Soundtrack Saturday: “Carrie”

Written by Film, Soundtrack Saturday

“They’re all gonna laugh at you!” But not if you join Kelly Stitzel as she explores the soundtrack to the first film adapted from a Stephen King novel, Carrie

There has been a lot of discussion in the past few years about bullying and its repercussions. Since the advent of mobile phones and Internet gathering places such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, bullying has become more widespread and much less difficult to accomplish. It’s a lot easier for kids to taunt each other by posting nasty messages on a classmate’s Facebook page, texting an embarrassing picture to everyone in school or, worse, posting a humiliating video on YouTube that millions of people could possibly view.

In my day, all the way back in the the mid-to-late ’80s and early ’90s, bullies did their terrorizing the old-fashioned way — in person. That’s not to say kids aren’t still calling each other names, stuffing each other into lockers, or beating each other up after school. But I dare say that the Internet has made non-physical bullying far more attractive to the particular brand of fuckwit who thinks it’s cool to make a peer’s life a living hell. And because of how quickly the nasty comments or embarrassing videos can spread, the kids who are being bullied can easily feel that they have nowhere to go to escape the hell that is being wrought upon them — some to the extreme of taking their own lives, sadly.

I know this is some pretty heavy talk for a Soundtrack Saturday post — I’m supposed to be snarky and/or sentimental, right? But I think that it’s a fairly appropriate way to introduce this week’s film, Carrie (1976). Because, I mean, who knows more about being bullied than poor Carrie White (Sissy Spacek)? That girl was put through the wringer — constantly picked on by her high school classmates and physically and mentally abused by her crazy, religious-zealout mother (Piper Laurie). And just when she thinks things are getting better for her after she gets asked to the prom by number-one dreamboat, Tommy Ross (William Katt), the rug gets completely yanked out from under her — or, rather, the bucket of pig’s blood gets dumped upon her.

But, see, Carrie isn’t like other kids who get taunted and abused by her peers and family. See, Carrie has discovered that she has a special power — that of telekinesis. What the heck does that mean? Well, according to my handy dandy dictionary, telekinesis is the movement of a body caused by thought or willpower without the application of a physical force. So basically, Carrie can fuck you up just by looking at you. Of course, the dumb fucks who keep picking on her don’t realize this until it’s too late — and then all hell breaks loose.

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As attractive an option as it may seem, using telekinesis — or any kind of physical means — to get revenge on a bully is not a good idea. It doesn’t work out for Carrie and it wouldn’t work out for you. Seriously, if you or someone you know is being terroroized or bullied for any reason, get help, whether it’s a support group, a counselor or the police. Don’t let the ignorant fucks win.

Alright. Now that I’ve gotten the heavy stuff out of the way, let’s look at some fun trivia about this movie.

  • Not only was Carrie was the first novel Stephen King got published, but it was also the first of his books to be made into a film. Incidentally, it was also the first Stephen King novel I ever read and, I believe, the first movie I ever saw that was based on a Stephen King book.
  • Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were both nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. This was one of the very few times that actors in a horror film received such recognition. They both lost, though, to actresses who appeared in Network, Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight.
  • Other actresses being considered for the role of Carrie White were Melanie Griffith and Pamela Sue Martin.
  • After her first few auditions, Spacek was not being considered by director Brian De Palma for the role of Carrie, but for the role of lead teen villain, Chris Hargenson. It was Spacek’s final audition, at which she showed up with Vaseline in her hair and wearing a sailor dress she’d had since the 7th grade, that made De Palma realize she was perfect for the part.
  • Sue Snell’s (Amy Irving) mother is portrayed by Irving’s real-life mother, Priscilla Pointer. And Irving’s sister, Katie, provides vocals on two of the songs featured on the movie’s soundtrack.
  • Nancy Allen, who was the eventual choice to play Chris Hargenson, later ended up marrying De Palma.
  • Carrie was the big-screen debut of Irving, Betty Buckley and Edie McClurg and was one of the first feature films for John Travolta and P.J. Soles.
  • In 1988, an attempt was made to adapt Carrie into a musical. The film’s screenwriter, Lawrence D. Cohen,  collaborated with composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford to create the musical. Directed by Terry Hands and choreographed by Debbie Allen, it debuted with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Later that year, the production moved to Broadway, with Linzi Hateley playing Carrie and Betty Buckley, who also starred in the film as Miss Collins, playing the role of Margaret White. The Broadway run lasted five performances and is widely considered to be one of the greatest Broadway flops.

Carrie‘s score was composed by Italian composer Pino Donaggio, who would go on to work with De Palma on several other films, including Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double and Raising Cain. Donaggio’s score perfectly reflects the character of Carrie — at times sweet and wistful, then frenetic and psychotic. He even blatantly uses the four-note violin cue from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho whenever Carrie is about to get all telekinetic on someone’s ass.

In addtion to Donaggio’s score, the soundtrack also contains two ballads sung by Katie Irving, the classic Martha and the Vandellas track, “Heat Wave,” and a pop track performed by the duo Vance or Towers called “Education Blues.”

Originally released on vinyl in 1976, Carrie‘s soundtrack has also been released on CD twice. In 1997, a deluxe CD edition that also contained a few tracks of dialogue was released by MGM/Rykodisc. And then in 2005 CD re-release of the original soundtrack — without the dialogue — was released by Varèse Sarabande. From what I can tell, none of these versions are still in print. No released version of the soundtrack is 100% complete, as elements of the score and a few of the vocal tracks were omitted. I’ve done my best to compile as much as I could. As you listen, remember that they’re all not really gonna laugh at you.

Katie Irving – Born to Have It All
Katie Irving – I Never Dreamed I Could Love Someone Like You
Martha and the Vandellas – Heat Wave
Vance or Towers – Education Blues

Score by Pino Donaggio

Opening Title/In the Shower
Phone Call From School
Poor Carrie
Praying
Broken Mirror
Telekinesis
Depressed Carrie
Setting Up the Bucket of Blood
Talking About Prom/Carrie’s Power
Crazy Mother
Mama Hurting Herself
The Ballot
Switching the Ballots/Bucket of Blood
Prom King and Queen
Sue Knows/Bucket of Blood
Sue Knows/Bucket of Blood (Alternate)
The Revenge Starts
School In Flames
The Car Toss
Candles/Mother at the Top of the Stairs
Washing the Sin
Last Pray/Mama’s Solution and Death
Last Pray/Mama’s Solution (Alternate)
Collapse Of Carrie’s Home
Sue’s Dream/The Grab
End Title
Groovy Track 1
Groovy Track 2