Story Of The Scene: 'Carrie' Brian De Palma (1976)

Roger Clarke
Friday 10 November 2006 01:00

At last things seem to be working out for Carrie White. The bullied schoolgirl is going to the senior prom with the best-looking boy in the school. She's about to be crowned prom queen. But it's all a fix - her fellow teens out to humiliate her. Few who have seen the sequence will forget that teetering bucket of blood set just above her head. Carrie's telekinetic revenge on just about everyone, and the six-minute slow-motion scene that proceeds it, remains one of director Brian De Palma's most memorable scenes.

De Palma had been recommended Steven King's first novel Carrie by a writer friend, and after reading it he went out and bought the rights for himself. He had another actress in mind for the lead but he knew Sissy Spacek already; she was married to film designer Jack Fisk who had worked with De Palma before. She was cast eventually and Laurie Piper came out of retirement to play her demented mother.

The film was cheap to make at $1.8m and a 50-day shooting schedule. The special effects were organised by Gregory M Auer and the blood was made of something called karo syrup and food colouring, even though Spacek had volunteered to have actual pig's blood spilled on her. When Carrie returns home after her prom meltdown, the script had called for the house (designed by Spacek's husband) to be destroyed by a volley of rocks. In the end, however, Auer's machine for hurling the rocks lacked the power to collapse the house. The shoot was running late at 4am and the police had been called about the noise, so De Palma opted for simply burning the house down.

One of the oddest things about Carrie is how it shadowed a little-known production at the time called Star Wars. De Palma did joint auditions with George Lucas, and many cast members read for both films. However in an interview with Premiere magazine, Carrie Fisher denied she had ever turned down the role of Carrie. It was said she wasn't prepared to do nude scenes. The rumour isn't true. "I love being nude," she purred.

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