After working in the genre for nearly two decades, Ti West delivered his most terrifying film in X, a retro-slasher set in 1979 Texas that pays homage to some of the halcyon days of ’70s horror filmmakers like Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, John Carpenter and others. The film follows a homegrown adult film production that goes horribly wrong in Austin, Texas, becoming a hyper-gory bloodbath full of thrills when the filming hosts don’t take the illicit activity too kindly.
From independent imports to iconic brands and everything in between, X joins a mortifying crop of gritty retro-slasher films that either directly influenced him or are worth watching in tandem with him.
Wolf Creek – Stream on Roku
Adhering to the same smoldering tempo as X that draws viewers into the story and lets them really get to know the characters, Greg McLean wolf creek is a slasher film that thematically also deals with the intolerance of young foreigners.
One of Australia’s great outback horror films, the story follows a trio of backpackers in Australia who are abandoned and tormented by a seemingly friendly bushman (John Jarratt), whose kind demeanor is only a front for his violent psychosis and penchant for murder. As x, the film slowly builds into a jaw-dropping eruption of bloody action in the finale that leaves viewers stunned.
Green Room – Stream On Fubo
Swap an amateur porn film crew with a punk rock band and the premise of Jeremy Saulnier’s excellent underrated horror movie Green Hall is not so different. In addition to the deliberate pacing, the film about a band violently offended by Nazi skinheads in the Green Room of their upcoming gig is gritty, visceral, and very disturbing.
Thematically, both X and green room make exaggerated statements about intolerance and the barbaric acts of violence that can result from it. However, as West delves into the slasher genre, Saulnier does his best to subvert expectations of slasher movies to deliver something truly unique.
The Visit – Stream on Apple TV+
As for the eerily surreal tone the film takes on once the team arrives at their former home in Texas, X somehow reminds Visit, the twisty, playfully sadistic fish out of water from M. Night Shyamalan. Both films also rely on a key plot twist to work as the aliens adjust to their new surroundings, though neither works as well as expected.
Visit follows two young siblings sent to stay with their grandparents, where increasingly bizarre and violent behavior occurs. Although less bloody, the mystery, tension, and suspense leading up to the shocking twist are on par with those of X.
High Voltage – Stream on AMC+
Due to its sleek aesthetic, an abundance of crane, and a wildly unplanned twist ending, the French import of Alexandre Aja High tension made quite a mark in the horror realm when it was released. A villainous character study in the guise of an ultra-gory slasher movie, the story follows two friends vacationing at a remote lakeside farm, only to be systematically hunted down and hunted by a mysterious culprit.
The way the film plays with the mind of the audience, subverts expectations, while reinforcing all the halcyon tenets of 1970s slasher cinema is second to none. As Xit transcends the slasher movie homage and becomes something entirely original.
Scream – Stream on Paramount+
It’s hard to argue about landscape-altering slasher movies and not mention the work Wes Craven put into entertaining Yell franchise, a horror movie as meta and self-aware as there’s ever been (note all the classic horror movies it references). Ti West knows as much, opting for lace X with its own self-reflective nods to slasher cinema, including the cast of the new YellJenna Ortega as Lorraine.
A24 Horror Movies Aren’t Known For Being Fun Or Even Funny, Yet X manages to season its story with doses of biting humor and a silly sense of self-awareness that’s as fresh and gripping as what Scream blazed the trail 25 years earlier.
The last house on the left – Stream On Tubi
Yes X reflects Scream’s playful sense of self-awareness, it also reflects Wes Craven’s brazen brutality and hard-to-watch violations The last House on the left, one of the most controversial horror films ever made. So compelling it can be construed as an almost snuff movie, the story charts the furious revenge of two parents whose daughter is sexually assaulted by murderous thugs.
Additionally, West consciously recreates the gritty, gritty, rough film and visual aesthetic that made Craven’s film feel like a sick documentary rather than a polished Hollywood production. X owes a lot to Wes Craven, that’s for sure.
Suspiria – Stream on Amazon Prime
fans of X are almost certain to walk away with an appreciation for Mia Goth’s searing central performance. For another 70s horror movie with Goth, Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s scariest movie, Suspiria, is highly recommended.
Although this is more of a wicked sorcery story than an outright slasher movie, Suspiria is also about a group of sexy young people met with hostility by their intolerant older hosts. Hidden identities, secret cult-like sects, and sky-high gore all abound in another maddening slow-mo.
Psycho – Stream On Peacock
The definitive ancestor of the slasher film (with Voyeur), by Alfred Hitchcock psychology is referenced many times in X, making it an ideal companion. The peephole, the woman in the window, the car in the lake, the corpse in the basement, and more are all direct homages to Hitchcock’s horror classic and one of its greatest villains.
The bold burst of psychology killed its main character during the first reel and forced the audience to switch allegiance to Norman Bates, making them accomplices in his psychosis. In XMaxine (gothic) mentions this very dynamic as a sort of prefiguration.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Stream On Fubo
More than any movie, it’s Tobe Hooper’s sordid sensibility as seen in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which are most important in X. The acrid heat of Texas, the filthy sweat, the dirty aesthetic reflecting the subject matter and the explosion of very unnerving carnage combine to serve as a giant nod to the horror classic by Hooper.
You could even argue that X is a better franchise entry than Netflix’s recent Abyss remake, Chainsaw Massacre. X is scarier, bloodier, funnier, and reminds horror fans that simply regurgitating a title doesn’t automatically put it on par with the original.
Eaten Alive – Stream on AMC+
In addition to The Texas Chainsaw MassacreWest also pays tribute to Tobe Hooper’s underrated follow-up movieeaten alive. Namely, the rural seclusion of the seedy brothel-like house chosen for the porn shoot, the lascivious nature of the characters, and the level of visceral gore perpetrated by the aged characters, the parallels are hard to ignore.
For true horror fans, note that eaten alive is also known as slaughter hotel. But there is another Italian horror movie called Slaughter Hotela.k.a The eroticism of asyluma quasi-pornographic slasher flick that would be shocking if West had never seen, let alone thought of when crafting the story for X.
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