In the spring of 1999, I had a unique experience. The Roxie Cinema (in San Francisco) was opening a brand-new print of Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976), which I suspect had been struck as a sort of apology for the now-forgotten The Rage: Carrie 2, released just a week before. I attended their press screening -- the very first unfurling of the new print -- but oddly enough, I was the only one to show up. Had the other critics already seen it? Or was there something else? The Roxie guys shrugged, asked if I'd like to go ahead, and I said yes. I sat in the middle, all by myself.

I've seen it again since then, and have become doubly convinced of its excellence. Along with The Untouchables (1987) and Mission: Impossible (1996) it was De Palma's biggest success and yet it's usually left out of diatribes calling De Palma a ripoff artist and a misogynist. Based on the first novel by Stephen King, Carrie uses virtually no Hitchcockian elements, and, actually, only about a half a dozen of De Palma's 28 feature films to date, do. Likewise, it's a fairly perceptive view, not of female sexuality in itself, but of the male fear of it. (And, more importantly, an awareness of this fear.) Moreover, both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received Oscar nominations for their performances, a justification for two strong female roles.

categories Features, Cinematical