Carrie

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Carrie White -- making people afraid to pick on "that girl" since 1974.

A novel of a girl possessed of a terrifying power.

Published in 1974, Carrie was the first published novel by author Stephen King; it was adapted into a classic Horror film in 1976 by Brian De Palma. The story follows the life of high school outcast Carrie White, a young teenage girl who has no friends at school and is endlessly tormented by her classmates and by her own mother, a raving Christian fanatic named Margaret. After being humiliated in the school shower while having her first period, Carrie learns that she possesses potent telekinetic powers, allowing her to move objects and knock people down with her mind. One bully in particular, Chris Hargensen, is suspended and barred from the upcoming prom for the incident involving Carrie. Feeling that Carrie is to blame for the situation, Chris plots revenge against her.

In the meantime, Sue Snell (one of Carrie and Chris' classmates) feels that what she and her friends did to Carrie was wrong and asks her athlete boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom as a form of atonement. Chris finds out about this and sees an opening for one of the greatest pranks in school history: she and her friends will rig the ballots for prom queen so that Carrie wins, then dump a bucket of pig's blood on her head in front of the entire senior class, humiliating her on the best night of her life.

This goes about as well as one would expect it to.

Carrie is regarded as a landmark horror film, seen as one of the best horror films of The Seventies and one of the best feature film adaptations of a Stephen King work, to the point where King himself feels that it's better than the book. The film was a major success for United Artists, grossing over $33 million at the U.S. box office on a budget of just $1.8 million. The ending is notable for being perhaps the first use of a "shock" ending in a horror film, which has since become a staple of the genre due to its influence. It was welcomed by immense critical acclaim -- unusual for a horror film, even today -- and was nominated for two Academy Awards[1] and a Hugo Award. There have since been several follow-ups/adaptations, none of which involved DePalma or King:

  • A Broadway adaptation was put together in The Eighties, written by Lawrence D. Cohen (the writer of the 1976 movie). After a limited run at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in England (which received mixed reviews), it debuted on Broadway on May 12, 1988. There, it was met with scathing reviews, and the $7+ million production quickly became one of the biggest flops in Broadway history, closing after only sixteen previews and five shows. It was infamous enough that a book written about Broadway's worst was titled Not Since Carrie. A number of people, however, saw a lot of potential beneath the poor production and feel that it could've been done much better it had been given some polish. A heavily overhauled, off-Broadway revival is in the works.
  • The Rage: Carrie 2 was a sequel made in 1999. It has its own page.
  • A made-for-TV Remake was made in 2002, written by Bryan Fuller (yes, that Bryan Fuller) and starring Angela Bettis in the title role. It stayed closer to King's novel than the 1976 film did -- with the exception of the ending, which was meant to lead into an NBC series that never came about. Mirroring the novel's use of after-the-fact articles to tell its story, most of the film takes place in flashbacks, with the survivors of Carrie's rampage being interviewed by the police. It is notable for an early appearance by Emilie de Ravin, who plays Chris. Despite its obvious low budget, Conspicuous CG, and radically altered ending, this film has its share of fans, and it's not unheard of to find people (particularly younger fans and those who have read the book) who prefer it over the 1976 film.
  • Another remake starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore was released in 2013. It was written by playwright, Marvel Comics scribe and Glee writer/co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and directed by Kimberly Peirce (of Boys Don't Cry fame). Like the last remake, it was less of a remake of the original film and more of an adaptation of the King book, with the use of found-footage elements and interviews to convey the book's Scrapbook Story. The reaction has been unsurprising -- even King himself has questioned whether it is necessary -- though Sissy Spacek doesn't seem to mind.

Not to be confused with the country singer, though her video for "Before He Cheats" is an Homage to the film. Or with that Carrie. Or that one.

