Discs Are Rated
review by Zach B. and Anthony D.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving,
William Katt, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, John Travolta
Screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen
From the novel by Stephen King
Directed by Brian DePalma
Retail Price: $24.98
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, English Mono,
English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, French
Subtitles, Scene Selections
Stephen King's mind may have given her birth, but in the
hands of Brian DePalma "Carrie" came to magnificent life. A
mature macabre tale which most adults can identify, whether
once the givers or receivers of hurtful high school antics.
Herein Carietta White is the victim, make that VICTIM. She
lives with her single mother, Margaret whose religious
fervor and fanaticism hasn't earned her much respect in the
small town where they reside. Carrie is the epitome of
repression, sexual and otherwise. She dresses in ill-fitting
clothes sewn by her mother, whose fashion sense is as
outmoded as her revivalistic take on religion. Carrie can't
even hit a volleyball on the court during gym class.
Constant brow-beating at home, coupled with the complete
contempt of her peers has so introverted Carrie that a mouse
has more character. But suddenly with the onrush of her
womanhood, the flow which comes from Carrie is not merely
resigned to flesh and blood; for with the coming of menses,
Carrie's subconscious creates a telekinetic power capable of
annihilation in epic proportions. It is a power which comes
with the blood, a power (if Margaret White is to be
believed) that started with Eve and has transcended through
the bloodlines of the weaker sex.
When Lawrence D. Cohen adapted King's debut novel for the
screen, he chose to concentrate on the power of the blood,
and director DePalma lays out that sanguine fluid in gothic
over saturation. Once Carrie's own menstrual blood is
displayed in the shocked and traumatized hands, the image of
blood remains a constant factor in the dialogue as well as
cinematography. It's a Grand Guignol device that enriches
this inside-out take on the classic "Cinderella" story, and
turns it on its ear. For who is Carrie, but a modern-day
Cinderella, who gets her chance to go to the ball, be
treated as royalty (she is elected Prom "Queen") until...
(it's no wonder that "Carrie" has registered with so many
young women who were raised on that fairy tale)...well,
Carrie's midnight revenge is a far cry from Cinderella's
"they lived happily ever after."
I believe that "Carrie" has become a part of our national
consciousness, so only a brief plot outline should suffice:
The pathetic Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) literally becomes a
woman under the cleansing school locker room showers.
Thinking that her ignorance of things sexual is a reason for
mockery, the girls (led by Sue Snell and Chris Hargenson)
toss tampons at her with the chant-like cries of "Plug it
up!" Carrie's agony grows and an electric light blows up.
Kindly gym teacher, Miss Collins, reprimands the girls, and
comforts Carrie. In the principal's office, the many
mistakes of the principal calling her "Cassie," causes an
ashtray to fling itself from the desk. As Carrie walks home,
a child on a bike calls her "Creepy Carrie!," and is
promptly thrown by some force from his bike.Carrie is sent
home to her strange mother, who proclaims that with the
blood come the boys. Margaret advises Carrie to pray. Carrie
stares into a mirror which violently breaks.
Miss Collins doles out a week-long detention and loss of
prom tickets for the shitty thing that the girls did to
Carrie, and as she takes on the force of a drill sergeant,
Chris vows revenge while Sue thinks of a better plan.
Sympathetic to Carrie's plight, Sue has her boyfriend Tommy,
a guy with looks and brains, ask Carrie to be his date for
the prom. After much cajoling, Carrie relents, if only so
that Margaret will not see him at their door. In the
meantime, Sue's plan for revenge takes on a diabolical tone,
as she has her boyfriend slaughter several squealing pigs.
