Viewed – 09 January 2017  Blu-ray

I have memories of this 1976 horror classic as being really unsettling and disturbing, and recall catching it on TV a long time ago, back when I was first discovering horror.  Based on the Stephen King book of the same name, incidentally the famed author’s debut – this tells the simple story of an outcast school girl, bullied by other students and living in the shadow of a controlling, deeply religious mother.  However Carrie hides a secret, the fact she can movie objects with her mind, and sometimes experiences such power manifesting when she’s at her most troubled.

CarrieBrian DePalma’s movie is mostly a teen drama; an exploration of youth and peer pressure from woman’s perspective.  To this extent it’s a very feminist movie with strong themes of puberty, menstruation and womanhood.  It’s also of that glut of religion themed horrors that over-flowed from the 70s, like The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby even if it’s never quite as gritty or unsettling as those two.  Add in elements of exploitation movies and schlocky-horror of the time and quite a cocktail we have.  Sissy Spacek as the title character is mesmerizing and iconic, but then again so is Piper Laurie as her nutty mother who gets all the best lines and is probably the real creep factor of the show.  Add to this decent runs from Amy Irving, a bitchy Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill, RoboCop) and a memorable John Travolta and this ticks all the boxes.

Piper LaurieI didn’t find it anywhere near as scary as I remembered, and it’s occasional light, almost comedic moments sit uneasy with the horror.  This is however a movie where DePalma shows his true colours, with a mostly haunting, dream-like atmosphere throughout, leading to a stunning, still show-stopping finally that sent equal amounts of shivers and relish through me as Carrie takes her vengeance.  For me it remains one of the most heart-stopping moments in cinema history.  With this movie DePalma brings together all the techniques he’d honed in the earlier years.  It’s as showy and eye-catching as you may expect from the director but also surprisingly touching and sweet, which you may not expect considering the movie’s legacy.  It’s also a lot better than any carbon copy remake.

Arrow Video Limited EditionI managed to pick up the limited edition version of the Arrow Video blu-ray and well, what can I say?  The packaging firstly is stellar, housed in a nice slip case that has a 40 page booklet, art cards and a poster.  Also, the movie is in great shape.  The 4K restored image is vibrant and detailed despite an intentionally soft-focus look, and sound is also excellent with clear dialogue and an especially thumping soundtrack when the prom (from hell) occurs.  We get soundtracks in both the original 2.0 stereo as well as very good 5.1 DTS Master Audio.  Add to this the disk itself being filled with extras, with a brand new audio commentary from two film critics that is both funny and fascinating, and a wealth of features comprising of interviews, behind the scenes footage, location footage and explorations of all the various version of Carrie that have been made, from remakes to a musical(?).  The absence of both King or to a lesser extent Travolta is disappointing, however this is a small niggle for what is mostly an exhaustive and epic release.


(the movie)  4 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5



Viewed – 15 April 2014  online rental

It’s difficult to really say what we as movie lovers actually want from a remake.  In my opinion they have usually only worked when the source material is ropey or lacking in the first place, with some exceptions of course.  So now we come to what was possibly one of my most dreaded rehashes.  First mistake – remake a bonafide classic of the genre, Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel.  Second mistake – the casting of pretty starlet Chloe Grace Moretz, something I have ranted about here on this very blog.


But brushing such fears aside, what is it actually like?  Well let’s back track a little and tell you what we have here.  Moretz plays lonely, bullied high school kid Carrie White, who lives in the shadow of her god-fearing, domineering mother (Julianne Moore) and pretty much tries to go unnoticed … until that is she gets her period in the school showers and becomes a cruel laughing stock to everyone who witnesses it.  But hey, Prom Night is on the horizon, so things can only get better … right?

Let’s just say straight away, I was wrong about Chloe Grace Moretz.  She is actually surprisingly convincing as the outcast Carrie, something I didn’t see coming and hey I’ll admit when I am wrong.  She portrays the iconic role previously played by Sissy Spacek very well indeed, and even seems to have grown somewhat as an actress in the process.  The second slam dunk is Julianne Moore – absolutely perfect as Carrie’s demented bible-quoting mother, and does the impossible by equalling the performance of the excellent Piper Laurie – possibly the true highlight of the original.  The rest of the cast aren’t quite so interesting; we get the token popular girl who grows a conscience, the bully who basically is like every other bitch in such movies, and the do-gooder gym teacher … all not adding much.  Director Kimberly Pierce however is clearly well-traversed in De Palma’s movie and this is basically a very close never-really-daring-to-try-anything-new sort of remake – although when the original pretty much hit all the right notes, that can be (mostly) forgiven.

