Ladies of Horror May-hem: Carrie White


If ever you wanted the perfect spokesperson for why you shouldn’t bully the different kids, then Carrie White could be your golden girl. The bullied will envy the powers she possesses to take care of her adversaries, and the bullies should view her as the ultimate warning: Leave the different ones alone. You never know what you might uncover.

Based on Stephen King’s first published novel, Carrie is director Brian De Palma’s stylized telling of the story of a timid young woman with a religiously fanatical mother who rants and raves against the assumed sins of her daughter’s flesh in the most upsetting ways. Her abusive, sheltered life at home gives her no ability to defend herself against the abuses of her school environment, and neither place gives poor Carrie respite from the perpetual haranguing from all around her.

But Carrie has a secret…and it’s a killer, to be sure.

I suppose some might view Carrie as a horror villain. I don’t. I view her as a caution that, even though most bullied kids might not have the same powers Carrie possesses, they are one small step away from crossing a similarly violent line. Although she might be fictional, Carrie’s tragic tale has resonated loudly and sadly through far too many schools in far too many locations.

De Palma’s 1976 movie also earns pride of place as another one of the best adaptations of a King novel (even if his concept of what a girls’ gym locker room is like is way too Playboy Playmates romp for reality), with Sissy Spacek slamming home her portrayal of this awkward, unlearned, damaged young woman. Spacek’s Carrie is unnerving in the duality of her innocence and power, and when the movie’s denouement rains down upon her, you both feel her devastation and fracturing, and…well, you bloody well root for what’s about to come.