Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
Go to Vulture to read the rest-- I'll post more highlights later.
"DePalma’s horny-visionary humor is what made Carrie so American American–a horror satire but with deep feeling and real ambivalence. The mother’s warning 'They’re all gonna laugh at you!' did double-duty. It’s a hallmark of the 70s era that a film as funny as Carrie could also be so heartbreaking. DePalma’s Carrie transcended its Grand Guignol genre, but no one’s gonna laugh or cry at this literal-minded remake. The pig-slaughter scene ('Choose one that looks like Carrie') becomes a moment of mean-girl internalized self-hatred and the bucket-of-bloodbath is repeated three we-got-the-point times. TV-obviousness striking again and again and again.
"Stefan Sharff, the great film theoretician, devoted an entire class of his 'Analysis of Film Language Course' at Columbia University to DePalma’s Carrie (at my suggestion, and my everlasting gratitude). Sad that Columbia Film School graduate Peirce remakes Carrie using such meager film language.
"It was DePalma’s satirical sensibility that gave unexpected complexity to Stephen King’s potboiler, plus DePalma’s visual wit added layers of meaning through art and pop cultural references. The Pre-Raphaelite close-ups (of Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, William Katt, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen) allowed DePalma to raise the mystical elements of the story to an esthetic richness that resolved the theme of repressed sexuality. (The mother’s lush hair suggested her innate sensuality but is made stringy and witchy here.) Depicting Carrie’s forced closet penitence, DePalma’s great cinephilia reached back to evoke Lillian Gish’s anguish in D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms and for the mother’s orgasmic death he reached forward, outdoing Luis Bunuel’s wildest iconography.
"All this is why DePalma’s Carrie ranks as one of the great American movies and its characters are cultural archetypes–despite a previous remake, a Broadway musical and sequel, DePalma’s film has had huge influence stretching from P.J. Harvey to the excellent recent Disney film Prom. DePalma’s Carrie is one of those films where everything went right but except for Chloe Grace Moretz’s sweetly vulnerable expressions, everything in Pierce’s remake goes flat."
"The opening moments were like a hallucination — all those teenage girls horsing around in slow motion in a high school locker room, and then pale, freckled Carrie (Sissy Spacek), lost in a private reverie in the shower, caressing her skin and dropping the soap and getting her period for the first time, which makes her think that she’s dying. It’s a completely shocking, horrific sequence, yet it was set up with lushly tender and swelling orchestral music (by Pino Donaggio) that sounded like it came out of the most sentimental Hollywood love story ever made. It was as if Carrie was trying to freak you out and, at the same time, make you swoon over how freaked out you were getting. The whole movie was like that. It was the strangest, most exhilarating thing: a googly-eyed romantic teen-dream-turned-nightmare. Watching Carrie, I felt like I was being lured right into the action on screen, and that feeling never let go. As memorable as the whole experience was, though, if I want to be totally true to that first viewing, I can hardly overstate the importance of the film’s great shocker of a trick ending. I didn’t just jump, I stood up in my seat with terror and felt a tremor go through my soul.
"Emerging from the theater, I knew how powerfully Carrie had affected me, but I had no real idea why. Even the ending carried a tingle of mystery: I’d been scared by other big shock moments in horror films — why did the fear factor of this one cut so deeply? From that first viewing, the movie possessed me, and somehow, I had to understand what it was about Carrie that had gotten into my system. And so I thought about the movie. All the time. And went back to see it. Again and again. And even tried to write about it (badly). I was trying to figure out why the movie possessed me, and in doing so, without knowing it, I was becoming a critic.
"Today, something that strikes me about Carrie is that the movie has carved out a place in film history without ever really getting full credit for being the pop masterpiece it is. For many people, it’s a beloved film, yet when you read about it, Carrie gets described with words like 'cult classic' or 'creepy horror movie' that somehow reduce it. And I don’t think I’m just speaking out of my own personal nostalgia for what a seismic movie it was for me. The singularity of Carrie, and the reason that film history has never completely known how to classify or to judge it, is that the film is so many different things at once."
