Movie Classics – Carrie (1976)

Prom turned bad, pig's blood, a bible-bashing mum and high school bullies – all the ingredients for a fine teen horror

Carrie is the mother of all prom-based teen horror movies and a powerful adaptation of Stephen King's chilling first novel. Brilliant performances from Piper Laurie as a demented, religious-crazed mum and Sissy Spacek as her awkward and vulnerable daughter make this movie one of the most iconic (not to mention scary) horror movies ever. It even earned them a double Oscar nomination – a rarity for a horror flick.

The movie kickstarted Brian De Palma's film career – he went on to direct cult ganster classics Scarface and The Untouchables. An equally unknown American author, Stephen King, got a leg-up in his career, too. He'd go on to become one fo the world's biggest-selling authors and spawned film adaptions of many of his twisted tales, among them The Green Mile, The Shining, The Stand, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist. 

Sissy Spacek is a timid outcast, ruthlessly taunted, bullied and ostracised by the popular girls. She looks weird, her clothes aren't cool, her mum's the local loon and it doesn't help that she's painfully introvert and completely out of touch with pretty much every aspect of teenage life. Bar the disturbing shower scene at the start, the horror begins when the ashtray flies across the room.

Amoral queen bitch Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen) spearheads the revenge plot and ropes in her dim-witted boyfriend – the lion-maned John Travolta – but is countered by nice-girl Sue-Snell (Amy Irving) who pursuades her football star boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) to take Carrie to the prom. Little do they know Carrie is the kind of chick you really don't want to make angry.

Then comes the dreaded scene. Blissfully unaware of the cruelty that's about to go down, a dolled up Carrie takes to the stage with her prom date for their rightful place as king and queen. Suffice it to say, what ensues goes way beyond a broken ashtray and mummy certainly isn't happy when her daughter returns home from her date. The ensuing religious and sexually violent scenes culminate in that shocker ending, which can still make even the most hardened horror lover jump from one side of the sofa to the other.

The first and still one of the best film adaptations of a Stephen King novel. And the moral of the story? Bullying never goes unpunished, kids.


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