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USA 1976
Directed by
Brian De Palma
98 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Carrie (1976)

Brian De Palma's film, based on a Stephen King story, features excellent performances, particularly from Sissy Spacek in the title role as a troubled teenager with extra-sensory powers and a very creepy Piper Laurie as her religiously fanatical mother, in what is ostensibly a relatively mild low budget horror flick but is actually a first-class teen angst film with a strong dramatic centre.

The build-up to the inevitably destructive climax at high school prom is efficiently handled with De Palma establishing Carrie’s outsider status and depicting her negotiation of school life with credibility. There’s a familiar ring to the characters  - some shallow, some sympathetic  - and De Palma can be criticized for overstating their respective qualities but the approach, which suits the heightened tenor of the horror genre doesn’t detract from Spacek’s magnificent central performance (the only distracting features are the girl’s waist-high shorts!).

John Travolta, soon to be seen in his break-out role in Saturday Night Fever, plays a good-looking, chronically dumb hoon in what is a classic of mid-'70s American film-making.

FYI: The film was remade in 2013 as a slick teen horror movie directed by Kimberly Pierce who directed and co-wrote the excellent Boys Don't Cry in 1999. What was credible in 1976 however was not by 2013 and its only note of distinction was Julianne Moore in the Piper Laurie role.




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