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American Psycho

I got mixed feelings about this piece because it works on one level but then in my opinion it oughta work on another level too. This is the movie version of the controversial book about Pat Bateman, the yuppie who is obsessed with designer clothes and mutilating women.

In the movie, Pat says right upfront that he has no insides, but I don’t think he really believes it. I think some part of him believes that because he has this secret life stabbing homeless dudes and chainsawing women, he is a little bit different from all the soulless, materialistic businessmen he keeps getting confused with. He has something that makes him stand out. And not to give anything away, because I’m not sure I really understood the ending otherwise I would give it away, but I think it has kind of an ironic Twilight Zone type ending that all this may have been a delusion so he doesn’t even have THAT to make him unique. The sap.

American PsychoWell unfortunately I think the movie is kind of the same way. The surface is all real good, but it is operating under the delusion that it has something underneath too. And I mean it really makes a run at it. But in the end, like Pat, you realize that maybe there really is no insides at all.

I mean let’s be honest folks, making fun of yuppies in the ’80s is like sharpshooting the side of a really big barn. Not that the movie doesn’t do a good job of shooting the barn. I laughed at alot of this stuff. I liked all the shots of the fancy food that is too small for the plates. I liked how every restaraunt has it’s own oversized novelty menu. And I like how when all the yuppies discuss the fonts on their new business cards, dramatic music plays and the intensity of Pat’s eyes tells us that he has been driven to murder.

Christian Bale, the dude that plays Pat, is PERFECT. I can’t imagine anyone else more perfectly summing up the essence of this character, from his snobby ass conversational tone to his toned abs. His pretty hair do, muscular body and smooth, tanned complexion look so authentic that this movie can be hilarious just by showing him run around naked holding a chainsaw.

And the little details of Patrick’s empty life are very funny, from his detailed monologue about which facial cleansers he uses in the morning to the way he meticulously tapes newspapers to the floor before a murder – not to hide evidence, I’m sure, but to protect the carpet. Jesus, Pat. You’re a real american psycho in my opinion.

But when it comes down to it, I mean, we all know that yuppies are a bunch of fucks. I mean okay, maybe there’s one or two individuals out there living in a rock in zimbabwe that don’t know that yuppies are a bunch of fucks. But even those individuals, I would say there is about an 80, 85% chance they are either retarded or just call it something else besides “yuppie,” because the zimbabwe culture is different.

Anyway, this is not new information, this thing about the yuppies. There needs to be a little something more to connect this satire to ourselves or at least to ’90s equivalents of Pat.

So if you look at this just as a slasher picture with a gimmick, it’s a pretty good one. I mean if you’re thinking along the lines of Maniac Cop, Ice Cream Man, Uncle Sam, Leprechaun, Jack Frost, Dr. Giggles, etc. then this is a pretty damn good one. I mean REAL damn good. The attention to detail and what not goes above and beyond the call of citizenship or whatever the saying is. But if you want it to be Clockwork Orange or Fight Club or even Maniac then you can for fucking get it. It’s not scary or an Important Satire of Our Times but yes, it is funny and I look forward to American Psycho In the Hood or some other straight to video sequel with Ice-T and Mario Van Peebles.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 15th, 2000 at 10:41 am and is filed under Crime, Horror, Mystery, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

53 Responses to “American Psycho”

  1. I’m not 100% sure about this one. I’ve seen it a few times now, and I think I like the idea of Patrick Bateman the yuppie serial killer more than I do the story the movie is trying to tell. It’s a little bit confusing. I understand he’s this hollow entity living in a material world. He states to us that he’s no longer occupying his body, that his mask of sanity is slipping, that he’s on the verge of frenzy. But nearly every murder is presented as a possible dream or wish-fulfillment on Batemans behalf, except for maybe the homeless guy and the dog. Most of the people he kills are in Paul Allen’s apartment, whom he also supposedly killed but is later revealed to be alive and well, living in London. And then there’s real estate lady at the end who tells him to leave the now vacant apartment – is it because she’s afraid of him, knowing there were (supposed) corpses littered throughout the building which they cleaned up to sell the place, and that he is possibly the killer? Or does she just think he’s a freak?

    I don’t know. But I love Bale’s performance. I liked his critiques on Genesis and Whitney Houston before he offed someone. In some parts he seemed to be channeling Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura. Anyway, this movie mostly reminded me of why the 80’s was my least favorite decade to be alive in. And yeah, fuck the yuppie fucks.

