Summer 76. The UK was in the middle of a heat wave and consequently a hosepipe ban and drought but in the US the brat pack directors were awash with their first taste of success. Spielberg riding high after ‘Jaws’ was now working on ‘Close encounters of the third kind’, Scorsese was about to unleash, ‘Taxi Driver’, Lucas had ‘American Graffiti’ and was working on some obscure little sci-fi film and Brian de Palma was finishing off a low budget studio film called, ‘Carrie’ based on the debut novel of an unknown author called Stephen King
De Palma had never been in the running to direct the film and had to fight to get the gig which had been adapted from the novel by Lawrence Cohen whose first draft had bought in a storyline that included an investigation by a government funded Commission which was quickly dropped and reverted back to the novel. De Palma and George Lucas, who was about to start on Star Wars, in a bid to cut costs, shared a casting audition for their respective films. Travolta, then best known for his TV work was cast along with Amy Irving and Nancy Allen ( who would later become Mrs Brian De Palma) were all cast in their first significant film roles. But the title role went to Sissy Spacek who didn’t even audition and at the time despite having starred in Terrance Malick’s ‘Badlands’ was now working as a set decorator on DePalma’s 1974 film, ‘Phantom of the Paradise’. She almost didn’t get the role and she would co –star with Piper Laurie as her mother who herself had all but retired from acting and it was her husband who persuaded her to take the role
The cast of Carrie was a nearly all female one and it was not to be an easy shoot for many starting with the opening scene where the actresses were to be filmed naked in a sports changing room. De Palma proved demanding with actress Betty Buckley having to slap Nancy Allen in one scene. It took 30 takes. Actress PJ Soles burst an ear drum in the climactic scene having been hit by water from a raging hosepipe used in the shot. And it’s that climatic scene at the prom where Carrie as part of a cruel prank finds herself drenched n in a bucket of pig’s blood in the film’s most iconic image. The film is full of de Palma’s trademark and brilliantly constructed set pieces that included his trademark slo-mo and split screen and as with so much of his work it was heavily influenced by the films of Hitchcock.
Carrie was a film full of great set pieces that would define DePalma’s future work but its perhaps the very end shot of the film that is memorable. A dream sequence set at a grave it was a scene that was not in the book but saw audiences get one of cinemas great jump scares and to reveal it here would spoil the scene for anyone who’s not seen the film
Carrie was a huge success and saw both Spacek and Laurie nominated for Oscars and the box office bonanza saw Stephen King’s book sales increase and the financial success enabled him to become a full time writer. The rest is history as he went on to become prolific and arguably the most successful horror writer ever.
This new release of the disc has been restored in 4K from the original negative and this collector’s edition provides the definitive release of a horror classic with a superb array of bonus features that includes….
- 4K restoration from the original camera negative
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray™ 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
Though there’s an equal balance between archive features from previous releases of the film the new features are worth a look but what it really misses is a commentary from DePalma although as he is now 83 years of age perhaps it’s a too much for him to recount a film he made almost 50 years ago. But Carrie, though not as influential as The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween remains one of the great crowd pleasing horror films from the 1970s alongside the likes of The Omen and Alien and this 4K UHD edition is a superb reminder of that.
related feature : The story behind the shot – Carrie
Here’s the Carrie trailer….