Carrie is so successfully manipulative that its essential callousness is obvious
only after its bravura cinematic impact has worn off. (Newman, 1988: 124)
Whether or not one agrees with the above statement that Carrie is essentially
Author: Neil Mitchell
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Category: Performing Arts
Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's debut novel, Carrie (1976), is one of the defining films of 1970s "New Hollywood" style and a horror classic. The story of a teenage social outcast who discovers she possesses latent psychic powers that allow her to deliver retribution to her peers, teachers, and abusive mother, Carrie was an enormous commercial and critical success and is still one of the finest screen adaptations of a King novel. This contribution to the Devil's Advocates series not only breaks the film down into its formal componenets--its themes, stylistic tropes, technical approaches, uses of color and sound, dialogue, and visual symbolism--but also considers a multitude of other factors contributing to the work's classic status. The act of adapting King's novel for the big screen, the origins of the novel itself, the place of Carrie in De Palma's oeuvre, the subsequent versions and sequel, and the social, political, and cultural climate of the era (including the influence of second wave feminism, loosening sexual norms, and changing representations of adolescence), as well as the explosion of interest in and the evolution of the horror genre during the decade, are all shown to have played an important part in the film's success and enduring reputation.