    On the other hand, the DTV sequel AMERICAN PSYCHO 2, I am 110% sure sucks yuppie balls. I got it in a double pack, so I watched it. And I hated it. It played like an el cheapo daytime soap opera of this girl in university who is obsessed with getting in to the FBI, so she kills anyone who gets in her way. There were 3 things I liked about this which may be worth mentioning –

    – It was an early lead role for Mila Kunis, who is cute (though her acting was not the best in this, well, not enough to detract attention from her sometimes grating voice).

    – It had one good idea, story-wise – this girl as a 12 year old was abducted along with her babysitter by Patrick Bateman, who was continuing his (again, supposed) killing spree after the first movie. And while
    he’s torturing the babysitter, she manages to kill Patrick Bateman, and then grows up to become this sociopath. But the story doesn’t get much better after this nice little intro. Unless you want to see William Shatner falling out a window and getting blown up in a car crash.

    – And lastly, when Mila is getting profiled by her pyschologist, and he describes the attributes of a sociopath, my thoughts wandered to someone in my life with similar tendencies. So I sorta learned something new about people with psychological problems. And to sleep with one eye open.

  2. I am embarrassed by how much I loved AMERICAN PSYCHO the book when I was 15. I don’t think I understood it at all. I just liked the gore. That’s all I got out of it.

  3. I’ve seen it whilst channel surfing so never in complete form really. As a Genesis fanboy, I’m of a rather negative opinion of it because in any discussion on a non-prog/Genesis-friendly site of the band that dialogue is frequently quoted. It’s not quite “I hate the fucking Eagles” fortunately, but it kind of stung from a perspective of someone who likes the work non-ironically.

  4. I got bored after reading about a quarter of the book. The endless descriptions of the yuppie regime, peppered with the occasional mutilation or axe-murder. But the book was the first one I saw in shops that was wrapped in plastic and slapped with an age restriction that wasn’t in the porn section. So I was enticed. But yeah, not much to say about anything significant. Maybe that’s the point, the yuppie lifestyle had nothing much to offer. You sacrifice your basic decent humanity for a life obsessed with looking and being and owning the best. Or Bateman was just a psychopath, and would have been just as crazy if he were a working class guy like Gacy.

    **to correct my first line above – “I’m not 100% sure about this one,*either*.” Obviously I read Vern’s review first and share his sentiment. Respect, Vern.

    Also, Genesis I’m not a fan of, but I know of their reputation for technical achievements. But what does Sussudio mean? Is it even a word? Anyone?

  5. I started to read AMERICAN PSYCHO at the time the movie came out. I didn´t finish it. In fact I didn´t get very far. It was the yuppie-douchebag characters (my least favourite human being) that closed the deal. Now the paperback edition is buried underneath a lot of VHS-tapes in my closet.

  6. I guess you could say that Ellis kicks in wide open doors when he’s criticizing the yuppie culture. But speaking as a fan of the real 80’s – the rock music, Dr Martins boot and black slim fit jeans, among other things – I don’t think it can be said enough. In the 80’s we knew how to hate things properly too. And that includes Genesis.

  7. Even I can’t defend “Sussudio”.

  8. I can never keep track of when Phil Collins were in the band.

  9. Another Day in Paradise is legit Phil Collins’ greatest solo song aside from In The Air Tonight but for some reason people still want to remember him for crap like Sussudio and forget that that song ever even existed.

  10. Phil joined Genesis in 1970, when he was 19. He actually sung quite a bit on those early records, mostly as back-up to Peter Gabriel but there were two tracks where he was the only singer during that time. TRICK OF THE TAIL, the first album done after Gabriel left is tied with the more lauded LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY as my favorite Genesis album. Once their guitarist Steve Hackett left they started doing less progressive rock and more pop songs, but that side of the band never left completely. They still did 10-minute plus songs on albums like INVISIBLE TOUCH or WE CAN’T DANCE.

    I like his solo stuff, but it lacked something that even Genesis had during the same time. Apart from his first solo album FACE DANCES which featured “In The Air Tonight”, a lot of his solo stuff stayed pretty much in the pop/R&B/ballad-y style of “Against All Odds”. What I liked is that he still played drums on his stuff and on stage, unlike Don Henley who I don’t think has ever played them on his own solo albums apart. He was a good drummer for the Eagles until they broke up, but when I listen to some of the stuff he’s playing on HELL FREEZES OVER you can tell he was a little rusty behind the kit. But from what I’ve seen since then he’s improved a little, but he always had a simple technique to beghin with.