Some bits are drawn out (the car sequence…), there’s too much CGI and the final prom bit fails to go for the jugular … oh and sorry Chloe you don’t look scary covered in blood.  Yet this was still better than I expected.  Worth a look.

Verdict:  3 /5

Everything right and wrong about Chloe Grace Moretz


Now before you think this is going to be some sort of character assassination post … I personally am a fan of this talented young actress.  I thought she stole the show in the movie Kick-Ass, a role that deservedly launched her to stardom.  Yet the next thing I saw her in was a remake of the excellent Swedish vampire flick ‘Let The Right One In’.

chloe-moretz-let-me-in_edited  lina leanderson

Now the problem I have with such role choices she seems to be making (or her agent is) is that following a relatively daring turn in Kick-Ass the logical next step is to turn to horror roles?  Erm, why?  In the original movie they chose a pale, gothic looking actress in the form of Lina Leandersson (right) and it was perfect.  Why was Moretz wrong for the remake?  She’s too cute and pretty to believably come off as a vampire that’s hundreds of years old!  No I say!  That and many other mistakes the questionable retitled ‘Let Me In’ made.  Yet for some reason her agent (or herself) repeated this casting error with the recent remake of ‘Carrie’.


I haven’t actually seen this movie although I plan to, but again she’s replacing an actress (Sissy Spacek – right) who was cast for her plain, wall-flower look, and again Moretz is too pretty for the role!  This is meant to be a bullied, picked on character … and I imagine Moretz would be fairly popular in school!   I may be wrong about this but it made me immediately doubt the credibility of the performance and the subsequent reviews seem to support my theory.

Now look at her in a movie like Hugo, perfect … quirky, cute and likable – even returning to Kick-Ass 2 will undoubtedly work I’d imagine (another one of my to-watch movies).  So I sincerely hope that in the future Chloe Grace Moretz starts going after roles that suit her look and style, not dark horror roles better suited to dark, gothic actresses … perhaps its cool she has such diverse career opportunities, and she has the talent, is funny, charming and deserves to do well … just perhaps leave the remakes alone unless you’re really right for the character, huh?


The Fury

Viewed – 29 November 2013  Blu-ray

Growing up this was one film I kept catching on TV, and it left a long standing imprint on me as a movie fan.  Brian De Palma’s 1978 thriller was sort-of his follow up to Carrie, exploring again psychic telekinetic individuals, this time two instead of one and bringing back Carrie’s Amy Irving now alongside screen legend Kirk Douglas.

Douglas is a secret agent whose son has powerful telekinetic abilities that his shady friend, John Cassavetes wants to take advantage of.  After an explosive opening where Douglas is betrayed and his son kidnapped – we switch to 11 months later where we meet Gillian, a young woman only just discovering her abilities who seems to have a psychic connection with Douglas’ son – and therefore becomes of interest both to Douglas and Cassavetes.


With a haunting, eerie score by John Williams and several stand-out set-pieces (the fairground ride, the slow-motion institute escape) this is De Palma at full tilt.  Strangely it remains one of the famed director’s lesser known efforts, but with a solid turn from Douglas and an emotional performance from the often underrated Amy Irving – I still got a kick out of this, even all these years later.  It’s still scary, especially with Douglas’ son’s powerful, malevolent incidents (hovering in the air in a darkened room, the murder of a woman by making her body spin…) although at times it resembles a 70s cop show with unfortunate comedy bits – and for a movie often labelled as horror – gore and scares are infrequent.  Overall though this is one 70s movie I highly recommend seeing again.

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is decent.  The picture is vivid if at times a little soft and over-saturated but in good shape mostly – and the sound punchy and fitting to the period. The 4.0 DTS soundtrack can jump about at times from clear dialogue to an echoey locked in a closet sound (?), so I found the 2.0 soundtrack the most pleasing.  Extras are also plentiful with documentaries, interviews, an isolated music score, a nice booklet with a new write up on the movie, and a reversible sleeve with new art work.  Again another stellar job from Arrow.


(the movie): 4 /5

(the Blu-ray): 3.5 /5