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MOVIE PSYCHOS AND MADMEN
By
JOHN McCARTY (Citadel; 1993)

An admirably concise, enjoyable overview of movie psychos from a guy who knows the territory.  John McCartyís SPLATTER MOVIES: BREAKING THE LAST TABOO OF THE SCREEN is considered the premiere resource on that subject by some (not me!), and here he demonstrates an equally wide-ranging knowledge about psycho movies.  Plus MOVIE PSYCHOS AND MADMEN, like any good movie book, is packed with copious stills.

     It begins with a discussion of the many versions of DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE from the early 20th Century and concludes with a brief look at THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.  Along the way McCarty includes much illuminating info on Jack the Ripper movies, Hitchockian psychos, female crazies and reality based psychofilms.  The titles discussed include well known movies like PSYCHO, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and TAXI DRIVER, as well as more obscure items like G.W. Pabstís 1926 SECRETS OF A SOUL and the 1965 Betty David vehicle THE NANNY.

     I noticed some glaring omissions--including Wes Cravenís LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and the Japanese BLIND BEAST, both of which I feel are obligatory to any serious survey of psychofilms--but for the most part the book is quite exhaustive.  Itís also very opinionated. 

     To his credit, McCarty breaks from the critical consensus on the films of Brian DePalma in that he actually speaks highly of them.  He argues that DePalma is actually closer to the parodic, self-referential cinema of Jean-Luc Godard than that of Alfred Hitchcock (with whom heís usually compared).  Even better, McCarty recognizes Kubrickís THE SHINING as the masterpiece it is.  Iíll admit I parted ways with McCarty on his concluding dissertation of THE SILENCE OF LAMBS and Michael Mannís MANHUNTER.  He argues that SILENCE is the superior film--wrongly in my view!
 


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