Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #14–Carrie

How fitting is it that Stephen King’s wife rescued Carrie White from the trash?

We know the story: King, then a struggling author banging out stories to skin magazines while working as a teacher, wrote the opening to CARRIE and discarded it to the circular file, dissatisfied with the results. Wife Tabitha brushes the manuscipt off, sees potential in the material, and convinces her husband to change the literary landscape forever.

It’s an inspiring story, but the metaphorical trappings are almost too rich. Protagonist Carrie White is a teenager so awkward and dowdy that even her own creator had no initial faith in her. I’d be pissed off enough to go on a kill-crazy rampage, too. But the telekenetic girl with feminine hygiene problems transformed more than just King’s life, skyrocketing the careers of Brian De Palma and a cadre of acting superstars-to-be with her 1976 film adaptation.

The movie’s success can be largely attributed to De Palma’s often gimmicky but effective direction and the Oscar-nominated turns by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie (as well as an audience primed by the supernatural shenanigans of THE EXORCIST), but there’s another aspect, one left unsaid by both book and film, that struck a chord with the public’s consciousness: we’ve all known a Carrie. Some of us have even been a Carrie.

High school can be truly hell, and not all of us survive.

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