5 Movies Like ‘MaXXXine’ to Watch Next: What Inspired the Summer’s Buzziest Slasher Movie

Ti West’s “MaXXXine” has slashed its way into theaters. And the third film in the trilogy that began with 2022’s “X” and continued with the prequel “Pearl,” is perhaps the installment most steeped in other movies. This is a movie where, when a character is threatening Maxine (Mia Goth), the porn star that survived the events of “X” and now, circa “MaXXXine” is struggling to make it in mainstream Hollywood in 1985, they send her a newspaper clipping with the headline: “The Texas Porn Star Massacre,” a direct reference to Tobe Hooper’s immortal “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

And that’s just the beginning of the metatextual delights that make “MaXXXine” so special. We thought that we’d talk about five of the movies that fundamentally inspired “MaXXXine.”

Since we’ll be talking about plot specifics, consider this your mild spoiler warning before we get into it.

“Psycho” (1960)

Universal Pictures

One of the more overt references is to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic “Psycho.” (Unless, of course, West is a big fan of Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake from 1988.) There are two scenes that take place at the iconic Bates house, just a few steps away from the Bates Motel. In the first, Elizabeth Debicki’s director Elizabeth Bender takes Maxine to the set to talk to her about their upcoming project, “The Puritan II.” As Bender is talking to Maxine, Maxine starts to see Pearl, the elderly woman that killed most of her friends in “X.” (Goth also played Pearl, both in old woman form and as a younger version of the character in “Pearl.”) It’s a wonderful moment because Maxine could also just be imagining Norman Bates’ mother, stuffed and stuck in the window, giving it another delicious layer.

The second sequence sees Kevin Bacon’s morally bankrupt private eye Labat following Maxine through the backlot before ending up at the Bates house. Again, this has another layer, since Martin Balsam’s private investigator Milton Arbogast met his fate at the house. Lucky for Labat, he’s pulled away at the last minute, buying Maxine (and himself) some more time. Much of “MaXXXine” is about the psychic power of Hollywood and how that power can be used to corrupt; these two scenes underline that theme beautifully.

“Tenebrae” (1982)

Sigma Cinematografica

Much of the central narrative drive of “MaXXXine” takes the shape of a whodunnit, with a mysterious killer stalking Maxine and her friends. (The murders are mistakenly attributed to the Night Stalker, a real-life serial killer that terrorized Los Angeles in 1985.) The unseen murderer, with black gloves that make that distinctive squeaky noise, are hallmarks of a subgenre of Italian horror cinema called giallo. Giallo is known for featuring a killer with black gloves, multiple murders and an expressionistic, almost operatic approach to the kills themselves. (The name “giallo” translates to “yellow” and refers to the yellowed paperback pulp novels that the movies resemble.) If you had to pick one giallo to watch alongside “MaXXXine,” we’d probably go with Dario Argento’s classic “Tenebrae.” It has a similarly playful, meta streak, as it follows an American author (Anthony Franciosa) abroad, when murders start eerily resembling those in his latest novel (also called “Tenebrae”). It’s a killer.

“Body Double” (1984)

Body Double
Columbia Pictures

There are plenty of Brian De Palma references littered throughout “MaXXXine,” most notably its use of split screen and an abundance of POV shots. But the De Palma movie it is most closely resembles is “Body Double.” Not only do both movies investigate the intersection of legitimate moviemaking and the seedier porn world side, but there’s also a crucial set piece set to a Frankie Goes to Hollywood song from their iconic 1984 album “Welcome to the Pleasuredome.” In “Body Double” it was, of course, “Relax.” In “MaXXXine,” it’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome.” There’s also a big sequence set at a dramatic Hollywood home. (Full disclosure: the house in “MaXXXine” doesn’t hold a candle to the Chemosphere, a modernist Los Angeles house designed by famed architect John Lautner, that is featured heavily in “Body Double.” But the “MaXXXine” house is still pretty cool.) Also, both films feature movies-within-movies, which are both low-budget horror movies. And do you really need another reason to re-watch “Body Double?”

“8 Million Ways to Die” (1986)

8 Million Ways to Die
Tri-Star Pictures

This is a very specific reference but one that is very important to “MaXXXine.” In “8 Million Ways to Die,” Hal Ashby’s underrated final film (he died two years later), there’s a villain (played by Andy Garcia) who lives in a fancy house connected by a funicular. The elaborateness of the house does so much to emphasize just how much of a powerful bad guy Garcia is – you have to take a special vehicle to get to it. It’s such an iconic, memorable element of “8 Million Ways to Die,” which similarly explores the seedy underbelly of otherwise glamorous Los Angeles (and featured a script co-written by Oliver Stone and the late, great Robert Towne). You can picture a younger West watching that movie and thinking how cool it was, eventually putting a villain that has a house only accessible by funicular (referred to in “MaXXXine” as a “gondola,” which isn’t technically true but gets the point across). And those “8 Million Ways to Die” diehards, just seeing the vehicle was enough to elicit a tiny cheer. The movie is streaming on Prime Video. Watch it if you like kick-ass movies.

“The Witch” (2015)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch

The legitimate movie that Maxine is working on is “The Puritan II,” which bears more than a passing resemblance to “Pearl.” (There’s another moment where Maxine sees a group of extras dressed as World War I soldiers, another nifty connection to “Pearl.”) But the first “Puritan,” which is referenced by various characters and Maxine watches at one point, is pretty clearly a reference to “The Witch,” Robert Eggers’ 2015 masterpiece. What makes the reference so fun is that “The Witch,” like “MaXXXine” (and the rest of the trilogy), is an A24 film. Like “The Witch,” “The Puritan” features a young woman (this time played by Lily Collins instead of Anya Taylor-Joy) in puritan times entranced by sinister forces. Even the image of Collins biting into an apple filled with blood feels vaguely “Witch”-y.

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