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Due to a mix-up, this Carrie: Collector’s Edition  Blu-ray (and other Scream Factory Blu-rays) arrived after their release. Because of this and because I’m sure most of us have made up our minds on this particular movie, the Feature section will be extra short in order to focus on the new disc’s A/V and extras. Thank you for understanding.

Feature


Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is 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! (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)

 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD
Carrie is my favourite Stephen King book, my favourite Stephen King adaptation, and my favourite Brian De Palma movie. These are all serious statements and I don’t make them lightly – especially not the last one, because De Palma has made at least four of my favourite movies, full stop. It’s a smart adaptation of a simple, sorrowful story told by a stylish filmmaker at the height of his powers. It’s not as quintessentially ‘De Palma-esque’ as Sisters (1973), Phantom of the Paradise (1974), or Blow Out (1981), but, even bereft of his arthouse personality and obvious Hitchcockism, I think Carrie (which still owes a considerable debt to Hitchcock) is the most successful dramatic expression of his flashiest filmmaking. It’s also still heartbreaking all these years later.

 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD

Video


For whatever reason, MGM has never been particularly invested in putting effort into Carrie on digital home video. The first DVD was barebones and non-anamorphic, and an anamorphic upgrade wasn’t on the market until 2007. Then, when they premiered it on Blu-ray in US/R1 (2010), they dropped all of the extras and supplied a weak 1080p transfer. That same version was then re-released with different cover art, much to the chagrin of fans like myself. Yes, Scream Factory’s new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes a bunch of new extras (as well as the extras that weren’t included on the last BD), but the bigger deal here is that they’ve re-scanned the original negative in 4K. What’s most important is how that video upgrade compares to the older release. So that’s what I’ve done here – Scream Factory 4K remaster on the top, original MGM BD on the bottom.

I’ll begin with the obvious improvements; namely, the comparative lack of digital artefacts and, to a lesser extent, the fact that the new transfer has considerably more information on all sides of the frame (despite both transfers being matted at 1.85:1). Given De Palma and director of photography Mario Tosi’s penchant for soft focus, hazy environments, and split diopter shots, Carrie will always be grainy and appear somewhat noisy. Judging the difference between those artefacts, specifically the slight vertical strafing and pixelated blocking of the MGM image, the 4K remaster comes out on top. The new transfer’s most obvious digital artefact is minor aliasing around its brightest red edges (the opening titles in particular). Scream’s grain textures simply appear more accurate and this fidelity extends to details and elemental separation, as the remaster has tighter edges, less posterised gradations, and very little black crush. The comparison gets more complicated when it comes to the new grading and colour timing. Clearly, there is a major difference between the two transfers and I don’t know which one is ‘correct.’ My gut reaction is that I like the boosted lavenders/blues of the MGM disc, but I have to admit that they don’t quite seem consistent with this particular movie, now that I’ve seen the alternative. The 4K’s hues are at least more natural and subtle – whether that’s what De Palma & Tosi intended is a different question, one that I do not have the answer for. The gamma/contrast differences are even more befuddling, because, on the whole, the Scream transfer is lighter than the MGM transfer, yet the remaster is rarely as vivid as the old disc. I’m stuck assuming that the new release is more authentic, especially when I see how blown-out the fire sequences are on the earlier version.

 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD

Audio


Carrie is presented in its original mono sound as well as a 5.1 remix that was created for its first DVD release. Both tracks are uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio, which is an upgrade over MGM’s BD, because it only included the English mono track in lossy Dolby Digital. In this case, my opinion isn’t really leaning one way or the other, because Carrie isn’t a very aurally aggressive movie, outside of maybe the musical soundtrack. The remix has some advantages, specifically that it rounds up all of the dialogue and incidental effects in the middle speaker and separates them from the occasional ambient noise, but the mono actually has slightly greater dynamic range. Well, except when it comes to Pino Donaggio’s music. The score gets the biggest boost from the remix all around, simply because the stereo spread helps expand some of the more complex instrumentations. The discrete LFE channel doesn’t actually make all that much difference in terms of music or effects, outside of some of the deepest bass notes and the fiery climactic mayhem.

 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD

Extras


Disc one:
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Carrie franchise trailer gallery ( Carrie 2002 TV movie, The Rage: Carrie 2, and Carrie 2013)Disc two:
    • Writing Carrie (29:07, HD) – The first new interview features screenwriter Lawrence Cohen discussing his ‘70s career, the adaptation process, the fortuitous events that led to him being hired onto the Carrie movie, De Palma’s influence on the script, budgetary issues, and the actors’ performances.
    • Shooting Carrie (15:22, HD) – A new interview with director of photography Mario Tosi, who recalls his involvement, the trick photography, and working with De Palma.
    • Cutting Carrie (25:09, HD) – A new interview with editor Paul Hirsch talks about working with De Palma on a number of films, George Lucas & De Palma sharing casting for Carrie and Star Wars, dealing with the director’s visual flair, and deleted sequences.
    • Casting Carrie (16:03, HD) – Another new interview, this one with casting director Harriet B. Helberg, who discusses screen-tests and hiring actors.
    • Acting Carrie[/i] (42:42, SD) – This interview featurette was produced for the original DVD special edition and includes cast members Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, Betty Buckley, Nancy Allen, Jack Fisk, William Katt, Piper Laurie, Priscilla Pointer, and P.J. Soles, as well as DePalma, himself.
    • More Acting Carrie (20:19, HD) – Additional Scream Factory exclusive interviews with Allen, Buckley, Katt, Laurie, McClurg, and Soles.
    • Visualizing Carrie (41:33, SD) – Another MGM legacy featurette with De Palma, Cohen, Hirsch, and art director Jack Fisk. It includes stills images of the early script and behind-the-scenes of the deleted prologue sequence.
    • Bucket of Blood (23:53, HD) – Composer Pino Donaggio discusses his working with De Palma, developing themes (the interview is sort of broken down theme by theme), paying homage to Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho strings, blending scary cues with melodic ones, and writing the film’s two pop songs, "Born to Have It All" and "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me” (with lyrics by Merrit Malloy).
    • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (11:25, HD) – A Carrie-centric episode of the ongoing series (hosted by Sean Clark) that tours film locations.
    • Carrie, the Musical (6:23, SD) – Another holdover from MGM’s Special Edition DVD, this featurette covers the stage musical version of Carrie that famously flopped, but had a slightly more successful revival around the same time that De Palma’s film first hit Blu-ray.
    • TV and radio spots
    • Behind-the-scenes photos, posters, and lobby card still galleries
    • Stephen King and the Evolution of Carrie text galleries:[list]
    • Stephen King and the Writing of Carrie
    • From Novel to Script
    • Book & Film Comparison


 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD

Overall


Carrie Collector’s Edition is one of Scream Factory’s better Blu-ray upgrades, at least in terms of improvements made over previously available Blu-ray releases. It’s extras are not as exhaustive as their Army of Darkness or The Thing collections, but the MGM disc was completely barebones, so the difference is still very substantial. We can argue about the two transfers’ colour distinctions, but the clarity/detail improvements are hard to ignore. The presence of the original mono sound in lossless audio is also worth noting.

 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD

 Carrie: Scream Factory Collector's Edition
 Carrie: MGM BD

* Note: The above images are taken from the Scream Factory (top) and MGM (bottom) Blu-rays and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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