  11. I recently had a mock feud going with a coworker. See, everybody at our job one day just started overusing the phrase legit. I mean, like every single time they wanted to express a positive opinion about something, they would say legit. It started to get out of hand. I noticed people just saying legit as a way to acknowledge that they heard the person talking but didn’t want to contribute anything to the conversation (the way most people say uh-huh). As a way of pointing out how dumb this all seemed to me, I began using variations of Sussudio in situations where others would have been saying legit. I would say something was Sudio if it was good, Sussudio if it was really good, and Su-Su-Sudio if it was freaking amazing. This sort of drove my coworker crazy because of how much he hated that song. I explained that this was sort of the point. Anyway, the Phil Collins/Genesis comments above reminded me of this and I felt like sharing that in hopes that my newfound use of Phil Collins’ most ridiculous phrase might catch on.

  12. Dtroyt— It’s too bad your coworkers didn’t man up, throw aside their new catchword, and collectively walk off the job, but I guess they were too legit to quit (sorry; just couldn’t help it).

    To weigh in on the Phil Collins/Genesis mini-jihad that’s being kicked up, in all fairness “Shock The Monkey” is nearly as stupid an idea for a song title (as is the song itself) as “Sussudio”. Evidently being the lead singer of Genesis meant that at some point you had to lyrically run off the rails.

    I liked AMERICAN PSYCHO quite a bit the first time I saw it, but I thought it hedged its bets in terms of its potential ability to disturb. Maybe that was Mary Harron’s doing, or maybe the suits financing it wanted her to tone it down. Interesting, subtly macabre and somewhat esoteric for its time just the same.

    A couple of years later, when it was announced that Christopher Nolan was directing a Batman reboot, and AICN was still what Drew McWeeny correctly termed “the best movie focus group on the Internet”, I was far from the only person who posted on AICN that Bale would be perfect for Batman/Bruce Wayne. *That* particular opinion based solely on his performance as Patrick Bateman.

    The two characters seem both basically inclined towards vigilante justice and semi-obsessed with doing what they interpret as “the right thing”. The difference being that Bateman’s modus operandi is turned up to 11 and he’s way off his gourd, while Wayne has a troubled past but is still basically stable, and operating at about a 7 or 8.

  13. I’m blaming myself for this one, but I kinda regret bringing up Sussudio, because I’ve been FUCKING SINGING IT FOR THE PAST 48 HOURS!

    My mask of sanity is slipping. I feel lethal,

    You know the rest…..

    (Lock up your dogs and homeless dudes.)

  14. Darren—You have to return some videotapes!

    (Yes, the lyrics to Sussudio utterly suck, but the music itself is still catchy. Color yourself absolved).

  15. There’s a passage in the book where Ellis’ personal taste in music shines through. Bateman’s at a U2 concert and for a brief moment he actually feels something.

  16. Larry- your awful too legit to quit pun made me laugh. And now I’m wishing that every time someone said “legit”, I had simply responded by saying “hammer time”.

    Pegsman- granted they were a much different band when the book was written but U2? Come on, Bateman. That’s just lame. Even in the relative musical wasteland of the 80s I think there were better options for a yuppie psycho than freakin’ U2.

    Not Sudio at all.

  17. I much prefer the big band version

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBSteFVINc

  18. Dtroyt; The musical wasteland of the 80s? Every band that’s great today started in the 80s. And every genre that still holds up started in the 80s. I won’t defend Ellis’ choice of band, other than that it would be the only trendy band of that time Bateman would go to that also had fairly decent lyrics and an epic sound, but if you read the chapters where he lists the bands/artists Batemen likes you’ll see that that the man knew what the 80s were all about. It had to be U2.

  19. Pegsman- I probably went a little too far with my musical wasteland statement, but for me personally it is a pretty bad time for music. I mean, of course, there was some great stuff (for me, Prince’s stuff from the 80s is incredible), but there was also some truly awful stuff. And it was also a time when some artists who have been great in other decades put out stuff that I just can’t listen to. Bowie, the Stones, Springsteen and others had (again, just my opinion) their absolute worst work come out in the 80s. Anyway, it’s all just personal taste and there’s no right or wrong answer here but I am just not a huge 80s music fan.

  20. I fucking hate U2 and always have, so having their sanctimonious bullshit be what makes the tin man think he has a heart is perfect for me.

  21. Unfortunately people seem to just remember the bad stuff from each decade (read; hit lists). But if you’re into punk, rock ‘n roll, country or folk, the it’s hard to beat the 80’s.

  22. Mr Majestyk, you didn’t hate U2 in the 80s.

  23. I didn’t even really know who they were. I was just a kid, and I wasn’t really into music yet. I learned to dislike them in the 90s.

