Meow! Eight Great...Hitchcock Copycats

Meow! Eight Great...Hitchcock Copycats

Dec 09, 2010

If you’re anything like us, the trailer for The Tourist reminds you of only one thing. No, not how much Johnny Depp can look like Eddie Vedder when he puts his mind (and hair follicles) to it; rather, how much director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s high-gloss spy thriller looks like something Alfred Hitchcock might have made in his prime. We give you these other movies that have borrowed liberally from the Master of Suspense himself.

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Director Brian De Palma’s entire career has been one long Hitchcock homage: Body Double was a play on Rear Window, Obsession used elements of Vertigo, and Dressed to Kill…well, from the shocking death of the lead actress to the cross-dressing killer to the clunky exposition about by the physiatrist at the end, Dressed to Kill was basically a Psycho remake before Gus Van Sant ever thought of remaking Psycho.

Basic Instinct (1992)

A film so steeped in Hitchcockian flair that you would think De Palma was the director. (He wasn’t.) Paul Verhoeven’s psychosexual thriller borrowed heavily from Vertigo, but one-upped the Hitch’s masterpiece in one verrry important way: Nudity. Unlike Hitchcock, Verhoeven was able to show his blonde leading lady (Sharon Stone) in the buff. Many, many, many times over.

The Stepfather (1987)

This ‘80s thriller is more famous today for featuring a creepy lead performance from a pre-Lost Terry O’Quinn, but back in 1987 it was known for its similarities to Shadow of a Doubt. The only problem? John Locke might be great, but he’s no Uncle Charlie. A 2009 remake of The Stepfather co-starring Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley exists, but the less said about it, the better.

Psycho (1998)

Fresh off the success of Good Will Hunting, director Gus Van Sant had the opportunity to do whatever his creative heart desired. Thus, here’s the shot-for-shot Psycho remake that you never wanted! Sigh. To be fair, Vince Vaughn is great in the Norman Bates role, and Julianne Moore (and her period-appropriate Walkman) is perfect as Lila Crane. If there’s a major flaw here -- besides the fact that it’s a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho -- it’s the casting of Anne Heche. She has neither the starpower nor gravitas of Janet Leigh.

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Proof that every director has a bit of Hitchcock in them, Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 thriller What Lies Beneath is like a potpourri of Hitch’s entire filmography. Elements of Rear Window and Psycho are ever present – Harrison Ford’s character is even named Norman -- but so too are callbacks to Spellbound and Rebecca. Unfortunately, Zemeckis relied too heavily on jump-scares to get the audience reaction he was hoping for; Hitchcock wouldn’t be caught dead using a dog to illicit a shock.

Minority Report (2002)

Call it the 40th step. While Jaws had plenty of Hitchcockian flourishes -- the push/pull zoom on Chief Brody during the Kitner killing springs to mind -- Minority Report owed more to Hitch than any other Steven Spielberg directorial effort. Much of Tom Cruise’s wrongly accused man-on-the-run felt like The 39 Steps, right down to the conspiracy tinged finale. Of course, it’s doubtful Hitchcock ever envisioned a world of pre-cogs.

Signs (2002)

Newsweek may have called him the next Spielberg, but the early portion of M. Night Shyamalan’s career was more in line with Alfred Hitchcock. M. Night is obviously a sad punchline now (disasters like The Last Airbender, The Lady in the Water and The Happening will do that), but he was at his Hitchcockian best with Signs. Like The Birds with aliens, Signs is filled with desperate silence and lots of unease. Even the score from James Newton Howard recalls the best work of Bernard Hermann. Also of note: Like the Master himself might have, Shyamalan cameos in Signs, as a creepy neighbor with a secret in his pantry.

Disturbia (2007) / Eagle Eye (2009)

Shia LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso must really love Hitchcock. Their first collaboration, Disturbia, was so much like Rear Window that executive producer Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks was sued because of similarities to the short story that Hitch’s film was based on. (The lawsuit was dismissed earlier this year.) No such legal headaches occurred when LaBeouf and Caruso teamed up two years later for Eagle Eye, though maybe that has something to do with the fact that the Dreamworks film borrowed as heavily from North by Northwest as it did from 2001.

Shutter Island (2010)

Martin Scorsese certainly played with Hitchcockian tropes during his remake of Cape Fear, but it wasn’t until this year’s Shutter Island that the Oscar-winner let his Hitch flag really fly. Like What Lies Beneath, the film feels more like a greatest hits collection of Hitchcock than anything else, but in the hands of a master like Scorsese, the homage is well earned. To wit: The jump-scares in Shutter Island derive from creepy dead kids, not Lassie.

Your turn—are you okay with ripping off Hitchcock, or is watching these movies like tearing a Band-Aid off a hairy arm? Tell us below

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