Tropes used in Carrie include:
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Carrie, although even in the book She Cleans Up Nicely. To a lesser extent, Margaret in both films.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Norma in the original film. This was due to DePalma enjoying PJ Soles's performance and thus rewriting her role to give her more screen time. Ditto for Tina in the 2002 film. Neither were actually evil in the book.
  • Adorkable: Norma may be The Dragon to Chris' council of high school villainy, but she is so dorky and cute you kind of want to let it slide. Especially after seeing her get her hair done in the salon, and still wearing her trademark hat on top of the dryer.
  • Affectionate Parody: An entire fan-made musical theater production was made as a loving parody of the original film, entitled Scarrie!. Carrie was played by a man, as was her mother, who also had five o'clock shadow. Lampshade hangings, fourth wall breaking, and the play ended with the moral of the story being "Chris should have just killed that stupid bitch, and went to the prom!", as the dead sing a cheerful song pointing out that this was all Sue's fault.
  • Air Vent Passageway: In the remake, this is the only way anybody is able to get out of the gym once Carrie locks the doors.
  • The Alleged Car: The original book has Billy driving a rusty, beat-up, jacked-in-the-back '61 Chevy Biscayne with a broken headlight. The film, fortunately, upgrades him to something much cooler.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Chris with Billy, who is frequently described as a delinquent, and is seen cracking open a beer while cruising down the strip (stopping only after he notices that there's a cop in the next lane). He is the one who kills the pigs to get the blood for the prank.
  • All of the Other Reindeer
  • Alpha Bitch: Chris and Norma in the original, and Chris (again) and Tina in the remake.
    • Lampshaded in the parody Scarrie!:

Chris: "The Carrie Whites of the world aren't meant to go out with the Tommy Rosses of the world! For if God had wanted that, he would have given her a kick-ass bod, and long hair, that layers easily and DANCES IN THE WIND!!"

  • Asshole Victim: Let's face it, Billy and Chris kind of had it coming.
  • Ballroom Blitz
  • Beautiful All Along
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted when Carrie gets covered in pig blood.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Pretty much the moral of the whole story.
  • Blondes Are Evil: This trope is likely the reason for Chris's Adaptation Dye Job in every adaptation. In the book she is black-haired but is blonde in both movies. The remake also has a gang of blonde extras who are frequently seen turning their noses up at Carrie. Averted with Helen in the remake.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Guess.
  • Blood Splattered Prom Dress
  • Bloody Handprint: Carrie leaves one of these on Mrs. Desjardin's shorts during the opening scenes, being under the impression that she is bleeding to death during her first period.
  • Bucket Booby Trap
  • Bullying a Dragon: Chris and the rest of Carrie's Jerkass classmates didn't know what she was capable of until it was far too late. Her mother, on the other hand, did know... and not only kept right on treating her in the same old way, but actually treated her worse, calling her a witch. In the novel, it's mentioned that some of Margaret's female relatives apparently had the same talent, and Margaret knew about it.
    • In the book, there is a flashback from Margaret, involving her own grandmother (Carrie's great-grandmother). The woman would display her telekinesis and cackle madly. She'd also gone completely senile at an early age before dying of a heart attack. It's shown that she was a pretty frightening figure for Margaret to grow up with, which is probably why she ended up being a crazy religious fanatic. It's subtle but gives her a very slight Well-Intentioned Extremist view.
  • Buried Alive: Carrie in Sue's nightmare at the end of the original film.
  • Censor Steam: The television edit put in a ton of CGI steam to hide all the nudity in the opening five minutes.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: In the original film, most of the religious iconography that shows up in Margaret's house is explicitly Catholic.
  • Coming of Age Story: Albeit one that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  • Confessional: Margaret White has one in her house, where she locks Carrie periodically. It is decorated with horrifically vengeful images of God and Jesus.
  • Cool Car: Billy, Chris' boyfriend, drives a 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle. Shame that Carrie blows it up.
    • In the remake, Billy drives a Cool Truck. It suffers a similar fate -- Carrie slams it against a tree. Roof first.
  • Crucified Villain Shot: In the movie: Carrie's mother, in her final shot, impaled with steak knives in the style of the St. Sebastian figurine in the confessional.
    • And like Saint Sebastian, she experiences religious ecstasy during her death. Saint Sebastian, who according to legend was a very handsome young man, is something of an unofficial sex symbol in the Catholic Church (especially among closeted gay men). The movie uses this to show how Carrie's mother has literally channeled her sex drive into religious devotion - or in this case, Saint Sebastian.
  • Deadly Prank: It ends up being this for almost the entire high school. In the remake, Tommy is killed when the bucket falls on his head before Carrie's revenge even starts; in the book (and possibly the movie), he's only knocked unconscious, but dies with the rest of the students in the fire.
    • It should also be noted that in the book, Carrie not only killed her school but went on a rampage through her town, killing almost everyone who lived there.
  • Death by Adaptation: Norma and the gym teacher in the 1976 film. In both the book and the remake, they lived.
    • Tina in the remake. It seemed both films made sure that the girl who helped Chris with the prank would get retribution.
  • Death by Mocking: And how.
  • Delinquents: Billy and his friends.
  • Desolation Shot: Appears in the remake, with its shots of the fire and destruction that Carrie has left in her wake.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: A variation: instead of Carrie saying this, it's Miss Desjardins (Collins in the movie) who does so for her as she punishes the class for humiliating Carrie in the shower. Subverted in that the girls don't learn a thing from it -- in fact, it makes Chris want to humiliate Carrie even further.

