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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
One of my all time favorite horror films is Brian De Palma's "Carrie" from 1976.
I saw it three times in it's theatrical release with three different people just
to guage their reaction. Each time the famous shock ending of the hand coming
out of the grave made them and the rest of the viewers scream. It's one of those movies
that works best with an audience for a collective reaction. The only other picture
I saw more than three times theatrically at it's time of release was "Jaws" the year
before. I went to that five times. Both movies influenced my career and if you screen
my latest picture, "What Really Frightens You", you'll see what I'm talking about. I even
incorporated a shock epilogue after the end credits. When I saw "Carrie" at age 19, I
determined to include a shock ending in one of my movies and I did 33 years later.

I've always been a horror buff and even a gore fan but with specific criteria. I like
gore only if it's contained within characterization. I've never been a fan of 'splatter'
movies nothwithstanding the fact that I made one back in 1983 ("Splatter University").
It's not dramatic or emotionally involving to see strangers hacked up or killed but when
you become emotionally involved with the protagonists, gore can be not only effective
but give reoccuring nightmares to audiences.

"Carrie" certainly delivers the goods in the climax. For a horror film it's interesting to note
that all of the shock and thrills come at the end. The rest is character development. It
was a low budget movie made for a half a million. It has better production value than
De Palma's early counter-culture movies like "Greetings" and "Hi Mom". His cast of unknowns
(at the time) were perfect for their roles and generated sympathy or spite. Most were rejects
from "Star Wars" which was being cast simultaneously by the director's friend, George Lucas.

Sissy Spacek is brilliant as the harassed and picked on wallflower. I could sympathize with her and who wouldn't covertly cheer on her revenge of the tormentors. Teenagers could
be brutally cruel. The rest of the cast is equally effective from Amy Irving's sympathetic friend to Travolta's doltish villain. Piper Laurie is demented as the religous fanatic mother ("Mommie Dearest" in the extreme) and also funny. As a kid who was evicted from Sunday School as a trouble-maker, I could relate to that as well. William Katt is also charming as the goofy jock persuaded to take her to the dance by his girlfriend but then bonding with Carrie to their mutual surprise.

De Palma's direction is very gimmicky (slow motion, split screen) but it works within this context. The climax is memorable with Piper Laurie crucified with kitchen utensils. Pino Dinnagio's music is also excellent and atmospheric. I bought the soundtrack album and used to play it all the time. The new 5.1 re-mix of the original mono soundtrack is an improvement but also shows it's low budget origin.

As for the visuals...

Well here's where we run into problems with blu ray. As I've mentioned many times before,
digital exagerates whatever attributes or liabilities there were in the principal photography.
Working with limited funds and still somewhat influenced by the "New Hollywood" counter-culture movement he was formerly part of, De Palma shot "Carrie" with little light and some defusion filters. Which made it look a bit grainy and soft in it's Eastmancolor theatrical prints back in 1976. Now it looks very grainy and defused on blu ray. Of course no one was anticipating digital transfers decades ago. It certainly is an improvement from earlier standard definition DVDs which looked really fuzzy but don't expect razor sharp, fine grain imagery here. I believe the movie is so effective you can overlook this aspect of the production and I don't state this mildly since I'm an advocate of "Technicolor" style cinematography which is what I replicate in my feature films.

It is what it is so I still recommend the blu ray but you'll need some tolerance of seventies' style grain (when 'grain' was 'in'). If you can accept that, then you'll enjoy this stylish thriller that put both De Palma and Stephen King on the map.
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