Go to Entertainment Weekly to read the rest of Gleiberman's magnificent post, including the part where he states, "To me, movies like Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, and Casualties of War are gliding-camera pastiches, yet none of the director’s fabled serpentine tracking shots ever matched the giddy power of the simple slow zoom he uses in the establishing shot at the prom in Carrie. Effortlessly, he fuses the film’s tones — high school cheese, YA empathy, pop-gothic Tennessee Williams, the zap! of telekinesis — and the deliriously extended slow-motion set piece of Carrie walking on stage to be crowned prom queen, that bucket of pig’s blood poised above her, may be the single greatest suspense sequence of the post-studio system era. In Carrie, it’s because De Palma used his fantastic technique, in every shot, to serve the movie’s emotional core that his virtuosity, for once, instead of being all about itself, really did attain a level comparable to that of Alfred Hitchcock."
"Kimberly Peirce's Carrie isn't sexually perverse like De Palma's. Its sexiness is entirely the dewy kind--the difference between porn and couple's porn, if you will. Both will get you off, but there's less guilt attached to the latter. I hated the idea of Peirce for this remake--I thought Boys Don't Cry was didactic and kitschy, on the nose if not nearly as on the nose as getting her to do another abused-teenager movie. Except that Peirce's Carrie does something De Palma's doesn't do nearly so well: it describes Carrie's headspace, so that her telekinesis becomes expressionistic. Her power is an extension of her as she explores it late at night, alone in her bedroom--a way that she becomes, as she calls it, 'a whole person,' at last. Peirce even manages to understand Carrie's chief tormentor Kris (Portia Doubleday), demonstrating a high level of empathy that allows this new adaptation to be something more than a man's version of a girl's revenge movie. Take how the two pictures open: De Palma's with a volleyball game transitioning into a soft-porn push-in to a girl's locker room (he'd do this same Psycho thing, with more fetish if you can imagine (and you don't have to), in Dressed to Kill). It's naughty, let's face it. Peirce's volleyball game is played in a pool, and the subsequent locker-room explosion allows a wider tableau for the girls' cruel reaction to Carrie's first period and, with it, the possibility for balance--and for multiple identifications, including feminine body horror...
"Where Margaret was essentially an evil, evangelical witch in De Palma's film, she's a more dangerous sort of nut in Peirce's: a fundamentalist so askew that she gives birth alone while praying for death. Carrie 2013 resists the instinct to vilify, to reach for loud, screeching hysteria as a feminine-madness catch-all. Consider the same moment in both films where Margaret declares to a polite neighbour that 'we live in godless times,' how in the De Palma it's as Margaret is proselytizing and asking for a donation, while in this one she's humiliated, surreptitiously cutting herself. If it's still hysteria, it's of the more introverted, self-directed kind--the maelstrom is inside this Margaret, and she's put it into Carrie. Margaret is no longer interloper but shut-in, a quieter infection. Or how about the poetry-class sequence that inverts the writer of the verse, making Tommy the critic, the white knight of a slightly different sort who recognizes that the teacher, more than a harmless blowhard, is a frustrated old man teaching a classroom full of nubile girls, right on the verge. At the centre, though, is Moretz, who, along with Elle Fanning and Saoirse Ronan, offers a bright, shining hope for the future--and the present, as it happens. She's heartbreaking in this role. Her fear, her nervousness, her embarrassment, and that moment where Tommy asks her to the prom (the second time) and all the world...floats in happy sympathy. There's more purpose in this Carrie; like the best of King's writing, as it happens, it's not obvious that the whole thing isn't a metaphor for trauma. It's not a B-movie at all--not prurient, it's deadly serious, and when Carrie erupts, as Carrie must, it's archetype, not circus. The irony of it is that De Palma's film shares the view of Carrie as a freak; Peirce's sees her as a little girl lost, eaten alive by the burden of fanaticism, class, beauty, biology. The De Palma is about Sue and Kris, the Peirce is about Carrie herself--and therein lies all the difference."
Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
"Where Brian De Palma's 1976 version of Stephen King's novel was a teenage girl's nightmare as seen through the eyes of a straight male voyeur, this one looks through a wider lens, and strikes more universal notes of sympathy. (Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers ahead.)...
