Why Stephen King Thinks Brian De Palma's Carrie Is Better Than His Novel

The thing about adaptations from book to movie is that they are so often polarizing. Die-hard fans of the book are often never satisfied with the way a film takes on one of their favorite stories, but those who are less attached to the original source material can often find positives within a new retelling. Thus, two distinct camps are born — book versus movie — and the internet arguments commence. People are very passionate about their favorite stories, which is actually a beautiful thing, and if we think about writers who have been recently getting the adaptation treatment, one big name comes to mind: Stephen King. His books have constantly been being turned into movies and television shows for a very long time — now more than ever — but perhaps one of the best King adaptations also just happens to be the first. 

"Carrie" is a story about a telepathic teenage girl who lives alone with her extremely devout and overbearing mother. She is often the subject of teasing and ridicule at school simply because of her strict religious upbringing. One day, the teasing gets out of hand, setting in motion a disastrous chain of events that end in fire and death. It's a decent first novel, and it's obvious to see why King took off in popularity, but it's not perfect. 

However, director Brian De Palma saw great promise in the book and made it into a movie starring Sissy Spacek a few year's after "Carrie" was published. And King was very pleased with the results.

Pouring the metaphorical pig's blood of critique

It's a well-known fact that Stephen King does not approve of Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of his book, "The Shining." He hates it so much that he really cannot seem to ever stop talking about it. This is kind of a shame because many horror fans absolutely love what Kubrick decided to do with Jack Torrence and the Overlook Hotel, but alas, it was all done much to the dismay of the creator of the film's original source material. It's not uncommon for King to dislike films made from books he has written, and I imagine it must be painful to see your work turned into something you don't recognize, but there are certain adaptations of King's work that he does genuinely appreciate.

If you ask me, De Palma's "Carrie" is one of the greatest film adaptations of a book ever made. It masterfully keeps all the good parts about the book intact while simultaneously improving upon the areas that could have used a little more work. I, however, am just one person with an opinion. But the one person you can always count on to tell you the truth about an adaptation is the author of the original work themselves. In this case, King himself has given his opinion on De Palma's "Carrie," and it's surprisingly pleasant.

Impressing the King with a prom queen

In a 1983 interview for Playboy, King was asked about the adaptations of both "Carrie" and "The Shining." While he had nothing but bad things to say about "The Shining" ("I'd admired Kubrick for a long time and had great expectations for the project, but I was deeply disappointed in the end result"), he was very pleased with De Palma's take on King's telekinetic teen. Calling De Palma's adaptation "terrific," King critiqued his own work saying, "I still think [it's] a gripping read but [it's] impeded by a certain heaviness, a Sturm und Drang quality that's absent from the film." De Palma's version on the other hand, King felt is "far more stylish than [his] book." Ultimately, he had a lot less to say about "Carrie" than "The Shining" (which he criticized for awhile), but perhaps that's because he simply finds nothing to dislike that much about De Palma's take. 

King doesn't seem to feel as positive about the 2013 "Carrie" remake, though. In fact, he told Entertainment Weekly that he doesn't understand why the film was going to be potentially remade when De Palma did such a great job to begin with. The most interesting thing about his feelings about the remake were that he was hoping Lindsey Lohan (!) would get cast in the title role and that David Lynch (!!) or David Cronenberg (!!!) would be allowed to direct. None of those things ever came to fruition, and the remake came out to generally lackluster reviews. Perhaps we should have listened to the creator of "Carrie" in the first place and just allowed ourselves to be happy with De Palma's knockout of a film.