by Jeff Rosenberg

When you think of women in Horror films what comes to mind; a large breasted nymphet spraining her ankle, the bad girl fighting valiantly but dying gruesomely or the good yet plain looking girl getting away? Jamie Lee Curtis hiding in a closet, a possessed Linda Blair flopping around on a bed, Janet Leigh being stabbed in the shower, Drew Barrymore being taunted by a masked killer; women are either the lone survivor or just there to ratchet up the body count.

Sure there have been exceptions; Adrienne Barbeau and Shannon Tweed kicked butt but again were typically there as eye candy or to die, usually with a close-up on their breasts. And while there have been women killers it’s usually Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger who get the glory.

 There is one exception, Carrie White. Brian De Palma’s 1976 Carrie shows us what might happen if one of our childhood wishes came true. Admit it, you once wished you had special powers, we all have. We wanted to be able to fly, to become invisible; we wanted superhuman strength or the ability to move objects with our minds. And while we’re being honest who hasn’t been picked on? At one time or another we’ve all faced a bully, some of us had it worse than others but we all went through it. And who didn’t want to use our newly discovered superpowers to get back at those who called us names, humiliated or beat us up?

Carrie White was all of us; whether we had abusive parents or came from a loving home, whether we faced taunts only in gym class or if our whole day was a living nightmare, whether it was just that one mean bully or if everyone made fun of us, there was a little Carrie in all of us. Carrie also deals with the apathy that so many bullied children face; all the so called caring teachers and concerned parents who stand idly by and allow the torment to continue. It shows the isolation and profound loneliness so many children suffer and the almost sexual pleasure some bullies get from their pain.

As a revenge movie it puts Sissy Spacek up there with Charles Bronson. Sure a few innocents get killed but a gym teacher and a cute guy are a small price to pay to see those just too perfect kids get theirs; admit it there was a Chris and Billy (Nancy Allen and John Travolta) in your school and you enjoyed watching Carrie taking her revenge. The movie does feel slightly dated and the special effects certainly pale compared to what we are capable of doing today but despite its flaws Carrie still holds up as one of the great horror movies of all time; this is Brian De Palma at his best. With his use of shadows and creepy camera angles, plus his trademark shock ending, Mr. De Palma masterfully weaves a tale that is heartbreaking, shocking and scary as hell.

 Of course having a great script and top notch cast doesn’t hurt; the movie stars future Academy Award nominees Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving and John Travolta. Carrie also stars Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill, Robocop), William Katt (The Greatest American Hero, Perry Mason Mysteries), PJ Soles (Halloween, Private Benjamin, Stripes), Priscilla Pointer (Dallas, LA Law) and veteran TV actress Edie McClurg. Of course you probably already know all this so here are eight interesting facts about one of my favourite films that you may not know. 

1.) Both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were nominated for Oscars for their performances as mother and daughter in Carrie. Ms. Spacek received her first of 6 Best Actress nominations (she won in 1981 for Coal Miner’s Daughter); Ms. Laurie received her first of 2 Best Supporting Actress nominations, she had previously been nominated for Best Actress, The Hustler 1961. They went on to play sisters in 1995’s The Grass Harp.

2.)  Linda Blair auditioned for the role of Carrie but turned it down, she was afraid of being typecast. Pamela Sue Martin (The Poseidon Adventure, Dynasty), Melanie Griffith and Jill Clayburg all auditioned for the role of Carrie as did Farrah Fawcett; she dropped out to do some little show called “Charlie’s Angels”, sounds vaguely familiar.

3.)  The pig’s blood that was dumped over Carrie at the prom was actually a mix of karo syrup and food coloring. Sissy Spacek said she was willing to have real blood poured on her; it probably would have been preferable since the syrup kept drying and they had to continuously hose her down.

4.) Nancy Allen went on to marry director Brian De Palma; she also starred in four of his movies.

5.) This was the first film based on a Stephen King book. Incidentally, Mr. King hated the novel so much he threw it out. His wife Tabitha took it out of the trash and mailed it to publishers; Horror fans everywhere are grateful

6.)  Stephen King’s name is misspelled in the trailer.

7.) When Chris and Billy are in the car she calls him a dumb shit and he slaps her. While his hand clearly misses her face we hear the slap. Speaking of slaps, when Betty Buckley has to slap Nancy Allen Brian De Palma wanted it to look real; as a result Ms. Allen was slapped over thirty times.

8.) Sissy Spacek has six Oscar nominations (1 win) and two Emmy nominations.

Piper Laurie has 3 Oscar nominations and 8 Emmy Nominations (1 win)

Betty Buckley has won 2 daytime Emmys and has been nominated for 2 Tony’s (1 win)

The other stars haven’t been quite so admired.

Amy Irving was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Yentle; she was also nominated for a Razzie award for Yentle, she failed to win either. She did win a Razzie for her performance in Honeysuckle Rose.

Nancy Allen was nominated for a Razzie for her performance in then husband Brian De Palma’s 1980 Dressed to Kill.

But the award goes to John Travolta, who in addition to his 2 Oscar nominations has received a whopping 7 Razzie nominations for his acting (he only won 1). He also twice received Razzie nominations as Worst Actor of the decade (1980’s and 2000’s). Mr. Travolta has also won Razzie’s for Worst Picture and Worst Screen couple, both for Battlefield Earth, 2000. Still he hasn’t done too bad, I think he has had a couple movies that fared well at the box office. 


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