Carrie (1976)

Brian De Palma directs Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving in this Stephen King horror about a bullied high school girl who develops telekinesis.

Carrie has grown on me over the years but its reputation as a horror classic has always puzzled me. The final 25 minutes, where a blood soaked Sissy Spacek causes a Final Destination style massacre of all her oppressors is fantastic. Yet the hour long build-up is relatively blood free. We watch two acts of pieces being moved into place, like a domino rally, where everything is set to trigger Carrie’s rage and deadly new talent. And I don’t know about you but watching pieces being lined patiently up isn’t half as fun for me as watching them fall into each other rapidly. There is some high camp to keep us entertained; twenty-something women running around in skimpy PE kits, PJ Soles’ trademark rebellious red cap, William Katt’s maelstrom of golden permed curls, the worst tuxedo shopping montage ever (DePalma literally fast forwards through it at one point), John Travolta’s awful southern accent… There are even a few lurid, button pushing moments of psychological dread that work; Carrie’s tragic first period, Piper Laurie’s unhinged zealotry, that grotesque statue of a martyr Carrie has to pray to, Nancy Allen’s spiteful sexiness… Yet the only real reason to celebrate Carrie is De Palma’s bravura use of unfashionable filmmaking techniques. You are dazzled by the split screen, the split diopter shots, the scenes filmed backwards to give them an otherworldly etherealness. This is a great genre movie maker finding his house style. And house styles don’t get anymore distinctive and visually playful than our Brian’s.

7

My Top 10 Brian De Palma Movies

1. The Untouchables (1987)

2. Snake Eyes (1997)

3. Casualties of War (1989)

4. Mission: Impossible (1996)

5. Blow Out (1981)

6. Dressed to Kill (1980)

7. Carrie (1976)

8. Raising Cain (1992)

9. Body Double (1984)

10. Carlito’s Way (1993)

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