Miss Desjardins (Collins): Have any of you ever stopped to think that Carrie White has feelings? Have any of you ever stopped to think?

    • Carrie finally standing up to Margaret also has elements of this.
  • Disappeared Dad: Carrie's father died in an accident before she was born.
  • Domestic Abuse: How Margaret treats Carrie, and how Billy treats Chris.
  • Downer Ending: Carrie kills her mother at the end, then dies from a combination of overuse of her power and her own injuries. Also, the few survivors appear to be traumatized, especially Sue.
  • Dying Town: In the book, the town of Chamberlain becomes one of these in the aftermath of Carrie's rampage, well on its way to becoming a Ghost Town, as starkly reported in "The Legacy of TK: Scorched Earth and Scorched Hearts," one of the articles that make up the book's epilogue:

The over-all impression is one of a town that is waiting to die. It is not enough, these days, to say that Chamberlain will never be the same. It may be closer to the truth to say that Chamberlain will simply never again be.

  • The End - or Is It?: The final scene, where Sue is grabbed by Carrie's arm coming out of the ground while laying flowers at the ashes of her house. Thankfully, it turns out to be All Just a Dream. This shock ending wound up having a major influence on many pioneering Slasher Movies, particularly Friday the 13 th.
    • The book has a very quiet The End - or Is It?, with Amelia's letter to her sister. Fortunately, she's not a religious nut, and her concerns about Annie's telekinetic powers are mostly health-related.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Billy's Chevelle explodes soon after rolling over. Justified, though, in that it's heavily implied that Carrie caused the car to blow up.
  • Evil Matriarch
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In the 2002 version, when Billy sees Carrie out on the road and decides to run her over, Chris screams at him to stop. She wanted Carrie humiliated, not being ended up as roadkill. This isn't the case in the original, where it was Chris who tried to run Carrie down while Billy just looked on confused, likely drunk.
    • During the 2002 version's prom scene, after Carrie is drenched in blood, she -- in her mind -- hears and sees the entire student body and teachers laughing mockingly at her; in reality, the students stood mostly in stunned silence, trying to register what had happened, and most of them likely were disgusted and/or outraged (and probably wanted the instigators punished). The scene cuts back and forth between the actual reaction and what Carrie believes its the reaction.
  • Fan Disservice: The shower scene in the beginning starts off very sexy, with lingering shots of the entire female cast undressing and showering, but it then culminates in Carrie shrieking while having her period.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair
  • The Film of the Book
  • Flat Earth Atheist: In the book, mention is made of how the "Carrie White affair" and proof of the existence of psychic powers has affected the scientific community's long-held preconceptions. While most scientists have accepted this new reality, it's mentioned that those at Duke University, among others, continue to reject it as a hoax even after the government's official report on what happened supported their existence.
  • Follow the Leader:
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: A lot of those stupid teenagers at the prom might have lived had they not found Carrie's utter humiliation so hilarious.
  • Freudian Excuse: Having Margaret White as a mother can excuse practically everything.
  • The Fundamentalist: Carrie's mom is a particularly psycho version of this trope.
  • High School
  • High School Dance
  • Homage: The video for "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. In the video, as Underwood walks down a small-town city street, various objects fly in the air, building windows break, lampposts fall and so forth, during a rampage caused by the horror she felt when she saw her boyfriend kissing another woman. (Her boyfriend's truck is also badly damaged, presumably as the result of the Carrie-type rampage.)
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: It strikes on prom night instead.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me
