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9 Movies That Inspired Maxxxine, X, and Pearl

The end of the Maxxxine trilogy lands in theaters this weekend. The trilogy of horror films explores generational journies of starlets and women reaching for superstardom. How they find that success varies greatly, from infamy to adult films and even iconic roles in B-movies. Ti West and Mia Goth collaborated to write Pearl while waiting to shoot X, while West wrote each of the other stories. With that much control over the franchise, we’ve assembled nine movies that inspired the horror showcases.

The Movies That Influenced X

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Maxxxine X Pearl

The most obvious influence on X comes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The 1974 horror classic not only broke the mold of what was possible in the genre. It also helped define a specific aesthetic that would be borrowed, recycled, and reused for years. Many grindhouse movies, including Ti West, Rob Zombie, and others, openly crib off The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It ranks among the most influential movies ever made and, in my opinion, one of the scariest. Borrowing the sun-bleached setup before a nighttime killing frenzy helps X pay homage. However, it’s the farmhouse setting, van-riding youth, and the feeling of sex in the air all contribute to the vibes.

Easy Rider (1969)

A still from Easy Rider (1969)

The movie that ushered New Hollywood into the industry, Dennis Hopper’s counterculture classic, continues its influence in X. It’s most evident in the editing, with the quick editing bouncing between the past and present to represent Maxine’s mind. When combined with RJ’s obsession with “realism” and non-linear storytelling, Easy Rider provides a road map for the filmmaking RJ pursues. It’s why the crew thinks they can make it big overnight, combined with the success of movies of the Porn Chic movement of the 1970s.

Friday the 13th (1980)

A still from Friday the 13th (1980) featuring Adrienne King

Friday the 13th borrowed elements from every successful slasher ahead of its time to build a solid foundation. In many ways, it is the ideal blueprint for a movie like X. However, because of its own power as an iconic feature, West pulls some of its stylistic aspects. Some great POV shots and a whispery score highlight some of Friday the 13th‘s best moments. X is better because of its proximity to lewd behavior and Ms. Vorhees’ hatred of young adults getting busy.

The Movies That Influenced Pearl

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz influences the technicolor of Pearl.

The bright colors and saturation of The Wizard of Oz share many characteristics with Pearl. The Texas fields of wheat feel pulled straight out of the technicolor classic. The most obvious allusion comes with the literal Scarecrow sequences. However, you can also see West’s fascination with the bright colors throughout Pearl. This musical, combined with our next entry, helps inspire the multi-color dreamlike dance sequence in the final act.

Ziegfeld Girl

Ziegfield Girl helps to inspire the dance sequences of Pearl.

Much of Ziegfeld Girl and many other musicals of the era relied on the talents of Busby Berkeley. As the choreographer of over fifty films and some of Broadway’s biggest shows, Berkeley became a draw on his own. While Footlight Parade, 42nd Street, and The Gold Diggers series were all popular, Ziegfeld Girl bears the closest resemblance to Pearl. As three women pursue their dream on Broadway. Another Judy Garland starring movie, this time with characters doing whatever they can to reach stardom, Ziegfeld Girl helps inspire the choreography and dance of Pearl. Goth became a certified superstar with Pearl, and it’s because of this performance.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Two women are torn apart by their pursuit of fame. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane gave Bette Davis and Joan Crawford a huge career boost. The anger boiling over in each character felt honest for both actresses at that time. However, Davis as Baby Jane and Goth as Pearl share a kinship. It eventually becomes text in Maxxxine (as “Bette Davis Eyes” blares toward the end of the movie). They do not understand their inability to earn the fame and fortune they are owed. They even commit familicide just to prove that point. Pulling from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? helps Pearl showcase the complexity of its lead.

The Movies that Influenced Maxxxine

Body Double

A descent into madness, murder, and pornography helped Brian De Palma touch a societal nerve. Hot off of Carrie, Blow Out, and Scarface, Body Double pushed the extremes. It’s not only a Rear Window homage but allowed De Palma to craft a provocative and lurid picture of Los Angeles. The neons and coloring of Body Double feels alive and well in Maxxxine. Most importantly, the kill scenes bear a striking resemblance to the classic thriller.


A father loses track of his daughter, who runs away to Los Angeles. Not only does she disappear, but she throws away her Christian upbringing for hardcore pornography. Sound familiar? Paul Schraeder came out swinging with his second feature, and Hardcore needled at the disconnect between Schraeder and his own father. Anchored by Schraeder’s brilliant screenplay and George C. Scott’s larger-than-life performance, Hardcore has become an undersung classic.

Peeping Tom

Throughout Maxxxine there’s a personal, if not voyeuristic, approach to the kills. Watching through the lens of the camera, West highlights a disconnect between the women being murdered on screen and the way we observe sex in popular culture. If we believe in the disconnect, we can ignore the darker truths. Peeping Tom gave Michael Powell one of the most shocking thrillers ever. It made people lose their minds when it was released and even pushed Hitchcock to get darker in the future. Pulling from the visuals Powell crafted and using some influence from Michael Mann’s Manhunter, the camera-focused POV becomes more effective in Maxxxine.

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