Book vs. Movie- Carrie

I read the Stephen King novel last year (my review here) and I finally got around to seeing the movie.  I don’t remember particularly liking the book, but I thought it was worthwhile because of all of the pop references I now understand.  This was Stephen King’s first published book and first movie adaptation of his work.  He received a $2,500 advance for the novel and $2,500 for the film rights.  Must have been a popular number.

King said of Carrie, “I’m not saying that Carrie is shit and I’m not repudiating it. She made me a star, but it was a young book by a young writer. In retrospect it reminds me of a cookie baked by a first grader — tasty enough, but kind of lumpy and burned on the bottom.”

The paperback sold over a million copies the first year it was released.  The movie made $33.8 million in 1976 when it came out.

On with the comparison…

The Story/ Plot  Carrie is an odd high school girl raised by her very religious mother.  Carrie has telekinetic powers and can move things with her mind, when she’s upset it is unintentional.  She is an outcast at school and is ostracized even more after starting her period in the gym shower.  Sue feels guilty for her role in Carrie’s meltdown and offers up her popular boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to prom.

There are many differences between the book and movie, but the idea remains the same.  Carrie has a crazy mother, can do crazy things with her mind, and goes completely crazy at the prom.

For me, the book’s documentary style telling, using interviews and police reports after the fact, was much more interesting than the straightforward way of the film.  Thumbs Up– Book

The Visual Although I preferred what actually happened in the book, the visual of the movie was cool to see and did a pretty good service to the novel.  It was like stepping back into the 1970’s.  I was completely distracted by Tommy’s hair every time he was in a scene. It was large and shiny and blonde.  And the shower scene totally worked on film (although having girls frolic and chat while naked was not my high school gym experience).  The actual prom scene was cool, but I was expecting more.  Thumbs Up- Tie

Characters vs. Actors  I did not really connect with Carrie in the book, but in the movie I was able to see her in a more positive light thanks to Sissy Spacek.  She saved the character for me.  I was a little miffed at what they did to the character of Sue in the movie, but actress Amy Irving can’t be held responsible for the screenplay.  Thumbs up – Movie

(SPOILERS) The Ending  The end of the book was a firestorm that brought down a town.  In the movie Carrie gets a little knock on the head and she’s dead.  There’s really no comparison.  I will give a shout out to the movie for its VERY different ending – I jumped and was a bit freaked out, so it’s not all bad.  Thumbs Up- Book

And the winner is… the book.  I’m not taking anything away from the movie but when compared side by side it was an easy call.

Now it’s your turn to vote

If you want to vote in past book vs. movie polls (The Shining) (The Secret Life of Bees) (Under the Tuscan Sun)

17 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie- Carrie

  1. I’m not a huge Stephen King fan, except for a few movies. Got through the Green Mile but that’s been the only King book I”ve been able to do that! So I will have to trust you on this analysis! Love it!

  2. I remember reading the book (as a teen) and being creeped out that I did not see the movie until I was well into my 20s! My friend and I sneaked a copy of the book from her older brother. We did that a lot! The stuff we read….yikes!

  3. I agree with you that the book is better than the movie. This was Stephen King’s first and while he’s gotten better and better over the years this book does still scare me and in a good way!

  4. I remember reading the book and being so disturbed by the mother’s religious weirdness. For me, that was the scariest part. The ending of the movie scared the bejeezus out of me.

  5. I read the book but I forgot how I felt about it. I think it was post-movie so I probably was biased. And you’re right – Tommy’s hair is just so big and beautiful in the movie that it hypnotized me. It was like a character all by itself :)

    1. Personally, I can’t read a book after seeing a movie. The visual has already put to many ideas into my head that even if the book is spectacular, it’s difficult to get through. So, I agree, it’s best to read a book first even if it means getting disappointed by the movie. However, a movie can be enjoyed on it’s own if the book is never read and in that case, I have no way of getting disappointed. It’s a catch 22

  6. If not for Mrs. King, Carrie would have stayed in the garbage can where Mr. King tossed it. She thought it had potential and saved it. Behind every great man…

    I am laughing so hard at your entire Visuals paragraph by the way :0)

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