Carrie / The Rage: Carrie 2 (Blu-ray)


CarrieStarring Angela Bettis, Kandyse McClure, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Bergl, Mena Suvari, Amy Irving

Directed by David Carson and Katt Shea

Distributed by The Scream Factory

Concerning the topic of authors who have had their works optioned for film and television, it’s hard to imagine anyone more prolific than Stephen King. Dozens of the author’s stories have been adapted for both entertainment mediums – and it all started with Carrie (1976). Director Brian De Palma’s film set a high watermark that few subsequent adaptations were able to meet. Praised as it was, and still is, the film didn’t slavishly follow King’s original novel, making a number of narrative cuts to the original work. While this is nothing new for King’s work, or any novel adapted for filmed media, it does leave open the door for other filmmakers to give it a second go-round and attempt to hew closer to the source material.

So it was, in 2002, that veteran television director David Carson brought Carrie (2002) to the small screen with an adaptation that was purported to follow King’s novel more closely. Written by Bryan Fuller (the mastermind behind “Hannibal” (2013-present), one of the best shows currently on television), the telefilm does include some sequences that were excised from De Palma’s version, though there are still enough changes and portions left out that it’s hard to say this is more faithful.

The story is told in flashbacks, as Sue Snell (Kandyse McClure, who looks remarkably like an African American Amy Irving) is being interrogated in present day by Det. John Mulcahey (David Keith) following the deadly events which transpired at Ewen High School’s prom. Cut back two weeks and Carrie White’s (Angela Bettis) story is told, starting at the moment when she gets her first period in the showers after gym class. The popular girls (known as “Ultras”) – led by Christine “Chris” Hargensen (Emilie De Ravin) – all stand above her as she cowers on the tile floor, bleeding and thinking she is close to death. It isn’t until Ms. Desjardin (Rena Sofer), the gym teacher, steps in that the torment ends. When she’s taken to the principal to report the incident, he can’t even get her name right. It seems like everyone in the school has it out for Carrie.

Things aren’t much better at home, where her religious fanatic mother Margaret (Patricia Clarkson) forces her to constantly pray in a small upstairs closet. Flashbacks reveal Carrie has had special abilities from a young age, at one point causing a shower of stones to rain down on the home, nearly destroying it. When her telekinesis begins to act up once again, Carrie takes to the internet and comes across an ancient Geocities page that describes more fully her condition. Now she knows there are others like her; maybe she isn’t such a sinful freak after all. Sue, feeling bad about how Carrie has been treated, urges her boyfriend Tommy (Tobias Mehler) to take Carrie to the prom. And we all know how that turns out.

Lately, we have been spoiled by living in a television golden age. There are currently just as many, if not more, exciting things occurring on the small screen as there are on the silver screen. But that wasn’t the case back in 2002, and the lack of cinematic quality is apparent in Carrie. It can’t exactly be faulted for such issues because, well, that was simply the standard at the time. Still, in place of De Palma’s trademark style and Donaggio’s incredible score are television production values and acting that, frankly, feel like a movie-of-the-week (or in this case, a backdoor pilot). When Carrie bombards her house with flaming stones, the effect is not dissimilar to something an app on my smart phone can produce. And for all the talk about following King’s novel more closely, there are still many aspects to this production that simply rehash what De Palma did before, only not as well. Carrie supposedly can’t control her powers here, going into a trance state when they activate… except there are a few times when she clearly is in control. The film flip flops on this idea. The ending crafted here is undeniably weak, intended as a set-up for a planned series that never came to be. Carrie isn’t bad by any means; it is simply a mediocre effort that will make anyone watching it long for De Palma’s seminal version.

Remakes of decades-old films are routine, but a sequel to a film that had a definitive ending coming over twenty years after is a rarity. Nobody in their right mind could have imagined The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999) working on any level. The mere thought of it sounds more like a joke than something to be taken seriously. But for me, it works. The film was released in March 1999, during my senior year in high school, and while I ignored it at the time once I finally did get around to watching it I was amazed it wasn’t total crap. Maybe you had to grow up during the ‘90s, but I have a real appreciation for many of the movies made during that period, bleak as it may have been for horror, and titles like this and The Craft (1996) – to name but two – still hold up as trashy fun years later.

The film opens with another nutty religious mother attempting to protect her daughter from evil forces, which may or may not exist. The cops arrive and take her away (although there is zero indication anyone called them, or why) and her daughter is placed in foster care. Years pass and that young girl, Rachel (Emily Bergl), is now a teenager living with foster parents who make it known she’s only there so they can receive a monthly stipend of $300. Her dad, played by John Doe, reminds me of a poor man’s Bill Paxton. Rachel’s best (and only) friend in the world is Lisa (Mena Suvari), who is ecstatic that she just lost her virginity to Eric (Zachery Ty Bryan), a popular football player on campus. Eric, however, doesn’t share that excitement because to him and the rest of his jock buddies, it’s all a game – literally. These guys keep a “score book” of girls’ names alongside a ranked point system. The mission is to pump & dump. When Lisa learns that her night with Eric meant nothing, she takes the sensible approach and dives off the school’s roof.

