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.
Brian 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.
I 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.
I 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