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Carrie – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

A seminal film for all walks of horror, Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie will be making the leap to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray just in time for the holidays (And well before Prom season). Scream Factory will be updating the film with a brand new restoration and transfer. In addition there’s a new gallery as well as a commentary in tow. Included area all the previous extras from their release six years ago. Its a full on three disc set to devour. A few times copied but never even close to sniffing the original’s greatness (Sorry, Peter Paras), you can order this to have in your collection by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review at the bottom of this page. Release date is December 13th, so put down the pig’s blood and get a move on putting this one in your collection.

Film

Originally published 9/27/2016

At the center of the film’s terror is Carrie, a high school loner with no confidence, no friends… and no idea about the extent of her secret powers of telekinesis. But when her psychotic mother and sadistic classmates finally go too far, the once-shy teen becomes an unrestrained, vengeance-seeking powerhouse who, with the help of her ‘special gift,’ causes all hell to break loose in a famed cinematic frenzy of blood, fire and brimstone.

By the time 1976 rolled around, it was director Brian De Palma’s turn. Everyone had been awaiting his big break out.  He was on the cusp.  His USC film geek buddies had all had theirs just years before him; Martin Scorsese with Mean Streets, George Lucas on American Graffiti, Francis Ford Coppola with The Godfather, and most recently Steven Spielberg with Jaws.  De Palma was seen as one of the most talented of the bunch with a unique eye and storytelling.  Adapting hot new author Stephen King’s first novel opened that gateway and finally gave De Palma the liftoff he was looking for.

Carrie still remains one of the most unique stories to hit horror then and since.  Its been knocked off, drawn from, remade, televised and sequelized in the 40 years since its release.  The story of a young girl facing the horrors of entering womanhood with no strong parental figure or knowledge while facing the terror of bullying resonates through every generation.  However, nothing quite nailed it like De Palma’s film.  Which, aside from a chuckle at William Katt’s mane of hair, holds up amazingly well and is just as effective today as it was back when it shocked and amused audiences back in 1976.

From the opening shower sequence, it sets itself apart from all other iterations of the film.  What sets De Palma apart from his contemporaries and most filmmakers is that he’s not afraid to go there.  He brings and voyeurism to filmmaking that had only been seen in few spots in pop culture films to this point.  Carrie’s shower discovery scene is shot and plays with a look and feel of a softcore porn film or a cheerleader/women’s prison exploitation film up until the gruesome shock her getting her first period.  Things quickly change gears as Carrie freaks the hell out, combined with the girls in the lockerroom giving her the nastiest possible response.  It sets a tone for the film where it isn’t afraid to hit certain beats and makes things that might have stood out as lewd (Nancy Allen going down on Travolta) a thing of normalcy.

As horror story, it doesn’t follow any sort of particular mold or formula that had come before it.  Carrie was something different that really felt fresh and that it hadn’t been done before.  Most of the horrors come from the suspense and tension of what the bullying classmates might do to Carrie along with the sheer zaniness of her own zealot mother.  Carrie casts a telepathic power that gets hinted to here and there, but more or less this thing isn’t oozing with jump scares, scary dreams or spook scenes.  Carrie takes to dramatics and character to build to get you on a side and feel really torn apart when the protagonist goes on a bloody rampaging massacre at the end of the film.  Its a mixed mess of emotion and its the perfect cross that De Palma manages to pull off.  You’re then rewarded with one of cinema’s greatest jump scares for the ride.

Carrie is notable for being a jump off for many young actors of the time and resurrecting Piper Laurie’s career (Nominated for an Academy Award for the film).  Pretty notably its the screen debut of John Travolta and being a further break out of Sissy Spacek.  PJ Soles also dons the red cap and makes one of her first appearances too.  Despite the obvious people, I really feel Nancy Allen dropped a break out/star making performance for herself in this movie.  Not only does she look gorgeous and has a certain glow to her, but her performance is an all-timer in the category of “so-good you hate them so much you want to punch them” roles.  She is SOOOOO damn nasty in this movie, but its only because she is killing it her role.  I honestly think over the years, she’s garnered appreciation, but maybe not enough as she serves as one of the strongest elements.  Allen is a fun, meaty part and its also quite powerful in terms of her effectiveness.

Much has been written over the annals of time regarding Carrie.  Its a seminal piece both the horror genre and essential films of the 1970s.  De Palma puts his skills to masterwork here, though he apparently isn’t a fan of his split screen usage in this film and the big prom sequence had to be saved and rethought in the editing room.  The film displays a slew of young breakout and powerful performances from its cast.  And a lot of this is credit to such strong source material from King.  It was the perfect storm of director, adaptations, changes for the better, casting and such that made this movie feel like lighting in a bottle.  Its been imitated, copied, re-adapted, followed up and remade to various degrees of success and failure, but nothing has even come close to holding a candle to this original film.  Its just perfect and pretty much timeless the way it stands.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review from the standard Blu-ray, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/DetailCarrie debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a 2022 4K scan of the original camera negative. And it looks quite lovely and more refined that before. A little bit more fine details in a really terrific filmic look that has a really nice 70s sheen to it. Color saturation takes a tick up and the film has a great deal of depth and clarity to it that really makes the filmmaking on display even more impressive than it already is.