"For all the psychological realism of Carrie and Margaret's relationship, however, this remake has a comic book feeling. Peirce has turned Carrie into dark, sick take on a superhero origin story, complete with wide-angle lenses and God's-eye-view shots and poetic sound effects (when Margaret is near, Carrie 'hears' her before she sees her, thanks to a high-pitched whine that's like a dog whistle). Whole sequences have a Clark-Kent-in-Smallville feeling. What would have become of Superman had he been a girl raised by an insane single parent? He'd might have endured being called a freak for years until he finally snapped and roasted the football team...
"Perhaps because this Carrie is helmed by one of the only prominent female directors in Hollywood, Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), it appreciates Carrie and her mother and the heroine's various female adversaries as women, and portrays their brand of cruelty as specifically female. For example, where the girls in the 1976 Carrie tormented the menstruating heroine in the shower in a wolf-pack manner, as teenaged boys might attack another teenage boy, the shower attack in this film is a joke that originates in embarrassment and nausea, then snowballs. (Peirce doesn't show nudity; this time it's all about the girls' emotions.)
"Peirce and screenwriters Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa give the whole film this kind of heartfelt, inside-out re-imagining. Class differences play a part in Carrie's mistreatment; a few early shots establish that Carrie and Margaret live far from the obviously privileged high school, in a modest neighborhood. And as the tale nears its inevitable climax, the tone becomes more despairing. Nothing can stop what's coming.
"It's on this last point, though, that Carrie falters most conspicuously—and ironically, its failure is a product of its decision to depart from the novel and the first film, but without going far enough. Peirce's version sometimes makes Chris seem a bit of a victim, too, by implying that she was spoiled rotten by her yuppie dad—played by a perfectly cast Hart Bochner, a.k.a. Ellis from Die Hard. This is a good impulse, but the movie doesn't properly follow through on it. The script has Chris be exaggeratedly 'evil' when it serves the plot, but life-sized elsewhere. This version strands the supporting characters between realism and archetype, an awkward spot.
"Still, there's a lot to like in this remake. It's sincerely interested in exploring the pain that its characters suffer and inflict. And when Carrie unleashes the full brunt of her powers, it's a magnificent and appalling spectacle—the teenage sci-fi rampage that the 'X-Men' films never dared show us.
"Not for nothing does Carrie check out library books on magic as well as paranormal power: when she becomes a gore-drenched avenging angel, her gestures become more ritualized, almost dancer-like—as if she's not just committing gruesome murders, but in some sense 'presenting' them, as a performer might. The movie links Carrie's burgeoning power to creativity, watching her develop her gifts until, at the end, she is assured enough to preside over a combination Grand Guignol play and art exhibit. The prom is a masterpiece of mixed-media slaughter, Hellraiser by way of Columbine. Each killing is a discrete work employing different media and techniques: death by psychic assault, by trampling, by electrocution, by fire, by face-through-glass. As Walter Chaw writes, 'Peirce's Carrie does something De Palma's doesn't do nearly so well: it describes Carrie's headspace, so that her telekinesis becomes expressionistic.'
"Curiously, for such a secular movie, this Carrie lends Biblical significance to every blood drop spilled. Original sin is never far from its mind. Margaret's original sin was having sex with Carrie's father, an event she describes as a violation even though it was just a case of husband and wife doing what husbands and wives do. The community's original sin was attacking Carrie in the shower, humiliating her for manifesting signs of Eve's 'curse.' After that, they were thrown out of the garden of their innocence, or ignorance; each counterplot or attempt to make amends is a doomed attempt to return to the garden. Carrie's original sin was being born. She is born again at the prom, kills the woman who gave birth to her, and dies that very night.
"The first "Carrie" was horror. This is tragedy."
AND HEADING TOWARD THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OPINION SPECTRUM...
Rob Vaux, Mania
"'They laughed at me.'
