MOTW: Looking Back at the Original "Carrie"

Photo Credit: United Artists
October 14th, 2013

MOTW: Looking Back at the Original "Carrie"

"Carrie" is an upcoming 2013 film that has captured the attention of critics and audiences around the world. With all the buzz surrounding the new film, it is important to remember that it is actually a remake of one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. The original 1976 film is based on a book that was published in 1974 by Stephen King, one of the most legendary horror authors alive. The film follows the book loosely, taking some departures at major plot points to create its own unique interpretation of Carrie's story.

The 1976 film stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a mild-mannered teenage girl who is badly abused by her fanatically religious mother. Carrie is extremely sheltered, and although she is seventeen at the beginning of the movie, she is unaware of the popular culture and social rules that dominate the halls of her high school. Her attempts to make friends at her new school are almost immediately unsuccessful, and only the kindly gym teacher seems to show her any compassion. Things finally seem to be looking up when Carrie unexpectedly gets her period while using the public showers after gym class. Carrie panics and is humiliated by the other girls in class for her naiveté.

Meanwhile, Sue Snell is the senior class beauty, gifted with perfect blonde hair, stellar looks, and wealthy parents who provide her with all the latest fashions. Sue is cruel to Carrie at first, but after the incident in gym class, she takes pity on the strange outcast. In an effort of good will, Sue struggles to befriend Carrie and even convinces her boyfriend, Tommy, to invite Carrie to the senior prom. Carrie is ecstatic to finally have a chance to fit in, and Sue ultimately makes the selfless decision to stay home from her own prom so that Carrie can have a good time. Sue begins to learn more about Carrie's sheltered background and eventually suspects that her controlling mother may be abusive.

As the film progresses, another classmate threatens Sue's plan to include Carrie and make her prom experience memorable. In a twisted turn of events, a bitter girl who is banned from the prom for taunting Carrie after gym seeks revenge by orchestrating a cruel and grotesque prank at the prom. When Carrie misunderstands and believes that Sue and Tommy were behind her public humiliation, she lashes out and reveals a secret so shocking that their small suburban town will never be the same again. Carrie White may appear to be a shy, ordinary girl, but underneath she is harboring a powerful rage capable of destroying herself and the entire town with her. As it turns out, Carrie possesses latent psychic abilities that her zealous mother has forced her to keep secret. Believing her powers to be shameful, Carrie is unable to fully control them or understand the power that she wields.

Although "Carrie" revolves around its titular character, the relationship between Sue and Carrie is what makes the 1976 film so powerful. Amy Irving does an admirable job portraying Sue, who turns out to be a far more complex character than her prefect exterior would suggest. Sue may be popular, but she is far from heartless. Throughout the film, she grows as a person and is even willing to make a sacrifice for someone she barely knows. Unfortunately for both Sue and Carrie, their would-be friendship is thwarted by both unseen forces and the intervention of a vengeful classmate. Sue is forced to take on the role of protagonist and race against the clock to prevent a cruel prank from turning the senior prom into a blood bath of epic proportions.

While the 2013 remake promises to be a resounding success in the climate of modern horror, the 1976 original still retains its classic appeal. The film starred relatively unknown actors who delivered their roles with understated precision, making "Carrie" a believable psychological thriller that stayed with audiences long after they left the theater. "Carrie" boasts some of the most iconic scenes in horror movie history, and the film remains every bit as unnerving and edgy today as it was decades ago. The story line and atmosphere of "Carrie" may be set in the 1970s, but the entire film feels remarkably modern. From bulling to unlikely friendships forged between classmates, "Carrie" tackles some incredibly relevant themes that render it a timeless classic for fans of all genres. "Carrie" may appeal to fans beyond the horror genre too, but no Halloween season would be complete without popping this cult classic into the DVD player and enjoying thisbrilliant adaptation of one of Stephen King's most beloved works.

Tags: Carrie