Stephen King’s “Carrie”

I just finished reading the book “Carrie”, by Stephen ing and I am surprised by how different it is from the movie version, which I have known and loved for so many years. The basic storyline is the same, with the expected few minor Hollywood changes, but there is a whole side to the novel that wasn’t addressed in the movie. I understand why, but it just surprised me to find it there because no one I had ever spoken to that had read it had ever mentioned it to me until recently right when I decided to read it.

“Carrie” paperback, Signet 1992.

The Carrie of the novel is not quite as endearing and sweet as Sissy Spacek’s movie portrayal, and is actually kind of pathetic and slightly unlikable. She also ends up showing way more power than demonstrated in the movie and ends up not just burning the gymnasium where the prom was held, but almost the whole town! The death toll at the end is almost 500 townspeople and investigations are held and studies are done years after the incident. This is another difference from the movie, the pseudo-scientific tracts and FBI interviews with survivors that pepper the narrative and set up scenes. Carrie’s death is protracted as well and she shows signs of not only telekinesis, but mental telepathy. Her death scene in the arms of Sue Snell, after killing her mother and burning half the town down is very dramatic and somewhat unsettling.

Spanish poster for Brian De Palma’s 1976 movie version of “Carrie”.

For my money, I still like the movie better as a coherent, streamlined narrative, with a sympathetic protagonist and a “gotcha!” ending, but the novel did make me think a lot and provided a depth to the story that I hadn’t considered before.


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