movie: Carrie (1976)

You will recall that I recently read Stephen King’s Carrie, and was very impressed. I then made it a point to watch the classic 1976 movie starring Cissy Spacek.

classic shot from the final scenes.

classic shot from the final scenes.

The movie is reasonably faithful to the book in terms of simple plot. Carrie gets her period, is abused by the girls at school, is asked to the prom by popular Tommy whose popular girlfriend Sue has put him up to it (for mostly altruistic motives), is abused at prom, goes red in the face and uses her recently discovered special powers to get hers back.

But the book lost a lot in its translation to film. For one thing, the structure of the book was part of what made the total package so striking; and we necessarily lost a huge majority of the interior thoughts shared in the original. We lost important pieces of Carrie’s family history (the stones falling on her house were left out entirely) and of Chris and Billy’s evil machinations. Also, wasn’t Margaret White entirely too pretty on screen??

I thought the movie did capture the creepiness factor fairly well, although I was not much frightened by the movie, maybe because I already knew everything that was going to happen and felt less a sense of dread than I would have if it had all come as a surprise. (Although I’m easily frightened by movies. So, maybe take a half point off for not frightening me.) I will say one thing, and this is a spoiler if you haven’t seen the film, so highlight the following white text if you want to read: the final scene, where Sue takes flowers to Carrie’s grave (or home site?) and Carrie reaches up and grabs her wrist “from beyond” – that wasn’t in the book and I swear I jumped a foot when that hand appeared. Holy smokes, I was frightened. But I don’t know where that even fits in the story crafted by Stephen King, so again, I’m not giving full points for this.

Final conclusion: a fine movie, entertaining, but hardly worthy of the book it was based on. What else is new?

Rating: 5 cruel high school girls.

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