Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, Pig’s Blood Travolta*
Have I Seen it Before: I’m almost sure that I have, but I can’t point to when I might have done so. I definitely remember reading the book, if that helps.
Did I Like It: Well, clearly the memorability of the book over the movie should tell us something.
I like Brian De Palma. I really do. I think The Untouchables (1987) is about as great a movie as is ever to exist. Once one has worked out just what the hell is happening in Mission: Impossible (1996), it’s a pretty enjoyable spy thriller.
And I want to like Carrie. I really do. I get the feeling I wanted to like Carrie just as much as De Palma himself wanted to like the film. Unfortunately, he only seems to be interested in certain parts of the film.
The climax is the kind of confluence of conflicting POVs that have become De Palma’s bread and butter. While through cultural osmosis, we’ve all seen the moment when Carrie (Spacek) is brought to her semi-final humiliation, but it’s the Rube Goldberg machinations that lead up to that moment and eventually tear everything apart that makes the sequence worth remembering.
Everything else tends to play out with the subtlety and wit of an after-school special. The score—by Pino Donaggio—is all over the place, when it isn’t shamelessly and artlessly aping Bernard Hermann’s score for Psycho (1960).
And of course, De Palma does seem to be awfully interested in footage of naked women, and there is plenty of it. I’m not a prude, but the tableaus De Palma puts together makes me think that he may not have been the one to properly understand and tell this story. To be fair, King may not have been either, but I digress. I have not seen the 2013 remake, the fact that a woman directed the film does tend to recommend it on at least one level.
*Little known fact, the blood dumped on Carrie during the film’s infamous climax was played by John Travolta’s cousin.