The Real-Life Reason Why Carrie's Climax Is So Terrifying

The conclusion to Brian De Palma’s Carrie gives us one of horror’s most iconic images – the sight of "prom queen" Sissy Spacek bathed in pig’s blood… the butt of a cruel, cruel prank. And yet, Carrie co-star William Katt recalls that things could have ended much worse for the members of De Palma’s ensemble, as they almost all burned to death bringing that prom scene to the big screen. Now that’s a horrifying Halloween tale worth sharing!

William Katt -- who played Carrie’s prom date, Tommy Ross, in the 1976 thriller – recalled the shoot during an interview with Yahoo Movies. He conjured entertaining tales of spinning Sissy Spacek around the high school dance floor so hard that she nearly collapsed with laughter. But then he turned his attention to the pyrotechnic scenes, where an enraged Carrie uses her latent powers to set the gymnasium on fire. And as Katt remembers it, things got beyond dangerous. He said:

I remember being on set when they lit off the fire, because we were doing stuff out of sequence, right? I was already supposed to be lying on the ground, dead. So they lit the stage on fire, and the actual soundstage itself caught fire. And the AD was screaming for everybody to get out, and Brian [De Palma] was yelling for the camera department to keep rolling. I thought that that was pretty funny. All the decorations, everything, caught fire, and I don’t believe that that was intentional."

He’s talking about this scene. Fast forward to the 5-minute mark to see the insanity and hysteria caused by Brian De Palma’s guerrilla tactics.

Yahoo spoils a bit of the fun saying that the blaze was quickly extinguished, and that no one was in any real danger. I suppose the scene was so safe and effective, they agreed to work it into the 2013 remake, as well.

I admire De Palma’s commitment to getting the most out of a chaotic scene, even if it means nearly torching a gym full of extras in prom gear. Of course, neither scene comes close to topping the Foo Fighters’ recent Carrie tribute on behalf of ALS, and the ice bucket challenge:

They’re all going to laugh at you! Now, with all due respect to William Katt and Carrie, we all know that the actor’s greatest role was in a totally different project. Click to the next page and relive the glory of Katt’s defining on-screen moment.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.