Ok, so I’m not gonna do an exhaustive review of this movie, I just have to share some thoughts.
This is, perhaps, one of my favorite films of all-time. It’s something entirely unique. Writer Stephen King, director Brian dePalma, composer Pino Donnagio, actresses Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie have created something here that keeps me coming back year after year.
1.) They give us a glimpse into high school life in the mid-seventies that feels very authentic. So, it is powerfully nostalgic.
2.) Sissy Spacek’s Carrie is at once lovable, pitiable, beautiful, and terrifying. What other movie causes you to fall in love with it’s monster? You just want to take her up in your arms and tell her it’s all going to be ok….just don’t FREAK OUT!!!!
3.) Piper Laurie’s Margeret White, the monster behind the monster, creates one of the most striking characters in film….EVER! Her performance is masterful. Her mix of creepy religious fanaticism, southern drawl, powerful suppressed sexuality, psychopathic paranoia, and misguided maternity really set the stage for Spacek’s performance.
“I smelled the whiskey on his breath. Then he took me. He took me, with the stink of filthy roadhouse whiskey on his breath, and I liked it. I liked it!”
OH YEAH! That’s Oscar-worthy stuff their!
4.) Donnagio’s score along with contributions from pop singer Katie Irving. “Carrie’s Theme” is one of those heart-breaking and sweet pop melodies that get you totally hooked. You just want to hear it over and over again…and that’s exactly what Donnagio does! He weaves it throughout the movie. It has as much to do with the audience falling in love with Carrie as Spacek’s performance. He uses it to woo you, to delight you, to relax you, and to STRIKE you! It’s also the melody to Katie Irvings single, “Born to have it all” which plays at the dance. He creates tension with sustained chords, uncomfortably dissonant electronic tones, and driving low string patterns and punctuations, reminiscent of the score from Psycho.
5.) SCARY ST. SEBASTION!!! SCARY ST. SEBASTION!!!! No beard, glowing eyes, and eerily similar to the mom!
6.) It’s funny and goofy. I love the prom tux shop montage, Margeret White’s opening scene evangelizing to Sue’s mom, the silly music during the after-school calisthenics detention, the effeminate poetry teacher who praises Tommy’s plagiarized poem.
7.) And of course, it’s scary. It doesn’t numb you with a constant stream of slash scenes. It slowly teases you and relaxes you, building up your hopes while building up the awful tension of the terrible possibilities of a cruel prank on an unstable, telekinetic, outcast. And even after she has destroyed her entire senior class (save the would-be heroine, Sue), you still love her and feel for her as she purifies herself in the bath and as she faces her mother in a final showdown. Because, in the end, it’s Carrie’s mother who is the most terrifying. The woman who is supposed to love her and protect her, spends her last ounces of love in a misguided and violent act of murderous mercy. And although, I no longer jump when Carrie’s dead hand reaches out to pull Sue down with her in the dream, I still remember how it felt the first time I saw it.