuinely believes that she’s saving her daughter’s soul through her actions? That’s somebody who’s existed, who might live down the road from you, and you might not know it.

    I know I’ve said this many times before, but I’ll say it once more here: the greatest horror, in my opinion, isn’t rats or snakes or bears or aliens. The most horrifying thing is when the familiar thing, the thing you take for granted, suddenly turns out to be hostile or alien in some way. That’s why the likes of Mrs White and Terry Walsh are such frightening villains. As “extreme” as both of those characters are, they’re not unrealistically so. Nobody fears actually meeting a xenomorph or a family of cannibals or something, but you might meet a horribly abusive mother or sociopath in a position of power. It’s easy to imagine crossing their path in real life, and you’d be screwed if you did.

  16. I always thought the tragedy of Carrie was that if any one thing hadn’t been the case, she probably would have made it through. If her mother hadn’t considered her evil, maybe she could’ve controlled it and dealt with the bullies peacefully. Or if Sue hadn’t tried to help she’d have just stayed home. Or of course if she wasn’t telekinetic she’d have just been another bullied kid but as Vern points out, the telekinesis is a metaphor for the rage and power that can explode if we’re pushed hard enough.

    I always want Carrie to come through it all but it’s never meant to be.

  17. Long time reader, first time poster. Interesting to read your school shooting take, I hadn’t really thought of it like that before. A great many of King’s books have protagonists who are losers or misunderstood loners, but in most cases they find inner strength or talents to act as a force for good against some greater evil, rather than becoming a malevolent force. Carrie lashes out in a more scattershot way like a wounded animal, but because of what has happened to her we sympathise, even though she does become the bad guy and unleash the full force of her power indiscriminately.

    3 years after Carrie was published King wrote ‘Rage’ under his Richard Bachman pseudonym. It tells of a high school shooting event from the point of view of the person who commits it. At a certain point the fellow students who he is holding captive begin to identify with their kidnapper, and even act violently as a group to prevent the escape of one kid. There are some flashbacks to give context to the shooter’s troubled upbringing and abusive father but we don’t identify with or sympathise with him in anything like the same way as we do Carrie White.

    There have been 3 school shooting events where the perpetrators had copies of the book or had read it many times. King was very uncomfortable with these links and allowed the book to fall out of print, and had it removed from later editions of ‘The Bachman Books’

  18. There have been at least three female rampage shooters I can think of without resorting to research or Wikipedia: Brenda Spencer (who, in the late 70s, shot kids at the elementary school next door to her house and told the police she did it because “I don’t like Mondays”) (and weirdly enough, looked like Sissy Spacek); Laurie Dann, in the Chicago suburbs in the 90s; and most recently Amy Bishop, who gunned down most of the University of Alabama medical school teaching staff when it became clear they were going to fire her for being a total psycho. (She’d previously killed her brother with a shotgun when they were teenagers growing up in Massachusetts and never did a day in jail, apparently because her mother may have been having an affair with the local police chief.) There’s a few more I can remember reading about or hearing about over the years. Women do indeed do this kind of thing, but far less then men.

  19. George Sanderson

    April 12th, 2016 at 6:52 am

    I’ve been a P.E teacher for 12 years now (though not in America) and have always found the stereotypical movie P.E class/locker room to be one of the more ridiculous film conventions. This is mainly due to my own experiences; in high school I was sporty, but not at all popular and as a teacher my whole philosophy is built around inclusiveness and offering opportunities for success for all my kids.
    So can someone tell me if the classic American movie gym class has any basis in reality? Did educational professionals really encourage and allow that sort of environment?

  20. The Original... Paul

    April 12th, 2016 at 7:12 am

    George – it’s weird ’cause for me, at least over here in the UK, it’s not a “thing” that happens. There was bullying of course, but it didn’t take that particular form.

  21. George Sanderson

    April 12th, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Thanks Paul, I have certainly seen bullying in my classes but I like to think that I step on it pretty quickly. The teacher in Carrie is actually one of the few movie examples I can think of where the P.E teacher comes across as a decent person.
    Sorry for going off topic a bit, but the idea of schools operating like this, leading to a student feeling so disenfranchised that they resort to mass killing still boggles my mind, though it appears that it is all too true.

  22. George – I’m really interested in your question, but what is it specifically about the American movie gym class that you’re wondering about? I think they represent memories of inadequacy for many people because of the competitive nature of the class followed by people who are still growing and self conscious about their bodies in the weird situation of having to be naked in front of each other. I don’t remember experiencing the classic towel whipping and stuff but it definitely did not feel like a safe place to be free to be you and me.

  23. Despite routinely being one of the smallest boys in my grade, the only time I was ever bullied was in the locker room after gym class in seventh grade. It was just one kid who took it upon himself to wedgie me daily. The other kids had nothing against me so they didn’t join in, but they sure as shit didn’t help either. They just kind of ignored us as he chased me around the locker room. Honestly, it made him look worse than it did me. It’d be like if Sue Snell broke open the tampon dispenser and nobody else joined in.

    We had art class together the next semester and kind of became tentative friends. He was clearly going through some shit at home and felt that the only way he could take some control in his life was by establishing dominance over the easiest target. Kind of sad, really. I’m sure he feels bad about it now.

    The gym teacher who allowed all this to happen was your standard mean old fuck who set an example for the students by bullying the misfits in his classes in front of everybody. So yeah, all those American gym class stereotypes are 100% based in reality.