    • Hell, Carrie and Tommy dance to a song with the same words as this trope at the prom.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Carrie's next door neighbor remarks what a pretty child she was and her reaction to seeing Carrie's high school photo was "what did that woman [Margaret] do to her?".
  • In the Blood: One of the book's Scrapbook Story elements consists of clippings from books and scientific papers discussing the genetic and biological origins of telekinesis.
  • It's a Small Net After All: Subverted in the remake. When Carrie does a search for "miracles" so that she could learn about her psychic powers, she has to dig through a bunch of results that have nothing to do with what she's looking for (including a site advertising "miracle underwear"). Still, she's able to find the information she needs without having to go to the second page.
  • "It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It": Margaret crudely tells Carrie how she was produced via rape because Margaret considered all sex -- even within marriage -- to be offensive and sinful. She starts screaming with pleasure about how she admits she enjoyed it.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: In the novel, Carrie's initial reason for flooding the gym is simply to ruin the prom. She quickly decides to kill everyone instead.
  • Kill'Em All: In the original film, Sue is the only major character who survives to the end. The remake has a larger pool of survivors, which includes Ms. Desjardin, who died in the original film.
  • Kill It with Fire: In all versions of the story, Carrie kills her fellow classmates by locking them in the gym and burning it down. The novel and the remake also have her flooding the gym floor and dropping live wires into it, electrocuting everybody. In the original film, this is also how Carrie dies.
  • Left the Background Music On: During "Eve Was Weak" in Scarrie!, Carrie gets annoyed with the back up chorus singers singing while she's trying to pray, and uses her powers to slam the door on them.
  • Lovecraft Country: The book and the remake are set in Maine. It's made explicit in the book, while in the remake, the license plates give it away.
  • Made for TV Movie: The remake.
  • The Masochism Tango: Chris and Billy, especially in the book.
  • Medium Awareness: In the parody Scarrie!, Chris is singing in protest of the after school detention. Miss Collins responds with "Are you trying to out-sing me, Hargensen? *singing* You're out of the proooom!"
  • Menstrual Menace
  • Mind Over Matter
  • Mind Rape: In the book, a dying Carrie tries to do this to Sue, angry about the prank that she thought Sue had pulled on her... only to find that Sue meant her no harm, and that she hadn't planned to humiliate her at the prom. Sue even lets Carrie into her mind intentionally to prove this to her. Also, several people who survived Carrie's rampage had her presence and identity essentially stamped into their minds, even though most of them had never met her and many never saw her that night.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The original film would have started out like this had the special effects necessary for the scene worked properly. They didn't, and so the scene was scrapped. The remake, thanks to the advance of CGI, was able to include this scene, albeit not at the very beginning.
  • Mugging the Monster: Although, they didn't know she was a monster until it was too late.
  • Mutual Kill:
    • In the novel: Margaret stabs Carrie, then Carrie kills Margaret by stopping her heart. Carrie eventually dies from shock, blood loss, and overuse of her power in finishing off her final tormentor, Chris Hargensen.
    • In the original movie: Margaret stabs Carrie, Carrie uses Margaret's knives to crucify her, and then Carrie is finished off by a burning, collapsing house, along with shock, blood loss, and general physical overload.
    • In the remake, Margaret drowns Carrie in the bathtub and Carrie gives Margaret a heart attack. Carrie doesn't stay dead for long, though.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reason Sue asked Tommy to take Carrie to the prom was because she felt sorry for what she did to Carrie in the shower. Also, Carrie has a moment like this after killing her mother.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood:

The Principal: We're really sorry about this incident, Cassie...
Carrie: IT'S CARRIE!