Depth:  Depth of field is quite impressive and immersive. The film looks very big and many of the interiors are wide open and have a good pushback. Camera movements have confidence and display even more of a three dimensional look. No issues occur with blurring or jittering from rapid action, cuts or camera movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural, with good instance of contrast to display color as well as sharpening and defining the image. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are lovely with greens and reds really showing off not only on fabrics but in the color filters which done really bleed, but find more definition. HDR really helps in some of the more contrasting moments but adds glow to lit signs and the raging fire in the finale.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from shower discovery to hand grab from the grave. Freckles, moles, lip texture, make up, blemishes, dried blood and more come through clear as day from any given angle or distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Dual Channel Mono DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

DynamicsCarrie returns with the same audio options as before. My comments are from my previous review at that time. The 5.1 track seems to follow the previous comments on it being front heavy.  It does carry a weight and feels quite loud with some good refined effects presentation.  However, I actually recommend the 2.0 track as its very full and feels natural and is likely more true to the actual experience of the film.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Doors slamming, jump scares, fire roaring, a car crash and a house tumbling down all pump your sub for vibration.

Surround Sound Presentation:  As mentioned earlier, this is a very front heavy track.  During the famous prom scene, there is some activity in the rear, but of all places that’s where you’d want it to be a bit more fun.  Not bad, but you’re going to get a better experience with the 2.0 in my opinion.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is all clear, crisp and loud. Nobody is going to laugh at you.

Extras

Carrie – Collector’s Edition is a 3-Disc set with 1 4K disc and 2 standard Blu-rays. Aside from new the commentary track, all bonus material is found on the 2 standard Blu-ray discs.

Blu-ray Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • with Joe Aisenberg, author of Studies in the Horror Film: CARRIE

Newspaper Ad Gallery (HD, 4:29)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:06)

The “CARRIE” Trailer Gallery (HD, 6:09)

Blu-ray Disc 2

Interviews

  • Writing Carrie (HD, 29:07) – An interview with screenwriter Lawrence Cohen.  He discusses his fascination with the book and King’s raw and real reflection of high school bullying.  Other topics, Lawrence mentions are the pushback challenges from the studio on stuff they didn’t want to use, to adapting and how the different mediums don’t lend things to one another and changes need to happen.  He also touches upon the stage versions of it.
  • Shooting Carrie (HD, 15:22) – An interview with the director of photography Mario Tosi.  The cinematographer talks about his lighting practices and inspirations.  He goes over how he found Brian De Palma (whom he’d never heard of) brilliant to work with and how he really challenged him and had a complete grasp of the set and material. He compares how different De Palma was than working with Joseph Sargent, that De Palma really gave him the freedom to take his instruction and stage it himself and allowed him to open some of his creative juices.
  • Cutting Carrie (HD, 25:09) – An interview with editor Paul Hirsch.  Paul talks about his history with De Palma and cutting his films.  He mentions that on the lot De Palma and George Lucas were friends because they had beards.  Hirsch infers that he was offered Star Wars but felt he had to do Carrie instead. He also mentions that the Star Wars and Carrie casting sessions were going on at the same time. Then he talks how some of the film is hard for him to watch because of stuff he felt was so well done.  And yes, he goes over the end jump scare.
  • Casting Carrie (HD, 16:03) – An interview with casting director Hariet B. Helberg. Some interesting trivia from this; Sondra Locke was considered Carrie.  Nancy Allen the most difficult to get through as she did not get through the first wave of studio approvals, but proved everyone wrong once shooting began.  Amy Irving was not cast as Carrie originally, and was a leftover from Star Wars casting sessions.  Louise Fletcher was a backup plan to Piper Laurie had they not got her. She’s a fan of the remakes as they make fresh a story that will always remain classic.
  • Acting Carrie (SD, 42:42) – This is a carry over from a previous DVD edition that wasn’t on the original Blu-ray release.  Its a retrospective documentary featuring key cast and Brian De Palma reflecting on the film.  Its a bit older and more studio-made safer.
  • More Acting Carrie (HD, 20:19) – Featuring interviews with Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, William Katt, Piper Laurie, Edie McClurg and PJ Soles.  Those that were involved with the original “Acting” featurette do repeat some things, but they are quite a bit more candid, loose, fun and in depth with their stories of their casting, working with De Palma and their thankfulness for the legacy of the film.
  • Visualizing Carrie (SD, 41:33) – Another carry over that is Brian De Palma going in depth on his take on King’s seminal novel.
  • Bucket of Blood (HD, 23:53) – An interview with composer Pino Donaggio.  Pino speaks Italian and its hard subtitled in English. He talks Paul Hirsch hooking him up with De Palma and that the two always need a translator still to this day.  He talks how he wanted to put homages to Bernard Hermann in the Carrie score as he was the original intended composer for the film before his death. He goes through the movie talking his different pieces, and talks about the cast, waiting for reviews and how the film sits over time.  He never met Stephen King, he says, but would like to know what he thought of the film.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (HD, 11:25) – Sean Clark visits the shooting locations in present day from the film.

Carrie, The Musical (SD, 6:23) – Interviews with the people who produced the stage adaptation of Carrie.

TV Spots (SD, 3:11) 

Radio Spots (HD, 1:29) 

Still Gallery: Rare Behind-The-Scenes (HD, 4:54) 

Still Gallery: Posters and Lobby Cards (HD, 3:56) 

Stephen King and the Evolution of Carrie Text Gallery – A piece by Laurent Bouzereau documenting the history of the novel, adaptation process and comparing the book and film of Stephen King’s Carrie.

Summary

Carrie remains one of the seminal horror films of the 1970s and one of the best film adaptations of Stephen King’s work. Scream Factory has updated their immaculate previous release with a beautiful new transfer with good breathing room that improves upon its look. They’ve added a couple little new extras here and retained the vault of wealth they had before. A definite pickup to upgrade for horror fans, Carrie fans, De Palma fans or people who like good movies.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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