We recently had the opportunity to view and review the re-make of Steven King’s seminal film, Carrie, and (as we admitted in that review) while we had never seen the original film we also came to learn that there have been a number of other “remakes,” spinoffs, and adaptations of the book, and this is actually the third film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1974 novel of the same name,
The first adaption of the book Carrie was a feature film of the same name, released in 1976. Written for the screen by Lawrence D. Cohen and directed by Brian De Palma, the film starred Sissy Spacek as Carrie, along with Piper Laurie as Margaret, Amy Irving as Sue, Nancy Allen as Chris, John Travolta as Billy, Betty Buckley as Miss Collins (whose name was changed from Miss Desjardin), and William Katt as Tommy. The movie is generally regarded as a watershed film of the horror genre and one of the best film adaptations of a Stephen King’s work. Spacek and Piper Laurie both received Academy Award nominations for their performances.
Then in 1988 a Broadway musical adaptation of Carrie, was staged. The book and music were later revised and updated for a 2012 Off-Broadway production. Then in 1999, a sequel to the De Palma film — entitled The Rage: Carrie 2 was released. It was based on the premise that Carrie’s father had a number of affairs and fathered another daughter who also had telekinetic abilities. In this film, Amy Irving reprised her role as Sue Snell, who was the only survivor of the original prom and was now a school counselor. Unfortunately, the film proved to be both a commercial and critical failure.
In 2002, a made-for-television film of the same name was released. This film starred Angela Bettis, Emilie de Ravin and Patricia Clarkson. However, in this version, Carrie survived the prom as the story was supposed to have been spun off into a television series that never actually materialized. In 2006, playwright Erik Jackson acquired King’s permission to stage a non-musical spoof of the story, which premiered Off-Broadway with female impersonator Keith Levy (also known as Sherry Vine) in the role of Carrie. Finally, in 2011, MGM and Screen Gems gained rights to make a new film version written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Kimberly Peirce, who is known for her work on the film Boys Don’t Cry. As with many recent “remakes” (True Grit) the film is actually more a re-adaptation of the original text and not so much a remake of the De Palma original.
Viewing this new version of the film, we can’t help but to view it as a prototype blueprint for some of the more aggressive bullying that we’ve seen among schoolchildren in the past decade or so. Just think of it, Carrie is bullied by her peers and then she exhibits her powers more, and more. Finally when a seriously cruel trick is played out on her on prom night she unleashes her full telekinetic wrath, destroying not only her school, but her repressive, seriously deranged mother, herself, and most of her schoolmates. How much different is this from the actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine on April 20, 1999? Sure, they didn’t have telekinitec abilities, but they did bring bullying and guns into the national limelight in a big way.
To be sure, most bullying events don’t end quite so dramatically, many of them wind up with the victim killing themselves, rather than exploding on their schoolmates with automatic firearms. Still, you would think that, if not the lesson of Carrie, but that of Harris and Klebold would come as a sharp warning to bullies that the guy (or gal) who is the easy target from all of their “harmless” hazing just might snap and come back with a brace of automatic weapons.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.