AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: Brian DePalma (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Nov 1976
Duration (in mins):  97
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Cast: Sissy Spacek  (Carrie [White])
  Amy Irving  (Sue Snell)
  William Katt  (Tommy Ross)

Summary: During a volleyball game in a high school gym, Carrie White, a shy teenaged girl, misses the ball, and her teammates admonish her. As the other girls joke around in the locker room, Carrie showers alone. She sees she’s bleeding, and not realizing that she is getting her first period, Carrie screams for help. Sue Snell, Chris Hargenson, and Norma lead the other girls in pelting Carrie with tampons. The gym teacher, Miss Collins, yells at the girls to shut up. Carrie is hysterical and Collins slaps her to calm her down. Later, Collins is in the principal’s office with a humiliated Carrie. The principal, who mistakenly calls her Cassie, is amazed that a girl Carrie's age doesn’t know what a period is, and asks if she wants to go home. When the principal calls her Cassie for the third time, she yells that her name is Carrie, and an ashtray shoots off the desk as she runs out. As Carrie walks home, a small boy on a bicycle calls her "creepy Carrie." Carrie’s eyes go wide and the boy flies off his bike. Later, Margaret White, Carrie’s mother, comes home from preaching at the neighbors' and gets a call from the school. She hangs up and tells Carrie to come downstairs. Margaret hits Carrie and screams that Carrie bled because she had lustful thoughts. Carrie pleads innocence, but Margaret locks her in a closet. Inside the closet there’s a statue of St. Sebastian with glowing eyes and arrows protruding from his sides. Later, when Carrie cries in her bedroom, she looks at the mirror and it cracks. The next day, a teacher reads a poem by Tommy Ross, the school’s football hero. Carrie says it’s beautiful and the teacher makes fun of her. Tommy insults the teacher under his breath. In gym class, Collins tells the girls that their punishment for taunting Carrie is either to do an hour of calisthenics for three days or not go to the prom. After they pick the calisthenics, Collins works them hard, until Chris tells the teacher to “stick it up her ass.” Collins slaps Chris and the teenager turns to Sue and Norma for support, but Sue tells her to shut up. Collins tells Chris she’s out of the prom and Chris storms off. Meanwhile, in the library, Carrie searches for books on the paranormal and finds a book on telekinesis. After school, Sue asks Tommy, who is her boyfriend, to take Carrie to the prom. A reluctant Tommy agrees. That night, Chris is riding with her boyfriend, Billy Nolan, and alternates between sexual teasing him and calling him stupid. He slaps her and starts to get out of the car, but she pulls him back in and performs oral sex. As Billy nears orgasm, he agrees to help Chris get revenge on Carrie. The next day, Tommy asks Carrie to the prom, but she refuses and runs away. In the gym's stairwell, Carrie tells Colins that Tommy asked her to the prom to trick her. Collins says that Carrie has to change her attitude, telling Carrie she is beautiful, and with a little makeup, everyone will see it. Later, Collins talks to Sue and Tommy, who claim they’re trying to be nice to Carrie. Tommy says it doesn’t matter as Carrie said no, but Sue insists he ask her again. Tommy goes to Carrie’s house, but Carrie tells him to go away as her mother is home. Tommy won’t take no for an answer, and Carrie finally agrees to go to the prom. Later that night, Chris, Billy and Billy’s friend, Freddy, break into a pig farm. To Chris’s excited screams, Billy repeatedly smashes in a pig’s head. Meanwhile, Carrie tells Margaret about the prom, and Margaret says she can’t go. Carrie says she’s going and from now on she wants to be a normal girl. Margaret throws water in her face and tells her to get in the closet but Carrie refuses. Margaret gets up to close the windows but they shut by themselves. Carrie tells Margaret that she can move things with her mind, warning that things are going to be different now. Margaret calls her a witch and says she has Satan’s power. Carrie says it isn’t Satan, and Margaret can’t stop her from going to the prom. News spreads that Tommy is going to the prom with Carrie. A group of girls laugh and wonder what Carrie is going to wear. Another girl asks Sue why Tommy isn’t taking her. Sue explains she is helping Carrie. A few feet away, Chris tells Norma her plan to humiliate Carrie. Carrie makes a beautiful gown for the prom, and as she gets ready, Margaret demands that she take off the dress and burn it. When Carrie refuses, Margaret warns Carrie that everyone is going to laugh at her and begs Carrie not to go. When Margaret screams and scratches at her own face, Carrie orders her to sit down and be quiet. Margaret falls into the bed and can’t move. Carrie runs downstairs and a frozen Margaret whispers, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” At the prom, everyone is shocked at how pretty Carrie looks, and Collins, relieved to see that Carrie is having a great time, hugs the girl and tells her she’ll never forget this moment. Tommy tells Carrie everyone’s going out after the prom, and she responds that he can go without her, but he insists that she join them. Tommy then coaxes her onto the dance floor. Carrie stumbles, but Tommy pulls her close and kisses her. She asks why he asked her to the prom and he says it is because she liked his poem. The music stops and everyone fills out the ballots for the prom king and queen. Upon Tommy's suggestion, he and Carrie vote for themselves. When Norma and Freddy collect the ballots, they switch them with fake ones. Meanwhile, Sue has sneaked into the gym, and when Tommy and Carrie are announced as winners, she runs backstage to get a better look. There she notices a rope leading up to a bucket. Sue looks under the stage and sees Chris and Billy. Before she can warn Carrie, however, Collins grabs Sue and marches out of the gym. As the crown is placed on Carrie's head, Chris pulls the rope and pig blood rains down on Carrie. The bucket then falls, hitting Tommy on the head and knocking him out. Hearing her mother’s voice say, “They will all laugh at you”, Carrie imagines that the Principal, Collins and all the students are laughing. Her eyes go wide and all the lights go out in the school gym. Doors and windows slam shut and a fire hose sprays the crowd. A teacher and the principal are electrocuted as they fight over the microphone, and a falling backboard cuts Collins in half. The gym bursts into flames and a blood-soaked Carrie walks out, leaving everyone to burn. Chris spots Carrie walking home and tries to run her over, but Carrie causes the car to catch fire. At home, Carrie finds candles burning throughout the house. She draws herself a bath and cries as she washes off the blood. In the bedroom she finds her mother wearing a white nightgown. Carrie asks Margaret to hold her. Margaret tells Carrie that the first time she had sex with Carrie’s father he was drunk and raped her and she liked it. Carrie was born of sin and Margaret should have killed her at birth. They kneel to pray and Margaret stabs Carrie with a butcher knife. Carrie falls down the stairs, but as her mother approaches, knives fly across the room and impale Margaret in the same position as the St. Sebastian statue. Margaret groans as if in orgasm and dies smiling. Carrie removes the knives as the house catches fire, and drags Margaret into the closet while the house sinks into the earth. Days later, Sue dreams she is wearing a white nightgown and holding flowers. She comes to a pile of black rocks with a “for sale” sign that is shaped like a cross. “Carrie White burns in Hell” is written on it. As Sue places the flowers by the sign, a bloody hand reaches up and grabs her. Sue wakes up screaming and her mother tries to comfort her. 

Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.
Production Company: Redbank Films
Director: Brian DePalma (Dir)
  Donald Heitzer (1st asst dir)
  William Scott (2d asst dir)
Producer: Paul Monash (Prod)
  Louis A. Stroller (Assoc prod)
Writer: Lawrence D. Cohen (Scr)

Subject Major: Adolescents
  Mothers and daughters
Subject Minor: Dances
  High schools
  High school principals
  High school students
  Premarital sex

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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