"It’s possibly the most heartbreaking line in movie history, a wail of despair from a bullied, persecuted, utterly friendless soul who has just brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down. It’s the cry of Carrie White – and by extension every outcast who ever felt the sting of casual cruelty. In her, Stephen King created the ultimate victim, then handed her a hydrogen bomb and pointed it at the sneering cretins of the world. Carrie turned him into a household name, but it took Brian De Palma (with a lot of help from Sissy Spacek) to really, truly capture what it was all about. The constant terror. The powerless wards against blows that could fall at any time. The tearful hand held out for someone – anyone – to show a little kindness and the smoldering fury left behind when no one does.
"It was perfect, as perfect a horror film as you could find, which is part of why this new version fails almost as soon as it leaves the gate. It couldn’t possibly match its predecessor, or even come close. But with a little more insight, it might have at least found few new things to say about the story. You can see them hovering around the edges, with helicoptering parents and humiliations shared with the world on YouTube. But director Kimberly Peirce can’t find anywhere to go with her new concepts, and clings to the old ones too closely to break out of De Palma shadow. Too many scenes stick to close to his. Too many conversations are repeated too closely. And while Peirce clearly understands the material, she can’t find the painful sympathy necessary to convey its message.
"It really comes down to who the creators identify with. King himself always claimed he was Susan Snell (played here by Gabriella Wilde): the well-meaning bystander who regrets her part in Carrie’s pain and tries to make amends. Peirce gravitates towards Coach Desjardin (Judy Greer), another sympathetic figure who works to protect Carrie from her peers to no avail. They both see the story one step removed. Only De Palma latched on to Carrie herself, displaying her tearful existence for all of us to see and daring us to look aside...
"Peirce loses her nerve with distressing regularity, pulling her punches when she should be going for the throat. This is an R-rated film and yet it feels very PG-13; God forbid they do something daring at the cost of a few teenage dollars.
"Take, for example, Carrie’s chief tormentor Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), she of the infamous bucket of pig’s blood. Here, she hesitates in her barbs from time to time, goaded by her boyfriend Billy (Alex Russell) rather than being the ultimate mean girl she’s really supposed to be. Peirce is going for well-roundedness, but it ends up letting Chris off the hook a little bit. Bullies never dwell on their bullying; they just cast their victims aside and move on to whatever pain their own life holds. Peirce misses that here, and it proves a fatal decision. Carrie suffers from a number of similar issues, from the pro forma recreation of De Palma’s iconic images to a climax that loses the apocalyptic tragedy it desperately needs."
David Edelstein, Vulture
"Apart from an early scene with a cartoonish high school principal, Brian De Palma’s 1976 Carrie is well-nigh perfect — a lyric, Expressionistic horror classic with the greatest female performance (by Sissy Spacek) in genre history and a supporting turn (by Piper Laurie) that’s not too far behind it. (I could go on and on about Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, darling P.J. Soles, John Travolta, etc.) Above all, it’s a movie that takes no prisoners. The well-meaning die as gruesomely as the malevolent. The one character left alive is probably too damaged to recover. As much of a hot dog as De Palma is (few directors are as gleefully virtuosic), he rarely takes off into a solipsistic sphere: Every trick both delights him and heightens his characters’ emotions.
"I won’t pretend I wasn’t incensed when I heard about a Carrie remake in the works, but I went in with an open mind and heart. The director, Kimberly Peirce, could in theory provide the one thing De Palma couldn’t — a female gaze — and the ideas she explored in Boys Don’t Cry about gender and female self-image made it likely she’d at least bring something new to the party. Based on the finished movie, though, I’m wondering if she had any say in what finally hit the screen.
"The new Carrie isn’t atrocious — just flat and uninspired and compromised by the kind of mindless teen-movie 'humanism' that De Palma so punkishly spat on. (It’s atrocious by comparison.)"
"With nothing new to offer, Carrie is reduced to attempting the impossible: repeating De Palma's long, tense buildup to Carrie's prom, one of the most stylishly executed horror-film sequences in history. Peirce doesn't dare rip off De Palma's famous split screen -- no director would -- so the disappointment is inevitable.
"Peirce has already made a better version of this story anyway, her phenomenal 1999 film Boys Don't Cry, about a small-town transgender girl who learns just how far a herd mentality can go. It's far more effective, and far more horrifying, than Carrie."
James Verniere, Boston Herald
"As talented as they are, 16-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore do not look a bit alike and have their hands full trying to make us forget the original actors. Epic fail...
