The original Stephen King adaptation returns to BD with a new 4K restoration and oodles of extras
Few writers have had as big an impact on the horror genre as Stephen King, and since the tail end of the 1970s US studios and television networks have fallen over themselves to translate his novels and short stories to the screen. We're now at the point where King has nearly 250 TV/movie writing credits to his name.
The quality of the many King-related films has been extremely variable, with far more bad than good. Of the latter, there are a few classics – not least the very first of them all: 1976's Carrie.
Directed by Brian De Palma and adapted from the author's debut novel, Carrie has been rightly lauded for both its virtuoso visual style (De Palma goes to town with split-screen effects during its big finale) and the astonishing performances of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie as the shy, introverted Carrie and her domineering, devoutly religious mother.
However, for our money there's another figure who deserves a large share of the credit: screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen. His script for the film is the very model of efficiency; stripping away all but the core elements from King's novel in order to focus solely on the story's key emotional and dramatic beats.
Picture: Based on the same 4K scan of the original camera negative that served as the basis for the 2016 Shout! Factory US release, this new UK disc offers a major upgrade on the old MGM platter.
Not only does Arrow's 1.85:1 Full HD presentation provide a more accurate colour palette, the film grain is far more refined, unlocking extra detail in the image. Yes, the intentionally hazy look of many shots means that Carrie will never be the sharpest-looking film you'll see, but outside of a true 4K release, it's hard to see how this encode could be bettered.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: The disc includes both the original LPCM mono track and a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix. The latter isn't hugely involving, but does provides a palpably wider soundstage across its L/C/R spread for the chaos Carrie unleashes at the prom. It also provides Pino Donaggio's score with a little more scope to breathe and draw you into the film.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: Arrow has worked some amazing disc encoding alchemy with this release. Whereas Shout! Factory's US Blu-ray relegated all of its supplementary goodies to a second disc, Arrow has taken all of that, plus a bunch of new extras, and fitted it all onto a single BD50 platter alongside the film itself with absolutely no loss of image quality for the feature presentation.
The extras add up to an exclusive chat-track from critics Lee Gambin and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas; the 2001 Making of…documentaries Visualising Carrie (42 minutes) and Acting Carrie (43 minutes); the 2016 follow-up documentary More Acting Carrie (20 minutes); a brief account of the flop Carrie Broadway musical; extensive interviews; a look at the film's locations; the alternate TV opening to the film; a visual essay comparing the book's three screen adaptations; plus trailers and TV spots.
An exclusive 60-page book, packed with interviews and essays, is the icing on the cake.
Extras rating: 5/5
We say: The definitive hi-def release of this iconic horror flick. No genre fan should be without it.
Carrie: Limited Edition, Arrow Video, Region B BD, £30
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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