Raising Cain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Raising Cain
Raising cain.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian De Palma
Produced byGale Anne Hurd
Written byBrian De Palma
Music byPino Donaggio
CinematographyStephen H. Burum
Edited byRobert Dalva
Paul Hirsch
Bonnie Koehler
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 7, 1992 (1992-08-07)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million
Box office$37,170,057

Raising Cain is a 1992 psychological horror-thriller film written and directed by Brian De Palma, and starring John Lithgow, Lolita Davidovich and Steven Bauer.


Dr. Carter Nix is a respected child psychologist. His wife, Jenny, becomes concerned that Carter is obsessively studying their daughter, Amy; he regards her like a scientist tracking the development of his creation. But Carter himself suffers from multiple personality disorder; his alternate personalities include Cain, a violent petty criminal, Josh, a shy 7-year-old boy, and Margo, a middle-aged nanny who protects the others at all costs. Carter and Cain are killing young mothers to procure their children, apparently for experiments performed by Carter's father, a child psychologist who lost his license years earlier after performing unethical experiments on children.

Jenny is having an affair with her ex-boyfriend Jack Dante, the widower of a former patient, and she plans to leave Carter for him. When Carter discovers their tryst, Cain takes over and begins leaving subtle clues for the police implicating Jack in the murders. Next, he attempts to kill Jenny by suffocating her and submerging her car in a lake. She escapes, however, and confronts Carter at home. Unable to find Amy, Jenny demands Carter tell her where she is. Carter replies that she is with his father - only for an incredulous Jenny to reply that his father has been dead for years.

The police contact Dr. Lynn Waldheim, who co-wrote a book with Nix Sr. called Raising Cain, about a boy with multiple personality disorder. Nix Sr. had extensive detailed knowledge of Cain's tortured childhood, including taped recordings of their sessions. However, Waldheim was never allowed to meet Cain. She eventually discovered the truth: Nix Sr. dispassionately put his own son through years of severe child abuse to gain firsthand accounts of his traumatic psychological development and study the emerging personalities. Horrified, Waldheim quit the project. Nix Sr. then disappeared, leaving behind a suicide note. After the police make the connection, Carter is apprehended for attempted murder. Waldheim is sent in alone to interrogate him.

During interrogation, Margo and Josh act and speak for Carter. Josh recites a rhyme and vanishes, and Margo assumes control. She stonewalls Waldheim from any further questioning. Eventually, Carter and Cain break from their confines. They pounce upon Dr. Waldheim, knocking her unconscious and leaving the building disguised as her. The police soon find Waldheim, who begs them to arrest Carter before he harms Amy.

Jenny follows a woman who she thinks is Waldheim to a motel, but it is actually Carter/Cain. She follows Carter/Cain, who is now Margo, into an elevator. When it opens, she sees Nix Sr. holding Amy hostage. While Jenny begs for Nix Sr. to give back her daughter, Carter, Cain and Margo stab "their" father from behind. Jack arrives with the police, and Carter and his personalities disappear.

Later on, Jenny takes Amy to a park and explains to her friend Sarah that Nix Sr. faked his own death and established a new identity and a clandestine research facility in Norway. He had been using Carter and his multiples to procure the children so he would have an adequate control group to study the development of MPD.

Amy runs off into the woods, calling for her father. Jenny follows her and finds Amy, who says her father has gone away. When Jenny bends down to pick Amy up, Carter appears behind her in a wig and a dress; Margo is now in control.



During production on The Bonfire of the Vanities, Brian De Palma toyed around with the idea of a suspense movie set on a playground. He was concerned however, that returning to the suspense genre was dangerous for him as it could be regarded as a step backward in his career.[1]

This film was the director's first suspense/thriller genre in almost a decade; the prior was 1984's Body Double. The role of the five characters, or personalities (Carter, Cain, Dr. Nix, Josh, and Margo) went to John Lithgow, who had previous worked with De Palma in Obsession and Blow Out.

Principal photography began on October 24, 1991. Production took place in Mountain View, California, with the park scenes filmed at Menlo Park, where most of the film is set. Other locations include Los Altos, Palo Alto, and San Francisco. Production was completed on December 16, 1991.[1]


The movie gained a mixed reception.[2][3] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Is Raising Cain a good movie? No way. You could almost say it's intentionally bad — a gleeful piece of jerry-built schlock. Yet De Palma's naughty-boy gamesmanship has a perverse fascination, even when it doesn't work (which is most of the time)."[4] Raising Cain holds a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 35 reviews.

Box office[edit]

The film was a modest box office success, grossing $37.1 million worldwide.[5][6]


Award Category Subject Result
Saturn Awards Best Actor John Lithgow Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Frances Sternhagen Nominated
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Brian De Palma Nominated

Director's cut[edit]

A Collector's Edition Blu-ray of the film featuring the director's cut as well as the theatrical cut was released on September 13, 2016. The director's cut features scenes that are reorganized as originally intended. The cut was originally edited by Peet Gelderblom, a director from The Netherlands and a long-time De Palma fan, who found out De Palma had regrets about the theatrical cut, re-edited the film to more closely resemble the original script and posted the result on IndieWire in January 2012. De Palma came across Gelderblom's edit and was impressed by it, and successfully arranged to have the cut added to the Blu-ray release.[7]


  1. ^ a b Salamon, Julie (1991). The Devil's Candy. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin. p. 388. ISBN 0-395-56996-6.
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 7, 1992). "Reviews/Film; Many Moods, and Outfits to Match". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  3. ^ Turan, Kenneth (August 7, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Cain': De Palma's Return to His Bloodthirsty Roots". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  4. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (August 7, 1992). "Raising Cain". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Fox, David J. (August 18, 1992). "Weekend Box Office: Eastwood Still Tall in the Saddle". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  6. ^ Fox, David J. (September 1, 1992). "How Hot Was Hollywood's Summer? : Movies: With ticket sales approaching $1.8 billion, this looks to be the third biggest season on record". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  7. ^ "Fanedit Impresses Director and Becomes Official Cut – Fanedit.org". www.fanedit.org. Retrieved 2016-10-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Martin, Mick & Porter, Marsha. DVD & Video Guide 2006. pg. 922.
  • Frank N. Magill (1993). Magill's Cinema Annual 1993, A Survey of the Films of 1992. Pasadena, California.

External links[edit]