‘MaXXXine’: A Bold Homage to Brian De Palma’s Cinematic Legacy

In an era where studios are eager to launch franchises from successful projects, Ti West and Mia Goth have created a remarkably distinctive movie trilogy. While ‘X’ stands as an original work, its 1970s narrative is deeply rooted in classic slasher films, notably Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’. Similarly, the prequel ‘Pearl’ pays homage to Hollywood’s Golden Age, drawing inspiration from iconic films like ‘The Wizard of Oz’. The trilogy’s final instalment, ‘MaXXXine’, serves as an extensive tribute to the groundbreaking filmmaking of Brian De Palma.

Brian De Palma, a key figure in the “New Hollywood” era alongside Spielberg and Coppola, is renowned for his suspenseful storytelling and unique cinematic techniques, often compared to Alfred Hitchcock. His innovative use of split screens and dramatic pans has left an indelible mark on filmmaking. West’s ‘MaXXXine’ pays homage to De Palma’s legacy by directly referencing his classic works.

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MaXXXine Brian De Palma
Image Courtesy: IMDB

Set in the mid-1980s, ‘MaXXXine’ echoes De Palma’s peak era when his provocative thrillers gained mainstream attention. Films like Dressed to Kill, known for their blend of psychological intrigue and slasher horror, resonate with the tense atmosphere of ‘MaXXXine’. Both films feature protagonists navigating through menacing threats while unravelling layers of mystery and danger.

‘MaXXXine’ also delves into the bold territory by exploring the adult film industry, a subject often skirted by major Hollywood productions. This echoes De Palma’s 1984 thriller ‘Body Double’, which challenged conventions and provided a candid look at the realities of adult entertainment. In ‘MaXXXine’, the character Maxine confronts similar challenges of identity and respect within the industry, drawing parallels to De Palma’s exploration of exploitation and empowerment.

MaXXXine Brian De Palma
Image Courtesy: Koimoi

Moreover, ‘MaXXXine’ addresses broader social and cultural themes of its time, such as the ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 1980s, where moral anxieties clashed with provocative cinema. It critiques societal perceptions of film’s influence on morality while empowering its female protagonist to defy stereotypes and take control of her narrative, reminiscent of De Palma’s empowered female characters like those in ‘Carrie’.

While ‘MaXXXine’ honours De Palma’s cinematic contributions, it also modernizes certain themes and character portrayals, presenting a sexually confident protagonist who challenges outdated norms. This approach not only celebrates De Palma’s influence but also updates it for contemporary audiences, showcasing a progressive perspective on gender and empowerment in horror cinema.

– Farheen Ali