  • Never Found the Body: In the remake.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The events of the book (which was published in 1974) are said to have occurred in 1979, and most of the in-universe articles that the book uses for exposition were written in the '80s. The films, however, are all set squarely in the year that they were released in.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sue. Granted, if she hadn't participated in humiliating Carrie in the shower, Carrie would have still been mistreated, but Sue's actions made her feel guilty enough to send Tommy to ask her to the prom, which is what set into motion everything that followed.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Judging by accounts of what she was like on-set, Sissy Spacek was one of these. When trying to come up with a good fake blood, Sissy said she'd be willing to just use actual blood (they chose to use red corn syrup instead). Plus, when they were planning on having a stunt double perform the scene where Carrie reaches out of the ground to grab Sue's arm, Sissy insisted on doing the scene herself because she wanted to experience being Buried Alive.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Sue just wanted to do something nice for Carrie. We all know how that turned out.
  • Offing the Offspring: Margaret White is convinced her daughter's telekinesis is a sign of demonic possession. Things come to a head after the fateful prom.
  • Only in Florida: From the remake: where else would a girl with Psychic Powers who faked her death run and hide in? The one place where such a thing would pass for "normal."
  • Ordinary High School Student: Carrie and Sue.
  • The Parody:
    • The 1982 Scott Baio film Zapped!, about a high school nerd who gains telekinetic powers after an accident in the science lab. He mainly uses his powers to beat up bullies and strip girls naked. It even climaxes with a scene where he goes berserk at a school dance - but there's no death. Just girls stripped naked.
    • In the Airplane!-esque slasher movie spoof Pandemonium (also from '82), the Final Girl is "Candy", who has telekinetic powers that allow her to kill the villain. Her first scene, in which she defies her overprotective mom, also pokes fun at the famous "dirty pillows" euphemism for breasts.
    • Scarrie!. See Affectionate Parody above.
  • Person as Verb: At the end of the novel, it's said that "to rip off a Carrie" passed into teen slang, meaning "to commit large-scale mayhem". In Real Life, "pulling a Carrie" or "going Carrie on [something]" became synonymous with someone going crazy after being humiliated. This one's become so well-traveled that it even appears in the Kare Kano manga as a visual-only metaphor for someone snapping under the strain of having perfectionist, controlling parents.
  • Pilot Movie: The remake was intended to be this for a show on NBC, but it was never picked up due to low ratings.
  • Prank Date: Subverted. Carrie thought this was the case when Tommy asked her to the prom. However, he had benign intentions, as did his girlfriend Sue, who arranged for him to take Carrie to the prom instead of her due to her feeling sorry for joining in on Carrie's humiliation in the shower. Chris found out, though, and she wanted to make sure it went very badly. And it did.
  • Psychic Powers
  • Psycho Strings: Heard whenever Carrie uses her powers.
  • Psychological Horror
  • Race Lift: Sue, who was white in the original, was black in the remake. Fortunately, they not only resisted the temptation to turn her into a Sassy Black Woman, but they did not even mention her race at all, implying that this was more of an example of colorblind casting than political correctness.
    • The actress who played Sue in the remake, Kandyse McClure, would go on to play Vicky, another originally white character, in the Children of the Corn remake.
    • An arguable example would be the change of the gym teacher's ethnicity from French in the book (Desjardin) to Irish in the movie (Collins).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge
  • Rustproof Blood
  • Scrapbook Story: The original novel was partly told through a mix of newspaper and magazine articles, scholarly papers, government reports, and excerpts from Sue Snell's memoirs.
  • Screen to Stage Adaptation: The musical. As detailed above, it has become a byword for disastrous Broadway flops.

