Carrie (1976) – Film Review
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
By Sarah Morgan
Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel, but is it also his best? Well, the jury’s out on that one, but I would certainly suggest that its 1976 film version, directed by Brian De Palma from a Lawrence D Cohen screenplay, is the greatest cinematic adaptation of his work.
There will be some who argue that The Shining is the better film, and they’re right, it is, but as fans know, Stanley Kubrick played fast and loose with the original text, so much so that King denounced the movie and wrote his own version for TV. So, in some senses, Kubrick’s take isn’t really an adaptation at all.
But I digress…
“Revenge on her tormentors”
The stars really did seem to align for Carrie. At the time, De Palma was still something of a cult director with low-budget offerings such as Greetings, Sisters and Phantom of the Paradise on his CV. His big first success came earlier in 1976 with Obsession; Carrie then cemented his name.
He admits that Sissy Spacek wasn’t his first choice to play the title role. However, she blew him away during her audition and it’s now hard to imagine anyone but her portraying the vulnerable 16-year-old who uses her telekinetic powers to take revenge on her tormentors.
The director was also blessed with his supporting cast, which includes a young John Travolta, Amy Irving and Nancy Allen (De Palma’s future wife), as well as Piper Laurie, who was returning to acting after a hiatus and received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance as Carrie’s evangelical mother (Spacek was also nominated in the Best Actress category).
Other aspects of the film, including the production design (by Jack Fisk, Spacek’s husband), Mario Tosi’s cinematography and Pino Donaggio’s soundtrack, all combine to make the film a masterpiece. And, of course, there’s that shock ending that still gets you, even when you know it’s coming.
Others have tried to replicate the atmosphere in subsequent adaptations and sequels, but all have failed. If you only ever seen one take on the novel, this should be it – forget the rest.
Arrow has done a wonderful job of restoring the film from the original negative to create a sumptuous 4K rendering. What’s more, it’s packed full of special features, including archive interviews with the cast, who discuss auditioning simultaneously for Carrie and Star Wars, with both De Palma and George Lucas in the room. Crew members are also featured, retelling their roles in creating what is undeniably a horror classic.
- 4K restoration from the original camera negative
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-rayTM presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
- Lossless mono and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtracks
- Optional English 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
- 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
- Comparing Carrie - visual essay comparing the various versions and adaptations of Carrie across the years
- Alternate TV opening
- Image gallery
- TV spots
- Radio spots
- Carrie trailer reel
- Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and new artwork by Laz Marquez
- Limited edition 40-page perfect bound book featuring writing on the film by Neil Mitchell, author of Devil's Advocates: Carrie, a reprint of the Final Girls' 40th anniversary Carriezine, and an archive interview with Brian De Palma
- Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and new artwork by Laz Marquez
- Six double-sided collector's postcards