Sissy Spacek (COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER) is moving as high school wallflower Carrie White—a stirring performance that imbues the scares with sympathy. Abused at home by her religious-fanatic mother (Piper Laurie, who hadn’t acted in a feature since THE HUSTLER in 1961) and at school by her cruel classmates (notably Nancy Allen’s bitchy Chris Hargensen), Carrie finally cracks under the strain and uses telekinetic powers at the senior prom to enact bloody revenge.
One of DePalma’s most sensitive films—gory special effects aside—CARRIE is a horror classic from the traumatic event during the opening credits that drives Carrie to tears clear through to its startling final shock that wasn’t yet the genre cliché it would become. Both Spacek and Laurie were nominated for Oscars.
DePalma also coaxed good performances from Allen (who became DePalma’s wife), John Travolta (then on WELCOME BACK, KOTTER), and the curly-locked William Katt (THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO) as Carrie’s All-American prom date. Also with P.J. Soles (HALLOWEEN), the sensitive Betty Buckley (later the stepmom on EIGHT IS ENOUGH), Edie McClurg, Stefan Gierasch, Michael Talbott, Priscilla Pointer, and Sydney Lassick. Wonderful score by Pino Donaggio, the first of his seven collaborations with DePalma.