Carrie is far more than the familiar tale of a girl with psychokenesis. It is a story many of us are all too familiar with, the cruelty of high school and the awkwardness of growing up
One of the leaders in horror novels with many of them made into movies is Stephen King. The first King novel produced as a film was the 1972 Carrie. It is also one of the truest to the book and best done. (Notable exception is the Stand, also on DVD) Carrie is far more than the familiar tale of a girl with psychokenesis, it is a story many of us are all too familiar with, the cruelty of high school and the awkwardness of growing up. Carrie White is a pretty girl that is painfully shy, terribly sheltered and unpopular because she does not associate with the ‘In’ crowd. While showering after gym class one day Carrie gets her first period. She is so naïve that she thinks she is dying. The girls are horrible, they torment poor Carrie by throwing sanitary napkins and such at her. What makes matters worse is at home her ultra conservative, Bible thumping mother tells her it is her fault for being sinful and locks her in a closet to pray. The girls are punished with a very physical detention and one girl, Chris, the leader of the pack, rebels and plots to have her street punk boyfriend get back at Carrie. The rest of the story is so famous that it would be redundant here. Suffice it to say the story is far better than I can let on here.
The acting is great. It represents a collection of soon to be famous actors such as Amy Irvin, Sissy Spacek, Nancy Allen and John Travolta. Add to this some ‘adults’ such as Piper Lauire as the over the top mother of Carrie and Betty Buckley as the sympathetic gym teacher and you got some really good acting. Nancy Allen is great as the pretty, popular Chris. She is snotty, manipulative and vindictive and every action, moment and word of dialogue shows it. Typical of early Stephen King the horror in this film is not the supernatural abilities of Carrie, the evil stems from the innate rotten nature of Chris. It takes an actress like Allen that can play over the top without going into unbelievable to make this work. Spacek is a diamond in the rough here. This was here first big movie and it allowed her to demonstrate great talent. She makes you feel sorry for Carrie. Your heat goes out to this slip of a girl that is so humiliated at school ad unable to find a safe haven at home. You want her to get back at the in crowd and are glad when she does.
The director, Brian De Palma, is a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. This is obvious in most of his work but it hits you over the head in Carrie. The high school is the Bates HS. Every time Carrie uses her powers you hear the violin cord from Psycho. The mother going after Carrie with a knife cast the same shadow as ‘Mother’ in Psycho. Even the camera angles are the same as the Hitchcock classic. Still, the very experimental mind of De Palma got its start in movies like this and it is interesting to see how he initially emulated Hitchcock’s style and later transformed it to his own. Watch ‘Snake Eyes’ after this to contrast styles.
The disc is excellent. The mono soundtrack was remixed to Dolby 5.1. As with most such major remixes the sound field is concentrated up front. Still, during scenes where it counts the rear speakers and sub woofer come alive. The video print could have been better. It has some graininess to it but considering it’s an older film we can forgive them. After all, this is one of the best ways to preserve such film classics. A collectors must have.Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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