Stephen King Horror Classic On Max Still Hasn’t Been Matched

By Brian Myers | Published


Sometimes Hollywood can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to a solid production. Too many times, remakes and reboots of iconic films have left fans disappointed and frustrated as studios try to capitalize on a previous entry’s success at the box office. While there are scores of examples of remakes falling far short of the marks set by the original content, the modern adaptations of the 1976 Brian De Palma film Carrie stand as some of the worst to ever land in theaters.



Carrie follows its title character, a shy teen whose life as a social outcast is further complicated by her domineering and overly religious mother. Convinced that her daughter’s telekinetic abilities are demonic, Margaret White proves herself to be more of a hurdle in Carrie’s life than the horrible people that the girl is forced to attend school with.

The story of Carrie’s eventual rage-fueled vengeance is masterfully created by De Palma and acted out in perfection by the film’s stars, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, and Amy Irving.

A Bloody Hit


The original film experienced considerable success at the box office as it generated more than $33 million in ticket sales over a production budget that was a meager $1.8 million. Carrie has long-since been considered a staple film for any fan of horror, and highly regarded as one of the best adaptations of any Stephen King works.

Wanting to capitalize on a familiar tale, studios have attempted multiple times to recreate the magic of the 1976 classic, but with lackluster results.

Don’t Try To Fix What Ain’t Broke

The first remake was a television production released by NBC in 2002. This incarnation of Carrie did generate a wonderful performance from Angela Bettis in the film’s title role; it failed to dazzle audiences in every other sense. Watering down the graphic content of the 1976 original so that it passes the muster of network censors should have discouraged the studio from even thinking about a small screen version of Carrie.

Bettis aside, this adaptation somehow managed to transform a shocking and visually terrifying film into one that seems to miss the cues established by De Palma nearly 30 years prior.

2013’s Carrie

In 2013, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures released a bigger-budget remake of Carrie to theaters. This version of King’s work stands up much better than NBC’s television entry, though it largely fails to generate the horror that Brian De Palma was able to give audiences.

Kimberly Peirce does well in the director’s chair and succeeds in setting up eerie shots that, while lacking the magic of De Palma’s split screen and split diopter methods of telling the story, carry the narrative without any wasted moments of filler material.

Julianne Moore

The lone acting standout from the 2013 version isn’t Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie but is from the dynamic performance by Julianne Moore who plays Carrie’s mother. While it’s hard to top Piper Laurie as the mentally deranged and overbearing religious zealot, Moore rose to the occasion and succeeded in giving the late actress a run for her money.

A Bomb

With the failed remakes of Carrie taken into consideration, they were far better in quality than the lone sequel that the 1976 film spawned in 1999. The Rage: Carrie 2 followed Carrie White’s half-sister Rachel Lang, a young woman with telekinetic powers that exacts vengeance on her fellow classmates.

The film was a box office bomb, failing to sell itself as anything other than recycling much of the material, plotlines, and character sketches from its predecessor.

Topping De Palma’s directorial style is a big enough mountain to climb, even 50 years after Carrie was first released. But fans seeing anyone other than Sissy Spacek covered in pig blood and using her telekinetic powers to kill her tormentors is perhaps the most significant reason why these remakes have fallen short.

Stream The Original Now

The abundance of Stephen King material out there that has failed to be adapted to the big screen makes one wonder why studios are ignoring great opportunities in lieu of regurgitating his old hits. A made-for-TV remake of The Shining in 1997, the Salem’s Lot reboot in 2004 and its October 2024 do-over, and theatrical version of IT/IT: Part 2 have given fans a mixed bag of flops and masterpieces to consider.

But most of the time, it’s best to let a classic be a stand-alone entry and allow filmmakers to generate King’s yet-to-be seen novels and stories into the cinematic masterpieces that they deserve.

You can catch Carrie streaming on Max.