Don’t Mess With Carrie
Revenge is a dish best served bloody.
I’m not a parent, so you might think I have no right to give parenting advice, but I have some. If you hire a teenage babysitter, tell them to not show the movie Carrie to your six-year-old kid. This is exactly what happened to me 34 years ago when my babysitter, Gina, decided it would be fun to have me watch this classic horror film.
Weeks of nightmares unfolded for me where I dreamed that a giant, bloody hand was reaching up under my bed and grabbing me. I don’t know if my mom called Gina to tell her what was going on in the aftermath of her showing me the movie, but it definitely freaked me out as a child.
Carrie is what some would consider a quintessential horror film. There are still screenings of the movie that take place every year around Halloween, and folks like to dress up as her with fake blood poured all over themselves for festive parties. Some people might be able to relate to the character of Carrie, played by Sissy Spacek. She’s an outcast who is totally naïve about the world, is constantly picked on by her peers and others, and is annoyingly pitied by her teachers.
There’s also the fact that she’s being brought up by a single mother who is a terrifyingly devout Christian, which is yet another fact that the kids at school use against her. Carrie also has telekinetic powers, which she uses whenever she gets angry. Whatever it is, audiences still relish in this film.
Because of the popularity of Carrie, there have been a couple of remakes over the years, but none of them compare to the original. I think the fact that this film has one of the most recognizable scenes in horror movie history, aka, when Carrie gets doused in pig’s blood at the prom, is one of the main reasons this movie is still popular.
This scene is so famous that the concept of it has been used in TV shows, music videos, and other movies. Lucky for audiences, this disgusting prank sets in motion the killing spree that Carrie goes on, which is the climax of the film. She goes ballistic and uses her telekinetic powers to slaughter everyone in the gym, even the people that were seemingly on her side.
This is the ultimate revenge fantasy for any kid that was ever picked on in high school, which is probably another reason why people love this character.
Now, I have to talk about Carrie’s mom. She is a religious fanatic who is certain that her daughter is the devil incarnate because she got her period for the first time. She uses religion as a means to abuse her daughter. There are crucifixes and pictures of Jesus all over the house, and she even has a special closet full of religious imagery, where she forces Carrie to pray with her.
She also uses it to lock Carrie inside when she thinks Carrie is being naughty. This mom is totally fucked up! But, it’s also not unheard of to find parents just like this.
She is appalled at the dress Carrie is wearing to the prom and states that everyone will be able to see Carrie’s “dirty pillows”. This is a hilarious euphemism for Carrie’s burgeoning breasts, but those dirty pillows create the tipping point of sanity for Carrie’s mom.
Was Stephen King, the writer, trying to make commentary about people who are overly religious, and how that can lead to irrational and insane thoughts and behavior? Maybe.
Sadly, Carrie gets stabbed in the back by her mother, who believes she’s doing the right thing because of, you know, the Bible and stuff. I’m sure that attempted filicide wasn’t something movie goers in the 70s had seen; I imagine it was shocking at the time.
All’s well that ends well because Carrie uses her telekinesis to throw several knives at her mother, pinning her to the doorframe, with a final visual that is reminiscent of Christ on the cross. Mother and daughter die together as the house of horrors collapses in on them, which I guess is a fitting end to this parent/child relationship. I remember watching this scene as a kid and being terrified; it’s still traumatizing.
Watching the movie now, I can honestly say that it’s still an interesting horror film that has aged well. It’s a concept that rings true throughout the decades: bullies, outcasts, helicopter parents, revenge, and the feeling of not fitting in are all universal ideas that most people can relate to.
But, a word to the wise, wait until your kid is at least a teenager before you show them this movie, otherwise, you can be looking at being woken up in the middle of the night by a crying child at your bedside for at least a week.