I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.
Carrie (1976): 9 out of 10: Shy teenage girl with telekinetic powers and a religious mother faces down bullies in her last year of high school.
The Good: This movie has aged like a fine wine. It features a star-studded cast including Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, PJ Soles, William Katt, Nancy Allen, and Amy Irving. Director Brian DePalma keeps a great pace, makes smart changes to the source material, and is not afraid of an artistic touch or two.
The underlying theme of a girl coming into womanhood and all the power that entails is handled extremely well for a film that is both an exploitation film (Hey it’s the girl’s shower) and a well-received critical darling (Oscar nomination for Sissy Spacek and an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe win for Piper Laurie.)
The ending works as well as you remember it, but it is the brief touches on the journey that elevates the material from its honestly pulp roots. Piper Laurie, in particular, sells her over the top character with one memorable set-piece after another.
The Bad. Bernard Herrmann was supposed to do the music for this movie, unfortunately, Bernard Herrmann died before the production started up. Perhaps as an homage, like renaming the high school Bates High, or as part of his Hitchcock obsession, Director Brian DePalma used Herrmann’s Psycho score repeatedly. This movie started a trend of cannibalizing that eek eek eek Psycho Scare Chord that lives to this day.
The Ugly. Good lord, these are some old high schoolers. These are Grease old, even Porky’s Revenge old. I am not just talking about the leads either, there are some suspicious hairlines and crows’ feet among the student extras in the prom scene, not to mention Mrs. Herb Tarlek herself Edie McClurg as a high school student.
Clothed Sissy Spacek almost pulls off the wallflower in high school look. (Naked she more like Denise Richards in Wild Things than a high school girl having her first period) The other ladies suffer from a similar fate with only PJ Soles looking anything close to high school age.
In Conclusion: From the last scene that has inspired horror films to this day (particularly the first Friday the 13th) to the theme of womanhood equaling horror a lot of what made Carrie unique is old hat in this day and age. What has held up through is the great performances and still hilarious dialogue (I am sorry I agree with Piper Laurie: dirty pillows belongs in a comedy). Add in additional treats like Willam Katt’s amazing hair or John Travolta squealing get r’ done and you have a winner for the ages.