"This present-day adaptation, scripted by Glee scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, starts out over-the-top and is hysterical in more ways than one.
"The book and original film’s 1970s setting, which as usual for King seemed more like the 1950s of his youth, lent itself better to some of the subject matter. It’s hard to believe that Carrie could be so naive in the age of the Internet, viral videos and Twitter. In fact, this Carrie Googles 'telekinesis,' and the video of her writhing on the shower floor as her classmates chant, 'Plug it up' is posted online.
"Peirce ups the ante on the carnage and rewinds the bucket scene so many times she induces howls of laughter instead of terror. Still, King’s keen sense for the horror lurking just beneath our cherished ceremonies peeks through in the prom scenes.
"In the role of the sympathetic gym teacher played by Betty Buckley in the original, Judy Greer tries. But not even she can help this poor movie."
Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News
"That the opening scene is by far the most chilling in the movie is both the strength of this remake and its key weakness. Peirce shines such a harsh spotlight on the twisted love between the religious zealot mother, Margaret White (played with heart-pounding menace by Julianne Moore), and her misfit daughter Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) that the rest of Carrie's connections to the world seem like an afterthought. Home is the real horror here. Moore's captivating performance steals some of the thunder because very little else in the picture can rival it.
"While Peirce pays homage to Brian De Palma's 1976 original by echoing many of the iconic film's seminal moments, she diminishes the bite of the bullying that Carrie endures from her peers. That's a pity because it robs this bloody revenge tragedy of its visceral impact...
"For all its cheesy '70s vibe, De Palma's movie far better captured the primal, almost Lord of the Flies nature of the high school experience, the sheer terror of being a social outcast. That's what really gave the Carrie myth such staying power in pop culture.
"At its core, Carrie captured something painful and true about adolescence.
"It doesn't help matters that Moretz has an undeniable spunkiness, a quality showcased in Kick-Ass, so it's hard to shake the feeling that she could hold her own with or without telekinesis. For the record, Peirce also pumps up the blood-splattering pyrotechnics of Carrie's powers. Once she sheds her meek facade, this is a Carrie who can split the earth beneath her with a stomp of her foot. She always seems more in control of her sorcery and far more formidable than the fragile and delicate Sissy Spacek."
Matt Pais, RedEye Chicago
"Not just the best horror in ages but a remarkably astute teen drama, Carrie will make those who have seen Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel see the story with entirely different eyes. That tone-deaf, unjustly beloved original film is weak sauce. The new, modernized interpretation is hot lava."
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
"While 1970s horror is a long way from 1950s romantic comedy, Sissy Spacek’s performance in Brian De Palma’s Carrie left no less indelible an imprint on the role than, say, Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina or Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday. And as the folks behind the lifeless '90s remakes of those films learned the hard way, messing with a classic -- particularly one with such an iconic lead -- is a losing proposition. So it’s surprising that Kimberly Peirce’s respectful Carrie overhaul is as entertaining as it is, even if the prom-night bloodbath never escapes the long shadow of its predecessor.
"Pauline Kael summed up the singular pleasures of the De Palma film, calling it 'a terrifyingly lyrical thriller.' She went on to describe its 'perverse mixture of comedy and horror and tension, like that of Hitchcock or Polanski, but with a lulling sensuousness.' The lyricism and playfulness are both in shorter supply here. But while the remake is at times too self-serious, it’s never boring or dumb, which is often the case with horror updates...
The pairing of a director new to the genre and the promise of a return to King’s source novel made it natural to expect a fresh stamp on the material. However, the remake is less faithful to the book than was the 2002 television version, with Angela Bettis and Patricia Clarkson. In fact it frequently seems like a slavish homage to De Palma’s film, recycling much of the same dialogue. Both adaptations share a screenwriter, Lawrence D. Cohen, working here with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa."
"Stepping into the blood-soaked prom dress made famous by Sissy Spacek in the 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Chloë Grace Moretz toplines director Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie, about a shy outcast who ends up unleashing telekinetic terror on her classmates. Passable only as a piece of recast entertainment for those who’ve never heard of the original, much less seen it, Carrie doesn’t plumb the depths of adolescent isolation its premise obliges. There doesn’t seem to be a pronounced rationale, beyond commercial reward, for this relatively undistinguished remake...
