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CARRIE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Piper Laurie
Director: Brian De Palma
Audio: DTS HD 5.1, DTS HD 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1
Studio: Shout Factory
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: October 11, 2016

THEY’RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU!!!!”

Film ***1/2

A story from master of horror Stephen King combined with the directing of no less than Brian De Palma makes Carrie, for me, one of the more riveting horror movies ever made. The novels of King have had of being made into movies directed by mostly top quality filmmakers. Such cases are Stanley Kubrick with The Shining, John Carpenter with Christine, David Cronenberg with The Dead Zone and Frank Darabont with The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist. This was De Palma’s first stab at an all-out horror movie, and it was also the first Stephen King novel to ever be adapted for the screen.

In addition, it was a big step for the movie’s mostly young cast, who were unknowns at the time, many of whom would go on to have notably successful film careers. The movie is also noted as John Travolta’s first movie role, following his television success with Welcome Back, Kotter. Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the movie is the terrifying climax because what leads up to it is a story with a mostly subtle feel.

The film starts out as an involving character study of a young girl who is very much an outcast. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a quiet, very shy who is unfairly tormented at school by fellow classmates. As it turns out, Carrie is not like other students in the sense that she possesses the power of telekinesis, the ability to move things without touching them.

In addition to being the big school joke, Carrie endures a wretched home life. Her mother (Piper Laurie) is religiously charged to a deranged degree, and the anger that is thrown Carrie’s way in a way charges up he telekinesis as a unique weapon of defense. Her mother forbids just about everything from sex to forming normal friendships, and is constantly punishing Carrie simply for uttering possibilities of such activities, but locking her in a darkened closet, with only statues of Christ to talk to.
 

The center story of Carrie is a cruel trick plotted by several students at the school to take place at the upcoming prom. It involves Carrie being asked to go by popular jock Tommy Ross (William Katt). Tommy’s girlfriend, Sue (Amy Irving), sets up the date, manipulating Tommy into considering taking Carrie to the prom, though he’s not in on the actual joke.

Cut to prom night, and it’s a stunning revelation, as Carrie turns out to be quite a pretty girl, and actually being with a date for this evening, she actually feels like a normal teenage girl. Then the cruel trick is executed, and the movie takes a quick and terrifying turn, making for a most memorable finish. De Palma’s split-screen technique is used to a dynamic effect in this pivotal moment in the movie, and his directing of the prom sequence in general is indeed a masterstroke of brilliance.

I can’t bring myself to reveal anymore of what happens in Carrie, in particular the ending, which is truly a shocker. What I can say is that it’s a horror movie not to be missed. The world of Stephen King was first brought to life on the screen with this movie adaptation, and it’s one of the best adaptations to date, thanks in most part to the skill of a masterful director.

Video ****

Brian De Palma’s work has been showcased lately in their absolute finest form to date on Blu-ray, and Shout Factory’s new 4k mastering of this film might just be the best example yet! I actually never caught the film on it’s initial Blu-ray release, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this release exceeds it completely. Image quality is through the roof, especially when it comes to De Palma’s signature camera angles and close ups. And the third act prom sequence is simply flooring with its color reproduction (the sequence has never looked more remarkable). A tremendous job all around!

Audio ***1/2

Equal marks on the audio end, as Shout has provided fantastic DTS HD mixes in both 5.1 and 2.0 form. The 5.1 mix does provide a more dynamic sounding experience, thanks largely to the wonderful enhanced sound it gives to Pino Donaggio’s score. Dialogue delivery is by far the clearest it’s ever been, and the horrific mayhem served up in the climax is certainly more effective than ever!

Features ****

Oh my, where to begin? Shout Factory continues their streak of grand releases featuring extras at a real Criterion-level quality. This 2-Disc Collector’s Edition release features a Trailer Gallery on Disc One, including those for this film and the subsequent sequels and remakes (for the record, I actually didn’t mind the 2013 remake with Chloe Grace Moretz).

Disc 2 is where the remaining extras are, and they are nothing short of fantastic! We get an array of new interview segments featuring the likes of screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, editor Paul Hirsch, casting director Harriet B. Helberg, cinematographer Mario Tosi and composer Pino Donaggio. We’re also treated to new interviews with actors Piper Laurie, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, William Katt, P.J. Soles and Edie McClurg. There’s also a brief but fascinating bit from the series “Horror’s Hollowed Grounds”, which revisits some of the film’s original shooting locations. The remaining extras come directly from the 2001 Special Edition DVD release (and have never been available on Blu-ray until now). They include a 45 minute documentary titled “Acting Carrie”, a 40 minute documentary titled “Visualizing Carrie”, and a brief featurette on the premise of “Carrie: The Musical” from screenwriter Lawrence Cohen. Also included is an animated photo gallery, TV & radio spots and a biographical article titled “Stephen King and the Evolution of Carrie”.

Summary:

Carrie is more alive and better than ever thanks to this remarkable Blu-ray set from Shout Factory. Brian De Palma rarely dabbled in pure horror, but this film beautifully illustrates that he was masterful at creating such a genre piece. If this film is dear to your heart, then you absolutely must ditch all previous incarnations and go with this fantastic new release!

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