I watched the movie, Cape Fear tonight.
Last time I saw it, I was thirteen, sleeping over at my best mate’s and her parents decided to take us to the movies. An odd choice for two innocent kids (more innocent than most), given it’s a psychological thriller about a rapist who terrorizes a family.
What the fuck were they thinking?
They were kinda weird like that, too cool to be good parents. Yuppies you see, the 80’s kind. The dad had a weird body (built like a man on top, but with Liza Minnelli legs) and I always wondered how he’d landed the mum (who was beautiful). She dressed like the sister of my mate, not her mother, and worked out like she was exor-cise-ing the demon (or waiting for him to trade her in for a younger model) (which he eventually did).
Not so surprising then, that they’d treat us like the adults we weren’t and take us to a monumentally inappropriate movie. I was bloody terrified, I never forgot it.
Watching it with adult eyes gives me new appreciation. I wonder now if Martin Scorsese intended it as an homage to Hitchcock or the classic suspense thrillers of the 1950s. I can see why it remained so powerfully in my memory all of these years – it has the feel of classics like Rear Window and Vertigo with short, swirling camera shots and heavy dramatic music. It seemed so hammy then, but weren’t the classics a little silly and melodramatic? Even the choice of Jessica Lange seems a nod to Kim Novak or Eva Marie Saint.
The irony is that if it had been made in the Decade of Denial, maybe it wouldn’t have evoked such terror (Hitchcock notwithstanding). Much as I love old Hollywood, they seemed too intent on glamour to successfully depict violence or the crevices of the human psyche.
It’s seems almost better to have a modern homage (with Scorsese at the wheel), taking a little from each to create a hybrid of terror and ham, and a side of fries.