"In a frustrating and somewhat confusing step backward, Peirce, in only her second feature since 1999’s striking Boys Don’t Cry, too often opts for conventional, traded close-ups, undercutting the potential tension of longer takes and wider compositions. She doesn’t seem particularly moved by or connected to the material, and while the editing isn’t what one would call flashy or over-caffeinated, it does frequently seem stilted.
"Given the verisimilitude a number of recent high school movies have achieved, Carrie feels overly posed, and artificial. Carrie’s life of privation provides some dramatic tension, but the original film was also a powerful metaphor for the searing pain of bullying and adolescent ostracisation on the whole. This adaptation doesn’t quite summon those feelings.
"At the core of Carrie’s emotional disconnection is Moretz’s performance. Spacek’s Oscar-nominated turn in the 1976 film casts a long enough shadow that any young actress would have some trouble escaping it. Spacek tapped into the title character’s pitiable qualities with such a consuming focus that it was at times painful to watch.
"Moretz, still just 16 years old (almost a decade younger than Spacek was at the time of filming), is a quite talented young actress, but lacks, at least here, the ability to convey an emotional hopelessness resulting from years of ground down self-esteem. Her Carrie is all over-articulated social shyness and body shame. The lack of any interior monologue results in a less honest blossoming of Carrie’s ever-fragile confidence and ergo a less cathartic finale — no matter the level of technical achievement brought to bear in Peirce’s bloody comeuppance for the bullies, which is the film’s indisputable high point."
Manohla Dargis, New York Times
"As in the first film, blood runs through Carrie, first as a symbolically suggestive trickle — initially as an unholy brew of menstruation and the blood of Christ — and then in great, gushing waves as the body count mounts. Ms. Peirce plays up the story’s religious themes and Carrie’s burgeoning power as she discovers her telekinetic gifts, even as the dread of the female body that deepens Mr. De Palma’s version somehow goes missing. This Carrie has its share of terrors, certainly, partly because of the seeming timelessness of its deeper, more resonant themes. Although now, when Carrie — one of the more memorable screen victims of bullying — locks the doors of the school gym and does her bloody worst, it’s a good guess that it won’t be the movie that you will be thinking about, but recent headlines."
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Peirce's Carrie doesn't stray far from De Palma's - the sympathetic gym coach (Judy Greer), the handsome jock (Ansel Elgort) persuaded by his girlfriend (Gabriella Wilde) to invite Carrie to the prom, the shrewish princess (Portia Doubleday) who plots to humiliate Carrie. . . .
"And, of course, there's that tricky telekinesis business: As Carrie begins to find her true self, she realizes she has the power to move objects just by willing them - squinching up her eyes and waving her arms. At first, the cracked mirrors and exploding water coolers are a spontaneous manifestation of her rage, but with a little training and focus, and a reason to seek vengeance, well, let the cutlery and electrical cables, cars, and corpses fly!
"Note to Hollywood: Now, will somebody please let Peirce make the movies she really wants to make?"
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Those with little or no personal relationship to the 1976 Brian De Palma-directed Carrie will find themselves in a different situation than I am on this one. I admit it. If I didn't love Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie quite so madly in that movie — a film representing drive-in schlock elevated to Himalayan heights, with two of the great 1970s performances leading the way — I might've fallen further into the world of the remake. With all movies, really, we bring the baggage we bring.
"Some things are different, others are the same. Peirce delivers none of the voyeuristic nudity of the '76 edition. Even with the various killlings in the prom-night climax, when Carrie, slathered in pig's blood poured by her enemies, takes revenge, Peirce stages and shoots the action tastefully by R-rated horror standards. Even this remake's arresting prologue, depicting the bloody birth of Carrie into the conflicted, scissors-wielding hands of her unstable mother, has an air of restraint.
"The director, in other words, isn't an showboater or a sadist or a combination of the two, the way De Palma was behind the camera in the first Carrie movie, or the way Steven Spielberg tortured audiences with elan in that other '70s black-comic thriller classic, Jaws."
