In 1976, Carrie
made a star of Sissy Spacek, a bankable first-tier director of Brian DePalma, and a household name of horror writer Stephen King (on whose first novel the film was based). Newcomers John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Nancy Allen didn't do so bad for themselves either.
But like the solid efforts of many film composers, Pino Donaggio's work went largely unheralded at the time, though DePalma would reward him with no less than five more scoring assignments in the years to come. Ironically, Donaggio was the director's second choice; the first, Bernard Herrmann, died just hours after the final recording session for Scorsese's Taxi Driver in December, 1975.
For the Carrie, score, Donaggio descends from the breezy string and flute arrangements that introduce the innocence of the title character into a darkening orchestral maelstrom as the troubled telekinetic Carrie suffers increasingly harsh indignities at the hands of her schoolmates and madly fundamentalist mother. Like his peers Morricone and Rota, Donaggio often understates the most dramatic scenes of his projects; the famed school prom hell storm scene is accompanied merely by rumbling sustained chords from the strings beneath subtly disquieting electronic effects. Ryko's interspersing of dialogue clips is especially effective here, particularly the chilling rantings of Piper Laurie as Carrie's mother. --Jerry McCulley