This classic horror movie based on Stephen King’s first novel stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a shy, diffident teenager who is the butt of practical jokes at her small-town high school. Her blind panic at her first menstruation, a result of ignorance and religious guilt drummed into her by her fanatical mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie), only causes her classmates’ vicious cruelty to escalate, despite the attentions of her overly solicitous gym teacher (Betty Buckley). Finally, when the venomous Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen) engineers a reprehensible prank at the school prom, Carrie lashes out in a horrifying display of her heretofore minor telekinetic powers. Many films had featured school bullies, but Carrie was one of the first to focus on the special brand of cruelty unique to teenage girls. Carrie’s world is presented as a snake pit, where the well-to-do female students all have fangs — even the reticent Sue Snell (Amy Irving) — and all the males are blind pawns, sexually twisted around the fingers of Chris and her evil cronies. The talented supporting cast includes John Travolta, P.J. Soles, and William Katt. One of the genre’s true classics, the film was followed by a sequel in 1999, as well as by a famously unsuccessful Broadway musical adaptation that starred Betty Buckley, the movie’s gym teacher, as Margaret White.
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