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"Carrie, the rapturous and terrifying 1976 Brian De Palma thriller based on Stephen King's first novel, is a movie that has earned its place as a quirky horror milestone without, perhaps, ever having quite attained the status of a masterpiece. Yet I personally think it's a great film. There's nothing that compares to its glittery fusion of dreaminess and dread — of Cinderella-at-the-prom fantasy and blood-bucket horror, all mixed up with elements of ‘70s teensploitation comedy and primally entangled mother-daughter tragedy. And what acting! Sissy Spacek, as the squashed-nerd telekinetic high school wallflower Carrie, and Piper Laurie, as her ragingly repressed Evangelical mom, achieved a tremulous power together. And De Palma, a prankish virtuoso, perched the whole thing on the knife's edge between sincerity and satire. Carrie is a timeless movie because it's both one of the most passionate and most scandalously funny horror films ever made.
"So what does one do for a remake encore? Kimberly Peirce, the gifted director of the new Carrie, has gone down what seems, on the surface, to be a savvy road. She follows De Palma's version quite faithfully, evoking everything from his camera angles to his lighting to his flying-object F/X to his gleeful staging of mean-girl antics. At the same time, she offers just enough tweaks and updated details to present the material in a new way...
"Despite being 40 years old now, the Carrie story lives quite comfortably in the 21st century. Here's the problem, though. The original film had King's ingenious plot, with its fusion of innocence and cruelty and that subliminal wink of demonic takeover, but it also had De Palma's voluptuous operatic style, which gave the story the quality of a daydream-turned-nightmare. When you take away that style and serve up the plot fairly straight, as Peirce does here, we seem to be watching a Carrie that's been flattened, robbed of its over-the-top emotional extravagance.
"Given the challenge of revamping Spacek's brilliant shivery-nerd-turned-avenger performance, Chloë Grace Moretz does a creditable job. In stiff hair and lumpish clothing, she's very much the geek outsider (though today there's a much greater context for geeks as heroines), and the emotions seem to bleed through her ghostly, lunar-pale skin. Yet the way Peirce has updated Carrie White, without making any overt changes to the character, is to portray her as a little less clueless, a little less pathetic, a little more defiant. She's now a cute, bright, painfully shy girl who sees herself (wrongly) as a loser. Before, she was a total walking blob of misery and dysfunction. That slight tonal shift robs the story of its masochistic edge.
"Of course, Carrie isn't merely a fable of adolescent agony. It's all about Carrie's revenge, once she's subjected to the most diabolical practical 'joke' in movie history. Carrie's telekinetic powers, driven by the rage she represses, allowed De Palma to orchestrate a senior-prom apocalypse that was pure filmmaking mastery. Peirce stages the prom as a prosaic rerun, without a lot of gaudy inspiration. And it's here that the real problem with redoing a classic reveals itself. Sure, a lot of famous movies are timeless, yet they're also rooted in their time. In the original Carrie, Spacek's character seemed to be channeling something creepy and larger-than-life — maybe it was even the underworld. But now we're a lot more accustomed to seeing movie characters mold their destiny through special effects, and since Peirce films the climax in a rather depersonalized, shoot-the-works way, Carrie comes close to seeming like an especially alienated member of the X-Men team. She blows stuff up real good, in a way that would make the devil — or Bruce Willis — proud."
The Boston Herald
Screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: "I always thought of Carrie as a perfect horror novel: It’s short and every scene matters. It’s like a Swiss clock: Once it starts, every piece chimes in with this terrifying inevitability that leads to prom night. The De Palma movie is quite faithful to the novel as well. It’s a great movie. The imagery is incredible and the story is universal. While there are big action scenes, it plays as a psychological drama."
Kimberly Peirce: "That movie is probably a classic because the underlying material is so essential. It’s a myth. Stephen King is a great writer who turned around the Cinderella tale, and on top of that, De Palma, one of our greatest directors, does what should be done."
