Review: Carrie

Blu-ray: Carrie (1976) 

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy 16 year old girl who lives with her ‘eccentric’ religiously obsessed mother in a small American town. Carrie is bullied by her contemporaries, mainly because of her annoyingly odd mother Margaret (Piper Laurie), wild haired with a mad-but-sexy-vibe, who turns up at her ‘friends’ houses slapping her bible and wanting to talk about redemption through the word of the Lord. Director Brian De Palma’s 1976 America was already fed up of Preachers.

Spacek’s Carrie is at first shy, terrified of her mother, and scared in general, and the look of her in this film is almost alien-like with other worldly wide eyes, and pale freckled skin. We first meet Carrie during the infamous shower scene right at the beginning of the film, a genius move from De Palma; he sets out the story and characters in one sweeping tracking shot. Here we see Amy Irving as ‘nice’ Sue Snell, Nancy Allen as number one bully, sex machine and spoilt shit Chris Hargensen, P.J. Soles as kooky Norma Watson and Betty Buckley as kind hearted teacher Miss Collins. As the camera caresses various fully nude nubile starlets (yes you see 70’s bush) from its beautiful new 4k restoration from the original negative, we zoom in on Carrie, who after lulling us into more naked, softly shot and angelically soundtracked naked soapy rubbing, starts her period for the very first time in the shower, and screaming for help runs amongst these girls, smearing her menstruation on them as she cries for help. She thinks she is dying.

Watching Carrie does bring back many unpleasant memories for me, as I was bullied at school, and this portrayal of a total nonsensical hatred for a girl who is a bit different because her mum is fucked up really resonates. Allen’s performance as Chris is amazing, she is utterly believable as a complete cunt of a girl who always gets what she wants (by any means). All the performances in this film hit their mark, and this is much more than just a gory horror film, it’s a film that casts its eye over people’s worth, how we treat each other and for me, it’s filled with delicious, and fantasy-satisfying revenge.

Based on Stephen King’s same titled novel, what appears to be a story about high school girls being bitches, morphs into outright horror in the last 10 minutes, and the thing that elevates this above a lot of other horrors is its own self-belief and dare I say…classiness. How many other films about a bullied girl who discovers she can move things with the power of her mind would work? It sounds corny, but in De Palma’s hands this is a stone cold classic that still resonates now. That quest for perfection and others approval is more intense than 1976 thanks to the digital age and social media, and I wonder if any young girls watching this would (like myself) fantasize about the deaths of their bullies? Even now I feel envy towards the character of Carrie as being able to electrocute, cut in half, crush in a crash, set fire to and stab to death in the shape of Saint Sebastian is something I would probably have done too. Phew. I even forgive De Palma for the terrible ‘buying a tux’ scene.

LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • 4K restoration from the original negative
  • High Definition (1080p) presentation
  • DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and uncompressed 1.0 mono soundtracks
  • Optional subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Commentary by Lee Gambin, author of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo, and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Cultographies: Ms. 45 and Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria, recorded exclusively for this release
  • Brand-new visual essay comparing the various versions and adaptations of Carrie across the years
  • Acting Carrie, archive featurette containing interviews with director Brian De Palma, actors Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt and others
  • More Acting Carrie, additional interviews with the cast of the film
  • Visualising Carrie: From Words to Images, archive featurette containing interviews with De Palma, writer Lawrence D. Cohen, editor Paul Hirsch and art director Jack Fisk
  • Singing Carrie: Carrie the Musical, archive featurette on the stage musical adaptation of King’s novel
  • Writing Carrie, an interview with writer Lawrence D. Cohen
  • Shooting Carrie, an interview with cinematographer Mario Tosi
  • Cutting Carrie, an interview with editor Paul Hirsch
  • Casting Carrie, an interview with casting director Harriet B. Helberg
  • Bucket of Blood, an interview with composer Pino Donaggio
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, a look back at the locations of Carrie
  • Gallery
  • Trailer
  • TV spots
  • Radio spots
  • Carrie trailer reel
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell, author of Devil’s Advocates: Carrie, and numerous reprints and interviews

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Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films.