When the prom day arrives, Maragaret is shocked by
Carrie's hand-made pink dress, calling it red, the color of
sin - - and begging Carrie to stay at home and pray with
her, lest everyone laughs at her. Carrie and Tommy are the
hit of the prom, if only because of a stuffed ballot-box,
and are crowned king and queen. Then in a stunning display
of film making, Chris' plan is set in motion. With the tug
of a rope, a bucket of pig's blood drenches Carrie - - and
everybody laughs at her. Wrong thing to do, as Carrie's
telekinetic powers now seem to have a life of their own: she
creates a holocaust at the prom, dispenses with the villains
and returns home to a purifying bath. Instead of comforting
Carrie in her moment of despair, Margaret plunges a kitchen
knife into her, declaiming Biblical verse "Thou shalt not
suffer a witch to live." Carrie and Margaret remain in
locked in turmoil as the house itself implodes upon them and
rocks torrentially pour down from the skies. Following a
peaceful moment, DePalma still has one last shock up his
I could go on forever about the incredible cast "Carrie"
contains. Following a fifteen year, self-imposed retirement,
Piper Laurie returned to the screen as Margaret White. It is
a role that re-identified her, and re-affirmed her status as
one of the un-heralded great film actresses. In a tricky
role, Laurie is allowed her over-the-top moments of
religious fervor which in lesser-talented hands would cause
unintentional gales of laughter (as it is, the laughter is
earned as that thin line between fantasy and illusion is
trod). Laurie's peers were in on the joke, as they rewarded
her with a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best
Supporting Actress. Two television stars, ironically linked
to the same ABC series, launched commendable careers with
"Carrie:" Betty Buckley and John Travolta. (Travolta was
engaged to "Eight is Enough" star Diana Hylands, whose
untimely death brought Buckley to the Bradford fold as
stepmother Abby). Buckley portrays the only sympathetic
character in the film - - the gym teacher Miss Collins, with
an utterly believable empathy, while Travolta plays upon his
"Welcome Back Kotter" sweathog persona as Chris' partner in
love and crime, Billy Nolan. In a very strange turn of
events, Betty Buckley would become further associated with
"Carrie" for all time, when she took over the role of the
musical Margaret White in an infamous theatrical fiasco,
more on that later. Amy Irving is stunningly beautiful, baby
fat and all, as the remorseful Sue, whose story arc is
well-developed right on through to the final zinger.
Irving's real life mother, Priscilla Pointer, plays her on
screen alcoholic mother in two brief but telling scenes.
Making their debuts in film are a trio of gals who would
continue the bloody reign at the box office: Nancy Allen as
Chris has the difficult task of making the villainy
inflicted believable, she would fare better in "Dressed to
Kill" and "Blow Out," also for DePalma; P. J. Soles as a
classmate with an agenda would go on to baby-sitting
immortality in John Carpenter's "Halloween;" and most
surprising of all, is a very youthful Edie McClurg, best
know today for her voiceover work, but directed brilliantly
by Oliver Stone in his blood-fest, "Natural Born Killers"
(she's Juliette Lewis' mother in the faux sitcom sequence "I
Love Mallory). William Katt has just the right amount of
surfer boy charm as Tommy Ross, who also falls victim to
Chris' vengeful plot.
And then there's Sissy Spacek's titular turn: face it,
without Sissy, "Carrie" would be just another teen horror
flick. With Spacek, then mostly unknown, Carrie takes on
character. There is not a single moment of Spacek's Carrie
that rings false, she is that immersed in the role. And
those eyes! Soulful when listening to a poem by Tommy Ross,
scornful when she realizes the implications of the bucket of
pig's blood. Wide open beneath a shimmering veneer of blood
as she makes the most of her revenge - - there's not a trace
of pleasure in her deeds, it's a demonical gaze that demands
these deaths, as if in a catatonic state Carrie's revenge is
swift, powerful and non-judgmental (when the only person who
has been kind to Carrie is cut in half by a basketball hoop
board, you know that this comeuppance is non-selective) .
Spacek's Carrie does not thrive on this violence as say an
action hero would knowingly gloat over such bloodshed; this
holocaust is a necessary evil, and her Carrie carries it off
to the best of her abilities. In a very rare moment of
lucidity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
rewarded Spacek's brilliance with an Oscar nomination as
Best Actress - - a feat never accorded to stars of "horror"
films, and would not be repeated again until Jodie Foster's
nomination and win for "The Silence of the Lambs."
Presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, "Carrie"
features a very underwhelming transfer. Detail is decent,
but colors are a bit undersaturated and the black levels
aren't that great. Artifacts, blemishes, nicks, scratches,
pieces of dirt... you name, it's here. Very disappointing to
say the leas, as a lot of it comes together and becomes
The English mono track on "Carrie" is nothing special.
You can understand the dialgogue, but it's all so standard.
It sounds its age to be sure, and it is a little distorted.
Still, it's appropriate for what it is.
The Theatrical Trailer. Wait for the special
The sound is old, the picture is terrible and the
features are non-existant. Yes it's a good movie, but wait
for the special edition to come around.
(4/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)