Golden Oldies: Carrie (1976)

Although I first saw Carrie a long time ago now, what makes it unique is that I can tell you exactly my first impressions from the first time I saw it; it was that subversive and memorable.

Carrie is a horror classic, but for the first 65 out of the film’s total 98 minutes I would describe it as more of a coming-of-age teenpic. On first viewing, I remember waiting and waiting to be scared for the majority of the film, and being confused as to why this was considered by many as one of the top 10 best horror movies of all time.

It is, after all, based on a novel by Stephen King, who wrote the greatest coming of age story of all time, Stand By Me. In Carrie, King’s two talents, the ability to epitomise teenage angst and depict sheer horror, are combined to create a suspenseful masterpiece.

The film follows the story of Carrie, a young teenager trapped within the laws of her strict, Christian mother Margaret. After the embarrassment of getting her first period whilst at school she is the subject of cruel ridicule and bullying from many of the characters. One of her classmates takes pity on her and insists that her boyfriend take Carrie to the prom. As Carrie’s confidence grows, thanks to this act of kindness, her mother’s wrath increases. Margaret often locks Carrie in a small, dark cupboard insisting that she reflect upon her sins, however this cruel treatment awakes a power in Carrie she did not know she possessed.

King’s clever intertwining of teenage angst with the supernatural means that throughout the film we are teased with the possibility of Carrie’s potential. A number of characters including Margaret and several insufferable school bullies mean that your anger increases along with Carrie’s until the film’s gory climax that still shocks today. It’s one of the most merciless finales in cinematic history, and it doesn’t give a damn about who meets their grisly end, hero or villain.

As is probably clear from my synopsis, the majority of the film feels like a chick flick with only hints at horror and suspense; however, from prom night onwards the content entirely makes up for the slow build up, and redeems its reputation as one of the best horror films of the 20th century.

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