The influence of Hitchcock’s body of work on De Palma’s career is well documented, with many of Hitchcock’s favourite themes, technical traits and stylistic predilections being integrated into the New Hollywood director’s own distinct style. The dazzling and symbolic 360-degree camera movement that circles Scottie (James Stewart) as he embraces Judy/Madeleine (Kim Novak) in Hitchcock’s critically lauded psychological thriller, for example, was recreated during the prom night sequence in De Palma’s film, as Carrie and Tommy dance and then kiss. In both scenes the characters are observed caught up in a heady mix of illusion and reality – with the world, and their lives, seemingly spinning out of control.
Director Alfred Hitchcock
After the stylistic influence Hitchcock’s Vertigo had on De Palma and Carrie, another of the original master of suspense’s films also played a part in shaping the adaptation of King’s novel. In Psycho’s case, though, it was the work of the great composer Bernard Herrmann that caught the ear of De Palma and Carrie’s Italian composer Pino Donaggio. The discordant, staccato violin motif that appears each time Carrie White’s telekinetic powers are displayed is an obvious nod to Herrmann’s iconic musical score to Psycho’s shower scene. Anguished and jarring, both pieces aurally reflect the on-screen disruption.
The Power (1968)
Director Byron Haskin
It’s fair to assume that Brian De Palma and Stephen King would have had their imaginations piqued by the TV shows and films in the late 60s/early 70s that dealt with some form of psychic phenomena. Reflecting society’s then growing interest in the area – the period when Uri Geller became a household name – the likes of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Byron Haskin’s big-screen sci-fi thriller The Power posited scenarios in which latent psychic abilities ran amok. Telekinesis is just one of the forms of psychic power on show in Haskin’s now rarely seen tale of mind control, military-funded research and superhumans.
Director John Boorman
Though De Palma’s teen-shocker and John Boorman’s bruising, and symbolic, backwoods thriller Deliverance have little in common thematically, one brief jolting scene in the latter would inspire one of Carrie’s most iconic sequences. Having survived a physically and mentally shattering weekend-from-hell in the remote Georgia wilderness, city dweller Ed (Jon Voight) has a nightmare in which the bloated hand of a corpse emerges from the fictional Cahulawassee River. Four years later, De Palma reworked Deliverance’s jump-scare in another nightmare sequence as Carrie White’s dead hand reaches out of the grave to grab hold of the arm of Sue Snell (Amy Irving), Carrie’s psychologically scarred, guilt-ridden final girl.
Black Christmas (1974)
Director Bob Clark
Initially released to mixed reviews, but subsequently growing in stature, Bob Clark’s Canadian Black Christmas had a weighty impact on the horror movie genre. Produced by Clark himself and written by A. Roy Moore, this psychological proto-slasher was set in and around a sorority house, and helped establish the templates for the slasher sub-genre and horror movies set in educational establishments. Swap the sorority house for a high school and an unknown killer for a telekinetic teen and you have the teens-in-peril narrative framework still seen in countless horror movies to this day. The two films form an integral part of the modern horror genre’s evolution.