Wednesday, October 6, 2010


A double feature at the beautiful Castro Theater in San Francisco featuring lots of repressed sexuality and men dressing as women:


Yep, the 50th anniversary of this all-time classic and I finally got to see it on the big screen. How did this impact my view of a film I already love? It made me like it in ways that are at first so obvious and yet new to me that I feel like a fool. The main thing the big screen brought out was Anthony Perkins' brilliant performance. I know that sounds odd, but seeing his face and body in larger-than-life proportions really demonstrated what a great job he did. He's charming as hell and off-putting to the point of charming, which is something I never got before. I understand even more how Janet Leigh's character got comfortable with him, even when he started acting a bit weird. The other major thing the big screen brought out was the power of the other major kill, of Mother charging Arbogast. It was shocking and violent and the blaring, shrieking mono soundtrack was deafening. Awesome. And seeing Mother's corpse at the end was another nice surprise.

So yeah, if you haven't seen this, you're a fool. Get to it, pronto!


Brian De Palma made this tribute to Psycho, taking the basics of the plot and adding a sheen of Euro-horror (if this film isn't just as much inspired by Argento as Hitchcock then I don't know what) and nearly soft-core porn. All the repressed sexuality of Psycho is flipped on its head and here, it's the freedom of sexuality that causes the violence to erupt.

This movie shocked a lot of people when it came out; after all, Police Woman herself, Angie Dickinson was naked in it (or was she? I think in the long shots, maybe, but the close-ups are a body double) and the violence was kind of new to most American audiences at the time.

There were a couple of sequences that made the audience I was watching it with erupt into enthusiastic applause and those were the attack in the subway and the finale in the doctor's office and the final dream sequence. And those people were right: they were brilliant.

Thing is, it was all giallo. Black-gloved killer, stylish stalking, seeing something in a mirror you're not sure it real, the flashing straight razor...All straight from the playbook. And done with aplomb.

De Palma caught a lot of crap over supposedly ripping off Hitchcock, but I'd call the movie a love letter to both Hitch himself and the Italians.

Catch it on DVD.

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