  24. Larry, well, I need to return AMERICAN PSYCHO 2 to the store and ask for a refund.

    That’s legit.

  25. I hated U2 in the 80s. Sorry. I did love some of the hardcore 80s punk (Minor Threat and the Dead Kennedys, for example) and definitely some old school hip hop. But I think rock and roll particularly suffered in the 80s thanks to keyboards and saxophones. (Although there was some great metal in the first half of the decade… Maiden!… And Guns and Roses did put out Appetite for Destruction in the second half and that’s one of the best straight up rock albums ever) But, overall for me, it was pretty easy to beat the 80s on any genre you mentioned. I think rock, country and folk all fared better in the 70s than the 80s. But again, it’s all just personal taste. I’m not trying to take away anyone’s joy or say that their opinion is wrong. I just happen to see (or hear, I suppose) it differently.

  26. Darren— good crossover, mate. But (in keeping with that train of thought) Bale and Kunis would make for a weird couple. She’s too perky for him; he’s too intense for her.

    Mr. M— U2 has, and always will be, an utterly pretentious pseudo-rock band with pop leanings that should have, along with Madonna, somehow expired in the late 80s, but here they both thrive among the idiot masses— some of those fools longing for nostalgic recuperation, others mired in delusionary thinking they’ve discovered something fresh.

    If there’s a Hell, all five of them are going to it, if only as penance.

  27. Larry- “shock the monkey” was supposed to be masturbation euphemism whereas “Sussudio” was actually some scat phrasing that Collins would sometimes use as temporary lyrics while working on a song. Apparently, a producer or his band mates or somebody convinced him to keep the scat stuff instead of actually finishing the song. Just because of that goofiness, I give this one to Collins, though masturbation aficionados might give it to Gabriel. Also, I don’t know why I know this much about these goofy songs.

  28. SHOCK THE MONKEY is about animal testing, surely?

    I like U2’s post modern 90s phase. ACHTUNG BABY is a classic, and ZOOROPA is an album the Pet Shop Boys wouldn’t have been ashamed of (that’s a compliment in the UK). I find it weird they put their masks back on at the end of the decade, carried on being as or more earnest as they were in the 80s to huge returns, and nobody seems to mention or find it suspect this is from a band who toured the world in a giant lemon and dressed up as the Village People.

    Also, most fun I’ve ever had at a concert? Huey Lewis and the News, no contest.

  29. Packman- don’t know where I first heard the masturbation thing, but a quick google tells me that Peter Gabriel says “shock the monkey” is actually about jealousy, so I stand corrected there.

  30. Also, I apologize for my autocorrect, which inexplicably added a “k” to your name, Pacman

  31. Dtroyt— I thought “spank the monkey” was the euphemism for wanking it. No matter. Though you’re spot on about 80’s Metal: Van Halen, AC/DC, The Scorpions, Maiden, Metallica, Ozzy’s stuff w/Randy Rhoads, and (yes, so briefly) Ratt. And then Guns N’ Roses segueing it into Hair Metal in ’87. I kind of discount Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue, and Cinderella following in their wake… but Whitesnake WAS way cool, if only briefly.

    I somewhat agree with Gene Simmons’s recent assertion that Rock & Roll is dead, but back then it was THRIVING like a motherfucker. We just either didn’t appreciate it enough, or [incorrectly] assumed it would endure.

    Pacman— Get the FUCK outta here with that Huey Lewis hoo-hah, guy. I had a floor seat for David Bowie at the tail end of the Serious Moonlight tour back in ’83. Fucking masterful, with Earl Slick on lead guitar, and he had every member of that audience (me included) in the palm of his hand. An incredible evening.

  32. I think Rock is dead too, but mainly as pop culture which is fine with me. I highly recommend Steven Hyden’s series of articles entitled “The Winners’ History of Rock and Roll”. It pretty much encapsulates why it’s gone so downhill, and is quite infuriating to read at times, but it all feels true.

  33. Pacman— upon further consideration, no disrespect intended. But to ME, Huey Lewis’s only legacy is that he looks like the guy who Hans Gruber posted at the front desk after he & his posse took control of the Nakatomi Plaza.

    I mean, fuck the power of love and it’s hip to be square and whatnot besides… to me, he’s just the lookalike of the guy who chats up/attempts to deter Al Powell The Twinkieman shortly before the hostage situation goes hinky in DIE HARD.

  34. Peoples taste in music is always very personal – even more so than movies – which makes a debate about what’s gold and what’s shite futile. What one especially never under any circumstances should do is crapping on certain bands and then mention a bunch of bands you like yourself, but who are of course hated by the other half of the world. Then you’ve really stuck your bare arse out of the window for all to see.

