Quick: Name five stars who got their start in horror movies. This is such an easy question, even for much of today’s modern crop of Gen-Z talent. So posing it in the 1980s is hardly fair. And yet, that is what Mia Goth’s eternally striving dreamer does at the top of the new MaXXXine trailer from A24.

“Jamie Lee Curtis, John Travolta, Demi Moore, and—” Maxine’s video store clerk buddy rattles off. She cuts him off before what surely must have been Kevin Bacon. At least it’s easy to presume this, because the trailer almost immediately cuts to a shot of a slightly older Bacon, who’s transitioned from big screen heartthrob to cinema statesman, stating, “My employer is a very powerful man.” Once upon a time, Bacon might’ve said the same thing about Sean S. Cunningham. After all, Bacon got his start in Cunningham’s ‘80s schlock classic, Friday the 13th (1980).

It would seem Ti West’s MaXXXine will be awash in such backward-looking wistfulness as gleaned in the above sizzle reel. This is not surprising since the first part of the unlikely trilogy, 2022’s X, was clearly inspired by the low budget (some might even call it amateurish) aesthetics and legends around Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which is seen as one of the forerunners of the slasher subgenre. Meanwhile that same year’s prequel, Pearl, reached even further back with a World War I setting that was framed in a distinctly World War II-like Hollywood spectacle. Portions of the film were blatantly inspired by MGM’s splashy The Wizard of Oz technicolor musical in 1939, even as the horror elements more clearly resembled the psychological dread of a Val Lewton picture from the 1940s.

And yet, for the franchise capper, MaXXXine will embrace the era that most folks think of when they hear the term “slasher movies:” 1980s sleaze and excess.

In the new trailer, we see the VHS-tinged splatter factor that younger moviegoers might now associate with the Shudder streaming library. There is the Bacon factor; the eerie choice to also intertwine Maxine’s Hollywood sojourn with the real-life serial killer known as the Night Stalker (real name: Richard Ramirez) who between 1984 and 1985 killed at least 13 people across California, sending a chill that spread from Los Angeles and San Francisco; and there appears to be even a movie-within-a-movie that Maxine is making, albeit maybe a few steps up from the pornography she starred in during X.

MaXXXine will likely unpack (and perhaps incorporate?) true stories of LA horror in order to create an environment that reflects both the seediness of the horror genre in this era and the even grimmer stuff occurring off the screen. Nonetheless, there is a sense of the larger influence of cinema history pouring out of the frame, even in this trailer. Consider that at least one set piece is visibly set on the Universal Pictures backlot where to this day the set for the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) still stands.

Many consider Psycho to be the first slasher movie, though this is contested by those who point to that same year’s Peeping Tom as the paterfamilias. Either way, Psycho was a landmark film in the horror genre and Hollywood history at large. By setting a major scene (and perhaps a death?) on that storied Bates Motel set, West signals he is going back to the beginning for his love letter to the movies that made big stars out of proverbial pin cushions.

MaXXXine released on July 5, 2024.

The post Maxine Promises to Be a Slasher Movie in Love with Hollywood’s Past appeared first on Den of Geek.

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