The school’s counselor, Sue Snell (Amy Irving, returning to her role from the first film), meets with Rachel to discuss what’s happened and notices she shares similarities to Carrie White, who years earlier caused a devastating fire in town that killed dozens of people. After learning Rachel’s mom is in a mental hospital, Sue pays her a visit and discovers the truth about Rachel’s father – his name was Ralph White, the same man who fathered Carrie. Meanwhile, Rachel discovers photos of Eric & Lisa at her job (she’s a photo developer), photos Eric’s bros know of, and when the cops come to collect them as evidence the dudes assume Rachel is a snitch. So, naturally, they torment and threaten her. Only Jessie (Jason London) shows any sympathy, telling the guys to back off and finding that he and Rachel have a real connection. This doesn’t matter to the guys, though, and eventually a plan is set into motion that will humiliate Rachel at a huge house party thrown by Mark (Dylan Bruno), leader of the jock crew. Once Rachel’s emotions reach their height at the party, everyone quickly learns maybe messing with her wasn’t such a hot idea.

You have to appreciate the dated elements at play here. For starters, the soundtrack is comprised of almost exclusively nu-metal artists, and that alone is enough to anchor any film in a very specific time period when Fred Durst was king. The fashion is just as bad. Flannel shirts tied around the waist was still a thing. There’s also enough rampant sexism in the script to give Joss Whedon a seizure. But these attributes, bad as they may be, add to a weird charm that I don’t see today’s horror achieving. Of course, we probably said the same thing about horror in the ‘90s so who knows.

Rachel’s powers are only glimpsed until the finale, which goes all-out in making sure every scummy character is given their comeuppance to the highest degree. It’s brutal and bloody and a bit shocking since, aside from Lisa’s swan dive, there isn’t a hint of gore anywhere else in the film. Once the gloves come off, so to speak, Rachel gets pretty damned inventive dispatching her classmates. There’s one death in particular that turns into a double feature, providing the film with a totally shocking moment. Things get nasty. Even better, since CGI wasn’t being heavily used in 1999 virtually everything seen is done with practical FX, greatly adding to the impact.

Although it was skewered by critics and rejected by audiences, failing to make back a meager budget, The Rage: Carrie 2 is an entertaining slice of ‘90s cinema that moves at a fast clip, actually has a decent story to tell and caps things off with a maelstrom of bodily destruction. Major kudos to director Katt Shea, who stepped in a mere week before shooting to take over for the film’s original director, who left due to the always popular “creative differences”. Carrie doesn’t work very well on the small screen, but the original film’s sequel makes this double feature worth the price of admission.

Despite the back cover’s claims of a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Carrie arrives on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 1080p image. This was shot in the nascent days of HD video, so expectations should be kept in check. The picture is frequently soft, prone to middling contrast and occasional blooming, moderately defined, grainy and the coloration is not very well saturated. The scenes that incorporate CGI into the image show their age in all the worst ways. These issues are more than likely all systemic to the source, and so Scream Factory can’t be faulted here, but it is an unflattering picture nonetheless.

The Rage: Carrie 2, being a theatrical film shot on 35mm, looks far superior. The 1.85:1 1080p picture shows a great deal more definition. Colors are decently saturated, if not a tad muted. The palette isn’t exactly vibrant anyway. Contrast is a bit weak during some interior shots. Black levels look solid. Film grain remains intact and natural, with no signs of DNR. The image won’t impress but it is certainly passable.

Each film features an English DTS-HD MA track in either 5.1 surround sound or 2.0. In both cases, the multi-channel track adds more depth and fullness to its respective film. Rears are used minimally in each film, with those channels providing little more than some ambiance and a few discreet effects to aid in immersion. There are no deficiencies present in either track. Subtitles are included in English for both films.

Carrie features the following extras:

Director David Carson is on hand for an audio commentary, in which he discusses how this film differs from De Palma’s. Carson also praises Fuller’s writing, Bettis’ acting and speaks about the future plans were it to go to series.

The film’s trailer is also included.

The Rage: Carrie 2 features the following extras:

First up is a new audio commentary, featuring director Katt Shea and director of photography Donald Morgan. This is a fun, lively track with Shea talking about her boot camp days working for Roger Corman, which prepared her for just about anything. She had to win over the cast and some crew after taking over for the first director, with whom everyone was already familiar. Morgan was put on as D.P. due to his work on Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1982). The biggest issue on this track is lengthy audio dropouts, which cut off portions of the track. Major quality control miss.

Also included is director Katt Shea’s original audio commentary from the MGM DVD. She’s a bit more reserved on this solo track, covering much of the same material. She does note that although it was daunting taking over a film just a week before shooting was set to begin, it also was a big confidence boost that the studio felt she could jump right in and get the job done.

“Alternate Ending: Before/After Special Effects Sequence” – here, Jesse has a nightmare wherein Rachel appears and spits a snake out of her mouth that goes into his. There is audio commentary with Katt Shea, who explains this was cut because it made no sense.

“Alternate Scenes Not Seen in Theaters”. There are three scenes here – Rachel visiting her mom at the mental hospital; the football team doing some “manly” hazing; and Jesse & Rachel’s first date. Audio commentary with Katt Shea explains why these scenes were cut.

The film’s theatrical trailer (HD) finishes off the bonus material.

CARRIE Special Features:

  • NEW Audio Commentary with director David Carson
  • Trailer

THE RAGE CARRIE 2 Special Features:

  • NEW 2015 Audio Commentary with director Katt Shea and Director of Photography Donald Morgan, moderated by filmmaker David DeCoteau
  • Original 1999 Commentary with Katt Shea
  • Alternate Ending with “before and after” special effect sequence
  • Additional scenes not seen in theatres
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Carrie
  • The Rage: Carrie 2
  • Special Features
User Rating 3.5 (8 votes)


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