  35. Larry: Not even his famous bit part in BACK TO THE FUTURE?

  36. Larry; no disrespect taken, I wouldn’t have posted it in the way I did if I thought this place was going to be stuffed with HL&TN fans. But I should qualify that I did mean the *most fun* I’ve ever had at a concert, rather than the *best*. They are, after all, a band with nothing more on their mind than giving people a good time. Best concert? Possibly Echo & The Bunnymen performing their first two albums. I have good luck with bands with “& the” in their name.

    Admittedly, my taste in music seems to be very different to a lot of posters here (and I wouldn’t say HL&TN are particularly representative of my tastes). For one thing I have very little interest in hip-hop, it’s not something I dislike, and there are individual tracks I like/love, but there’s not a single artist I could honestly claim to be a fan of. I suppose my main likes could broadly be described as synthpop, classic progressive rock (so, yes, I am a big Genesis fan) and ambient music. I also have a lot of time for old school House/rave, country, classic pop acts like The Beach Boys and singer/songwriters from more obvious ones like Springsteen and Paul Simon to more forgotten names like Lloyd Cole. And I do have a soft spot for a lot of MOR and stadium rock (hence I have heard “a few” U2 albums).

    I have seen Elvis Costello, the Brett Easton Ellis-approved intellectual Ying to Huey’s brawny yang, and to be frank he was an arsehole, but the concert was good. I do think he is overrated as a songwriter though, he is good, but by no means exponentially better than some of his peers, like oh, I’ll go for the last act I saw, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze.

  37. I like Huey Lewis, Pacman. SPORTS is a basically perfect little album. My favorite track is “Walking on a Thin Line.” It’s an awesome strutting-down-the-street song.

  38. I love David Lee Roth’s quote that the reason Elvis Costello gets on the cover of ROLLING STONE and he doesn’t is because so many of the writers look like him.

  39. onthewall, your big band experience link reminded me that Collins is one of the few lead singers who can skillfully combine vocals and drum playing. As a guitarist and singer with *very* moderate talent who attempts the occasional tune, I have nothing but admiration (envy).

  40. It’s funny because at some point he gave up playing piano live because he’d often get the words wrong. He didn’t do a lot of singing from behind the kit, save for “In The Air Tonight” and “Follow You, Follow Me” on the last Genesis tour. Neither seemed to suffer for it like you said.

    There are probably better examples in Levon Helm and even Henley. If you watch any Eagles live stuff, on stuff like “Hotel California” or “Life In The Fast Lane” he’s pretty much consistently done both. On slower stuff like “Desperado” he’s done it more out front lately.

  41. So basically you guys have pretty much the same taste in music as Patrick Bateman.

  42. We haven’t quite invoked the virtues of “Lady In Red” yet.

  43. And I’ll always resent Whitney Houston for ruining R&B singing forever. I think that clearly proves that I’m no psychopath.

  44. I don’t understand why Whitney gets the rap for ruining R&B singing. Her ca-ry & you-oo are a far ca-ry from the vocal acrobatics going on nowadays.

  45. Sure, she seems minimalist compared to the pyrotechnics displays today’s showboats are spewing out in lieu of finding the soul in the melody itself. But she got that particular ever-escalating arms race going, in my opinion, so I hold her accountable.

    “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is still kind of the jam, though.

  46. This Whitney commentary has me thinking about that Mad TV sketch where she sings with Randy Newman and keeps oversinging her notes to the point of hilarity.

    If this thread managed to get everybody on the same page about one thing it’s that Bono and his cronies are a bunch of cunts.

  47. Pacman have you ever heard 801 LIVE? I think considering your tastes that it will be right up your alley. It’s one of my personal all time favorite albums and I’m someone who unlike you loves hip hop and can’t stand Paul Simon.

  48. I don’t think that’s what I’m going to remember from this thread, Broddie, but at least I was able to prove one of my pet theories.

  49. I’m sort of in agreement about U2. I like some of their music, but their sort of idolization of Rock and Roll doesn’t make me wonder why too much that people think it’s dead. When I heard that their new single was called “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”, I wished I had the song-writing capabilities to come up with “The Second Coming of Rick Wakeman”.

  50. Broddie- no I haven’t heard it, just looked it up and it is intriguing, thanks for the tip

  51. pegsman, some of us also have the same taste in movies as Bateman. I believe he watches THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and porn, while he’s working out.

  52. I’m seriously tempted to break my own rule, that’s for sure.

  53. aussie party pills

    American Psycho « The Life and Art of Vern

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