... and as the lights dim to black, boos ring out from the upper balcony while below, others begin an ovation. ... Carrie has become an instant legend.
As the audience files out, some appear thrilled, others appalled; the word most frequently bandied about is "unbelievable". ... The ad copy, which read "There's Never Been a Musical Like Her," has proved oddly prophetic.

    • Scarrie! the musical parody.
  • Setting Update: The remake sets the movie in 2002 instead of the 1970s.
  • The Seventies: The setting of the book and the original film.
  • Seventies Hair
  • Sex Is Evil: Margaret thinks all sex, even within marriage, is immoral and sinful.
  • Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Though Margaret's husband, Ralph shared her beliefs, once he couldn't resist the temptation, and managed to pressure her into having sex (or outright raped her, it's a bit ambiguous); that's how Carrie was conceived. Margaret never got over the fact that she actually enjoyed the act.
  • Sexless Marriage: Carrie's parents wanted to have a marriage like that.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Carrie gets dressed up for the prom, both Tommy and the narrator say she's beautiful. Miss Desjardin gets this as well when she turns up at the prom. Carrie thinks she looks as though she's attending the prom instead of just chaperoning.
  • Shout-Out: The original, being directed by noted Alfred Hitchcock fan Brian DePalma, has tons of shout-outs to Hitchcock's movies. The two biggest ones are probably the use of the "shower" music from Psycho, and the fact that the school is renamed Bates High School.
    • The remake has a shout-out to She's All That where Tommy remarks how similar this is to the plot of that.
  • Shower of Angst: Goes without saying, both openings have this, as well as the endings.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Deconstructed.
  • Split Screen: Used perfectly during the prom scene. This is a staple of Brian De Palma, so it isn't surprising.
  • Stepford Smiler: Sue is terrified of becoming this in the novel after high school though funnily enough, the incident prevents her from becoming one.
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: All of which is being caused, directly or otherwise, by Carrie.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Especially in the remake.
  • Teens Are Monsters: All the girls in the locker room, but particularly Chris, who is the mastermind behind the pig-blood prank. Billy is a monster as well. And of course, there's Carrie...
  • There Are No Therapists / Social Services Does Not Exist: Justified. Margaret probably thinks that therapists would lead Carrie down the path to Hell, and she'll be damned if she'll let the "godless" government social workers take away her daughter -- in the book, at least, it's established that she regards the government as a den of sin.
  • Token Romance: The 1976 film adds a kiss scene between Tommy and Carrie, implying he has fallen for her. In the original book this never happened since Tommy was in love with Sue. You then realize that Tommy pretty much cheated on Sue. The book states he only thought of Carrie as a friend.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer showed off pretty much the entire climax, including the deaths of nearly every major character, which makes one wonder why anyone bothered to go see the film. It's particularly hilarious when they dramatically mention "John Travolta in his first motion picture role" and promptly have his car explode.
  • Unusual Euphemism: They're not breasts, they're "dirtypillows".
  • Villain Protagonist: Carrie. She's also type II anti-villain.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: The original story and the remake have Carrie destroying her entire town, killing over four hundred people. In the book, it's explicitly stated that, within a few months, what was left of Chamberlain, Maine was a Dying Town, on the way to becoming a Ghost Town. The makers of the original film wanted to include this, but they didn't have the budget, and instead settled for destroying just her high school and her house.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: The prom scene. All of it.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Carrie could have been the Trope Namer for this. She may go psychotic at the end but she is almost instantly remorseful. And after what she endured, it's amazing she didn't snap sooner.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain
  1. And not in the technical categories, as is often the case with "genre" films. One nomination was for Sissy Spacek for Best Actress, and the other was a Best Supporting Actress nod for Piper Laurie.