Plot: What’s it about?
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a young woman with little joy in her life, at home or in school. At home, her overbearing mother punishes her for everything, as well as berates her with verbal tirades, often for no good reason. She is abused all the time, sometimes beaten by her mother, sometimes locked inside a closet, never loved or cared for, to say the least. But her situation at school is just as bad, as the other students torment her by calling her names, picking on her, and playing cruel little jokes on her. When Carrie has an extreme reaction to her first period in the showers after gym, the other girls scream at her and make cruel jokes, which results in real trouble. Carrie is sent home to her mother, while the girls are punished and warned if future abuse of Carrie takes place, they will be banned from prom. But one girl decides to risk it and continues to torture Carrie, which means she ends up banned from prom, as promised. So now she wants revenge in the worst way and plans a massive trick to ruin Carrie’s night, but little does she know what it will cause, as a force wells up within Carrie…
MGM has chosen to return to Carrie on DVD and this time, the results are terrific and if you own the original release, prepare to upgrade. In addition to a brand new anamorphic widescreen transfer, this disc also sports some cool extras, as well as a low price point. This film was need of a new release to be sure, as the prior edition was poor and didn’t come close to the kind of treatment Carrie deserves. I love this movie and even after all these years, it hasn’t lost a step in terms of effectiveness, at least to me. Brian DePalma (Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise) supplies excellent direction, while the cast is nothing less superb, even the smaller players seem in fine form. This is the perfect blend of horror and supernatural thriller, one that takes you from the start and never eases up, a very powerful and memorable film. Carrie has remained a mainstay of horror and thriller fans, as it still holds firm and never seems to lose steam, and in truth, I don’t think it ever will. This movie is highly recommended and in a release like this, anyone interested should pick up this disc, without even the slights hesitation.
In the title role here is Sissy Spacek, who not only gives a riveting performance, it is a haunting one at that. I think that while Stephen King’s story and Brian DePalma’s direction are major factors here, it is Spacek’s performance that makes Carrie. She has a massive role at the center of the film, but she never shows the burden, always in prime form here. I am always impressed with her work here, even after countless times of watching the movie, as she nails the part from start to finish, never letting up for a second. She is able to seem so alone and helpless, it just perfectly sets the stage for the film’s later events, I think. You can also see Spacek in such films as Coal Miner’s Daughter, ‘Night Mother, JFK, The Straight Story, and Affliction. The cast also includes Piper Laurie (The Faculty, The Grass Harp), John Travolta (Battlefield Earth, Swordfish), and Amy Irving (Traffic, The Rage: Carrie 2).
Video: How does it look?
Carrie is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is still a flawed visual effort, but it improves on existing versions and in the end, looks more than solid. Yes, the grain is still thick at times, but it never alters the elements much and at least in my case, distraction was never present at all. The print used looks cleaner than prior releases and aside from the grain, defects are minimal and that’s good news. The colors look natural and show no problems, while flesh tones are normal and consistent also. The grain does impact the contrast at times, but to an extreme degree, so I won’t complain too much. No, this isn’t a pristine visual presentation, but it is the best home video release to date, so fans should be pleased.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a little thin and dated at times, but still provides a better than average audio experience. This won’t blow you away by any means, but the surrounds are well used and the mix has an immersive texture. A step above most remixes of films from this time, to be sure. The surrounds are used in many scenes and when needed, they can kick out fierce power, which is great news. But the subtle cues and dialogue aren’t lost in the mix, as all the elements have been balanced in proper form here. This disc also includes mono tracks in English, Spanish, and French, as well as subtitles in French and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This isn’t called a special edition for no good reason, as it packs a lot of supplements, including two wonderful documentaries. The first is Acting Carrie and as you should be able to guess, it focuses on interviews with cast members, though some of the crew are also present. I was very taken with the comments of the performers, especially those of Sissy Spacek of course, but everyone seemed to have some good information to pass on. Some discuss their auditions, others remember stories from the production, and other times, the speakers just bask in the afterglow that Carrie has afforded them. The second piece is Visualizing Carrie and here, we hear more technical information from the crew, with DePalma back and some key cast members as well. This piece is packed with insight and even has a reconstruction of the famed deleted scene, which really sparked as one of the disc’s highlights for me. Both of these pieces run about forty-five minutes and are well made, in depth looks behind the scenes, cool stuff indeed. A humorous featurette on the failed musical version of Carrie is fun to watch, but the lack of footage or even stills limits the experience. This disc also includes extensive production notes on how the material reached the screen, an animated montage of still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.