Carrie: The Psychology of Abuse and Criminality (With Pig’s Blood)

Intro by Brandon

Carrie is a film so popular that it almost needs no introduction. When it came out in 1976, it had a huge impact. For director Brian de Palma, it was his first hit film. For Stephen King, who wrote the original novel, this film launched him into superstardom. Growing up, this was a film that everyone had seen—except me. I didn’t see it until just a few years ago. I didn’t tell anyone, though, because I was afraid that… wait for it… they’re all gonna laugh at you!

Following in the footsteps of films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, Carrie brings horror right to our doorsteps by showing us a supernatural story in a pretty typical high school. Though the characters are exaggerated, the film gives us relatable human experiences that feel a lot closer to home than older horror films like Psycho and Night of the Living Dead.

The film tells the story of the eponymous Carrie White, a shy, abused teenager who discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Carrie is abused by her overly religious mother and pretty much everyone else in the film until she reaches her breaking point, and her breaking point is mass murder. That’s right, Carrie kills most of her high school in what is probably the most intense prom scene ever filmed in a gymnasium.

Though Carrie is remembered for that super-freaky prom scene, it’s the slow burn of abuse and mistreatment that Carrie endures throughout the film that got our attention. As it turns out, for a podcast about movies and mental health, there is a lot to talk about in this film. Maria and I talk about the film’s feminist themes, the psychological effects of abuse, the purported link between abuse and violent criminal behavior, and more. So go slaughter a pig and get a bucket of its blood and settle in for this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health! Actually, don’t do that thing with the pig. That’s very bad. Enjoy this episode, though.

Show Summary

General: Stephen King and interesting tidbits

B: Tragic tale; based on Stephen King’s first novel; success of this film launched King’s career; joint audition with Star Wars, Sissy Spacek was amazing; several of the actors in the film thought this was a comedy before it was complete; typically dislike horror films; second time seeing this
M: No, real general ideas

Idea Exchange

B: 101 Dalmatians Drag Me to Hell
M: More Rated R Movies for Young People

Like: Campy 70s horror and a feminist message

B: The ending; anxiety-inducing cinematography; feminist lens
M: The beginning; campiness; my brother; over-the-top; 1970s

Dislike: Dated and over-the-top (and Brandon’s a prude)

B: The beginning; dated; absurd scenes that don’t belong, like long-drawn out discovery scene, tuxedo scene, car chase
M: Dated; were we supposed to know that Tommy and Sue were “good”; unbelievable; pig killing for what—a little too evil

Mental Health: Abused kids are believed to be more dangerous and can develop dissociative identity disorder to cope

B: 1970s crime, criminality, and child abuse; psychological effects of being treated like a criminal
M: Dissociative identity disorder; parapsychology; telekinesis


B: A lot of people assume that abuse leads to criminal behavior, so unfortunately now there’s a social stigma against kids who were abused.

B: I think Carrie is a somewhat political movie because it makes a statement of empathy about abused kids who are driven to violence, because that’s what this is: Carrie is an abused kid. She is abused by everyone, and she is driven to violence, and we’re supposed to feel bad for her.

M: Get out and vote.

Next Movie

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

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