  24. George Sanderson

    April 12th, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Vern – I’m curious about everything from compulsory communal showering (something that I have never come across) through to making two alphas captains and having them pick teams (pretty much the first thing I was told not to do during my post-grad teaching studies).
    The high school-movie P.E class tropes are so much the opposite of what is considered best practice that I started to assume that started to assume that it was parody.
    Majestyk – I’m sorry to hear that your P.E experience was a negative one and I’m also sorry to hear that what I’ve seen on film was a fair facsimile of your own P.E teacher. I would like to believe that I develop a sense of community in my classes where the highly skilled actually want to help the less skilled students. The positive social well-being that can be developed through a successful P.E program can be really beneficial for a school.

  25. That was just one shitty semester. I never had a great PE experience, not being an athletically inclined individual, but most of the time it was a more benign kind of not-greatness. I usually managed to stay under the radar.

  26. George Sanderson

    April 12th, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I understand. I felt the same way in Maths (or Math depending on which continent you are on). I was never explicitly made to feel stupid but I still knew by measuring myself against others that I was not making the grade.

  27. This was one of those famous movies that I had actually never seen until not too long ago, imagine my surprise when one of the first thing you see is Nancy Allen buck ass naked and then Stephen King’s credit is hovering next to some girl’s big 70’s bush, I about died laughing.

    But as the movie went on the more I got draw into it and even despite knowing about the famous climax it’s still a punch to the gut, so yeah, this is a great movie, one thing that’s interesting is despite it being one of the more famous King adaptions it’s easy to forget while watching that it is a Stephen King adaption since it features none of the cliches, the main character is not a writer, it’s not set in Maine (or at least doesn’t make it clear) and the overall style of the movie, especially the Pino Donaggio score, gives it a totally different vibe than what you usually think when you think “Stephen King”

    But seeing as how it was the first adaption the rules on “how” you adapt King had not yet been written.

  28. Just to add to what others have said, the movie really does get its power from the fact that you root for things to turn out differently. The film straddles multiple genres, one of which is tragedy. You know things are going to turn out poorly, but despite this you desperately want something to alter the inevitable. I think that’s why the film is still powerful even if it has been parodied to death.

  29. Woah, late to the party, but it whaddayaknow, I also was accused of being a Satanist in school (actually, elementary school in my case. What can I say, I was a precocious kid). Apparently this is either way more common in these United States than I had assumed, or a lot of us got linked to outlawvern.com from our local church of Satan.

  30. The Original Paul

    April 13th, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I was never accused of being a satanist, in school or subsequently.

    I feel kinda left out.

  31. JD – I never knew that the Boomtown Rats song, “I Don’t Like Mondays” was based on an actual event. Huh. Still, good song.

    I can’t believe being accused of Satanism was an actual thing for boys in school. I don’t think I ever heard a rumor like that. Maybe that one weird guy who brought what he was convinced were artifacts of Hitler’s to our history class and flipped out when one girl said she didn’t want to touch something that belonged to a psycho, saying we were all so brainwashed. I think his rumors were more that he was a psycho than a Satanist, though. Girls mostly just got accused of being sluts or frigid. Ah, youth.

    I think the closest I ever came to an real fist fight was in gym class over dodge ball. I have no idea where the teacher was or what they were doing, but it never got past the point of posturing. I don’t recall anything ever happening in the locker room, other than no one wanting to take a shower and no one parading around naked. In my school we were only forced to shower when we first started taking gym class, like in the 6th grade and I’m sure they were trying to teach us about good hygiene, but it’s not like anyone worked up a sweat. We all covered up with a towel and basically flashed the shower to get wet and that was it.

  32. When I was 8 my mother let me and my little brother and me watch the movie with her when it was playing on TV. My mother’s from the Phillippines and had never heard of it so she had no idea what a huge mistake it was for us to see this movie. After that final scare of the hand coming out of the grave me and my brother were completely traumatized and we had to sleep in our parents bed for the night! I had nightmares for a while after that. When I was young and after Carrie was soaked in blood and just went crazy with her powers at the gym I was completely scared of her but after going to high school I could sympathize. Also as a kid I didn’t realize that Carrie had gone so off that she was only imagining the people including her sympathetic teacher laughing at her, that they were just stunned and it was just PJ Soles.

  33. Believe it or not I only saw this the whole way through after seeing the remake and the sequel. (I felt there was no need to since it’s so iconic that everybody knows everything that happens in it anyway). But despite being a classic, I actually thought this movie was even better than I expected – I’ll even go as far as calling it a masterpiece.

    Spacek and Laurie are simply awesome, the story is timeless. The music is crazy-good, even the weird porno music during the workout scene. Speaking of weird, I love that this is the type of movie that comically fast forwards the “trying on tuxes” montage for no reason at all and never does anything like that again. But the real star is DePalma. His signature closeups and slow-motion and show-offy camera moves, his signature sleaziness and violence, it’s all here in spades. It’s one mad auteur adapting another, and the combination is amazing. Sure, it’s style over substance – there’s a ton of setups that make little sense logically (why ARE Carrie and her mom eating dinner in near pitch black darkness?) but when it looks this cool and creates a mood this well, who cares.

    I actually kinda like the remake as well (comments over there) and it has a few changes that I appreciated, but I will say it’s not scary at all – I didn’t expect this one to be either but the shot of Laurie hiding behind the door near the end scared the crap out of me and I was still scared of it days later and I’m a grown-ass man.

    Side note: Is this where Larry the Cable Guy got “Git R Done!” from? Travolta’s character says it twice during the pig killing scene, so either it’s some regional saying I’ve never heard of or Larry is a big Carrie fan.

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