New York Daily News
Julianne Moore on seeing the De Palma film when she was a teenager: "I remember the theater was packed and we were waiting for the next show in a huge line of kids that curled around the block. And they wouldn’t let us into the theater until all the kids from the last show filed out. As we were walking in, we passed the kids walking out and they were ashen. They were absolutely terrified and we were scared, too, thinking, ‘What could this be?'" Moore adds, "Piper Laurie’s performance was iconic and untouchable."
Seattle Times (by Moira Macdonald)
Long a friend of De Palma’s (“I think he’s a brilliant director”), Peirce called him to see what he thought of her taking on the project. “There’s enough material out there that I shouldn’t have to do anything that makes another director feel bad,” she said. “He was really supportive — he said, ‘You have to do it.’ ”
There are, of course, similarities between her approach and De Palma’s — “Two people who love this source material are going to come at it, in some ways, exactly the same” — but Peirce added her own stamp. The new Carrie features an opening scene depicting Carrie’s birth, adds more emphasis to Carrie’s exploration of her superpowers and her relationship with her mother, and subtly alters the focus of the revenge scene (it comes, says Peirce, from grief).
Kimberly Peirce: "It's a love story, that mother fiercely loves that daughter, but she's also terrified of her. For me, the movie is very much about that bond between the mother and the daughter, everything else comes out of that."
Kimberly Peirce on balancing expectations of fans of the De Palma film while modernizing the story: "I faced it with humility. On some level, of course, I was scared I wouldn't live up to it, but then I just thought, 'I love Carrie. I'm going to ground this moment. I'm going to make this as specific and real as possible.' I do think I ended up making it different. It's the same reason why people are able to bring a new reality to Shakespeare and other works."
Kimberly Peirce: "The other huge thing that was important to me, which you see in all my movies, is a sense of justice and, part and parcel with justice, is revenge. I think we love a justice story. So you had to love Carrie -- you had to be involved in her journey, you had to want her to get love and acceptance, you had to see the obstacles against her, you had to see her playing with the powers, you had see her get that invitation to prom and think, 'Sue should apologize and you shouldn't go to prom, because this is not going to work.' She goes anyway, and you still want to see her succeed. But you also secretly want to see it blow up. And when it does, it's important -- I changed it so that when Tommy goes down, Carrie is overwhelmed with grief. It's out of the grief that unconsciously the powers come out. And when they come out, that's when things happen. The damage is done."
Chucky creator Don Mancini is asked what is his favorite scary movie: "Probably Brian De Palma’s Carrie. I love Brian De Palma, I love the style of that film. I also love that story, and the novel by Stephen King. I just think it has incredible pathos and the character of Carrie White is such a fascinating one. I would probably say that. Recently, one of my favourite horror movies was Orphan. I thought that was really well done. Like a good Hitchcock movie – it was psychological – the game of wits between Vera Farmiga and the little girl who turns out to be something quite different. And I thought both actresses were amazing. I really loved that movie."
October 3 episode of Glee
Thanks to Maurizio for letting us know about this episode, which features Beatles songs and a lovingly faithful homage to the bucket/prom scene in De Palma's Carrie, complete with rope, dream-like music, slow-motion clapping, bucket-hitting-the-head of the prom king, and even lip-licking. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the screenwriter for the Carrie remake, is credited as the Supervising Producer of this episode. Of course, this show comes to us from the same team that brings us American Horror Story.
'Strange and Disturbing': A Movie Virgin Watches Carrie for the First Time
"I don't think I've ever seen my sister go through as many emotions as she did during the 10-minute span of Carrie's opening scene. Director Brian De Palma's 1976 horror film, based on Stephen King's novel, clearly hasn't lost its touch -- the dreamlike, voyeuristic locker room scene shots had her face twisted in confusion, and Carrie White's introduction a la naked steamy soaping up in the shower prompted her to ask me if we had accidentally rented a porn version of the film. But once the camera panned to the infamous blood shot, she was horrified -- and, as Carrie's schoolmates chastised her and showered her with tampons and maxi pads, my sister was almost in tears. 'This is so sad!' she exclaimed. 'I don't want to watch this!' Luckily, she stuck with it."
Shock Till You Drop
Video interviews with Peirce and cast. Peirce talks about calling De Palma, and him telling her to Skype him.