The film is over 30 years old now, grain is prevalent throughout the feature gaining in intensity in the darker scenes in Carrie's house, the initial shower scenes, the ultimate finale. There's hardly any damage on the print that I could see, the odd speckle but that's about it; at times there are some brightness fluctuations but these are relatively minor and never distracting.
The image is soft throughout, never pin sharp that we have come to expect from more recent releases, and this in itself is not a bad thing but it does take away from the dimensionality somewhat and as such the image on screen does appear rather flat. Colours however are wonderfully presented, deep and rich. It's the seventies and there's a wide variety of colourful clothing on offer from the teenager's gym kits whilst out on the playing fields, the tops and jeans they wear whilst at school. Similarly the backgrounds of some scenes, again the outdoor playing fields, Carrie's walk home offer up excellent colour fidelity with lush greens on show. Reds in the main though are the order of the day, from the baseball cap to the copious amounts of blood shed either naturally or otherwise. All of these colours are well defined and certainly contained within their borders with no hint of bleed on show. Skin tones are a little overdone, a little over saturated on the reds and there are certain scenes where over application by the make up artist hasn't helped.
Blacks too get a good workout, from the previously mentioned house Carrie and her mother reside in to the final senior prom. There's good shadow detail in the closest in which Carrie's mother confines her daughter and the background scenes of the prom; apart from the grain these scenes come across particularly well. Whites on the other hand whilst pleasing on the eye, not over bearing, do show a little bloom every now and again; the house which Carrie's mother visits on her bible bashing missions and the distant background beyond the schools playing fields.
Encoding though is wonderful. No noise, no blocking and minimal enhancement only exhibited against some of the starker backgrounds. There's a good scene in the prom just after Tommy and Carrie win the King and Queen award, they are bathed in a spotlight and the gradient from this trouper exhibits no banding whatsoever. As mentioned the image is a little soft and this does reduce some of the detail on offer but there's still more to be seen than earlier incarnations of this film. Sundry religious details in Carrie's house and the possessions in the rector's office are all much better than previously seen. Better but not the best out there.
The stage has been widened considerably, Pino Donaggio's light score drifting pleasantly from the left and right array, well defined and well separated. This score concentrates on the strings (at times with some electronic beat in there for good measure) and higher tones both of which are wonderfully realised from the frontal array, crisp and sharp. The shrill of Carrie's telekinetic daggers of the mind, paying homage to Psycho, rip through any on screen background score or dialogue and tear at your senses. Lower tones do kick in from time to time, from some background songs, the roar of a car engine and of course that climatic finale. Don't expect your sub to be firing on all cylinders though; when it's used it's used well enough, not as deep as a modern action adventure but suitable for this film.
Surround use is a little sparse as is to be expected, but they do kick in for ambiance, and to a later degree for effect. Cars from the teenagers cruising, the prom night at the end, the fire engine which rushes to the scene of devastation. All of these add some level of surround use but like the LFE before it, it's never excessive by any stretch of the imagination. Near the end the echoing effects of Carrie's mother, Margaret, can be heard travelling from left to right both in the front and surround channels and adds pain to the confusion that Carrie herself is suffering at that time. Dialogue is catered for well, and certainly better than the almost anaemic mono track, voices still distinctly heard over background music and always centred up front.
Like the video this audio track will neither blow you away nor will it have you reaching for it as demo material but it does present a step up from earlier versions.
On the cusp of a new wave of horror Carrie along with a few others films from the mid to late seventies paved the way for films we are still seeing now, some thirty one years on. Apart from the the hideous seventies fashion sense it's as fresh and disturbing today as it was those many years ago.
The film is more or less true to Stephen King's original source material and I think probably one of the better adaptations. In the book there's a lot more mayhem towards the end but it would appear budget constraints put paid to those adaptations. That aside Carrie is a great watch, something which pulls you in and once you're all the way there it unleashes a torrent of devastation rarely seen before in such a concentrated fashion.
The video and audio are better than earlier versions, suitable but not demo material and the package is let down by Fox yet again not porting any material over from the Special Editions. This is yet another missed opportunity; Carrie is a classic film and deserves better treatment than this. Still if you can't wait for the inevitable double dip (and I know I couldn't) then I would still pick this up.
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