Cape Fear (1990)

Martin Scorsese directs Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte and Juliette Lewis in this thriller – the classic 1962 noir where Robert Mitchum stalks Gregory Peck’s family is remade.

Marty’s “one for them”. It starts off pretty stimulating with Scorsese employing lots of aged masters behind the scenes (Freddie Francis, Elmer Bernstein, Elaine & Saul Bass…) to reimagine the simple but effective pot boiler into an in-your-face art movie. That only engages Marty’s talent and vision for so long though. The second hour descends into lengthy improvisations from the actors. This technique does gift us one great scene… DeNiro’s epic seduction of Juliette Lewis in the school basement. Here the indulgence pays off but it is at the expense of a set piece nobody was interested in shooting on the day. And without traditional thrills you are left in the company of some very unpleasant people (scumbag lawyer, depressed shrew, jailbait, pitiful rapist) with no one to root for. It is overwrought and stagnant by the end, often a little too laughable. For a long slog your only pleasure is ticking off Hitchcock homages that are being crowbarred in for giggles. Illeana Douglas really pops in a small but difficult role.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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