Within the vast gray area of horror villains, damsels, and heroes, my favorite scapegoat is a girl by the name of Carrie White. Let’s be frank, the first time we saw Carrie, we thought we were watching an after school special on menstruation. It might have been the awful ’70s flute ensemble that tipped me off, or the chanting. Plug it up! Plug it up! I want to go on record. I didn’t think this was a horror movie until 5 minutes before it ended. (Also, during the tampon scene, Carrie, played by Sissy Spacek, was imagining a a story she had been told about a car accident to get herself frightened enough.)
Here’s the dirt on Carrie White. She’s a bit awkward. Nothing ever works out for her, other then the fact that she has special telekinetic powers. At school, she is a social outcast. Her quiet and fragile demeanor makes her an easy target for taunting. Carrie’s mother and Mrs. Voorhees would have made good friends. Carrie’s mom is an overly obsessive religious mongrel. Their house looks like the cavernous pit of a Gothic church, lit with candles and draped with religious artifacts. Her mother saunters around in a black kimono-like outfit, her fiery hair ablaze. She is a single mom on too much or too little Prozac, it’s up in the air. After a session of teasing that gets out of hand, the gym teacher bans several students from attending the prom as punishment. Sue Snell, feeling guilty, asks her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom. He reluctantly accepts, and then eventually convinces Carrie to go with him.
At the prom, the cool kids rig the votes and place a bucket of pigs blood over center stage. Carrie is announced queen, and she is elated. Tommy wins king, and her world is perfect. You feel for her. And if you’ve seen the movie more than once, this is the moment in which you’re just cringing and hoping that it doesn’t happen. But you know it will. She’s waving and smiling, and suddenly the contents of the overhead bucket come pouring down onto her, drenching her pale pink dress and soaking her long hair. Her face is masked in slick velvety syrup and she is raging. Everyone is laughing, and the echoes of her mother warning her of this sinful event spin around in her head like a broken record player.
Bam. Telekinesis mode. Doors slam, people get crushed. A fire hose is unraveled and begins violently pressure cleaning everyone. A fire erupts out of nowhere. Decorations and gym equipment fall. Almost everyone is killed. Sue survives and reemerges 20 some odd years later for the The Rage: Carrie 2, which oddly enough takes us back to the site of the prom, a huge pile of mess that was never cleaned up. Honestly, a mound of human ashes? Someone should really have taken care of that by now.
When Carrie gets back to her house that evening, she cries to her mother, and of course, this is the perfect time for her mom to tell her that she was conceived through a rape, and then stab her with a knife. Carrie crucifies her mother with a series of knives. Waves of guilt crash through her, shaking the house. It burns to the ground and Carrie dies with it.
A few little, unknown facts about the film: directors Brian De Palma and George Lucas held joint auditions for Carrie and Star Wars at the same time. The fictional high school in Carrie, Bates High, is an obvious Hitchcock reference, and a predictable staple in many horror films. Carrie is one of the greatest adaptations of a Stephen King novel to date, and is frequently banned for its raw and horrific story. It was one of the first horror films to spawn “the final scare,” the scene that follows one in which you have assured yourself the worst is over, only to be jolted by Carrie’s hand rising through the ground to grab Sue. I’m a huge fan for one small reason: they never went mad with sequels. There was one true Carrie White, and only one fateful prom.