Disturbia, Obsession and Dressed to Kill are among the films inspired by Hitchcock

 Shia LaBeouf in Disturbia. Picture: Jaimie Trueblood/Paramount Pictures
Shia LaBeouf in Disturbia. Picture: Jaimie Trueblood/Paramount Pictures

Let's take a closer look at some of the adaptations of and variations on films by Alfred Hitchcock.

Disturbia: Shia LaBeouf plays a kid under house arrest who takes to spying on his neighbours and comes to believe one of them is a murderer. All very Rear Window, but director DJ Caruso (Eagle Eye) is no Hitch and writers Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye) and Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) are no John Michael Hayes. Nor is the cast up to the level of James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr. It's far from the worst of its kind, though: this is OK as disposable entertainment but you can only hope it encouraged viewers to try the real thing.

High Anxiety: Having parodied Westerns and Universal's Frankenstein movies, Mel Brooks turned his attention to Hitchcock for material. The result is this 1977 mash-up of many Hitchcockian themes, motifs and moments. The set-up references Spellbound: Brooks plays an acrophobic psychiatrist who comes to work at a mental institution where the secretive staff seem crazier than the patients. There are references to Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds and other films made by Hitchcock (and others). Hitchcock was reportedly amused and flattered.

Obsession: Brian De Palma acknowledges Alfred Hitchcock as an inspiration and nowhere is that clearer than in this 1976 variation on Vertigo with a more familial storyline (though no less bizarre). Cliff Robertson plays a man whose wife and daughter are kidnapped and apparently killed: years later he encounters a young woman who is a dead ringer for his wife. Bernard Herrmann's score - one of his last - is impressive, though I'd still say Vertigo - which topped the last Sight & Sound critics' poll as best film ever, unseating Citizen Kane - bests this musically and in all other ways.

Dressed to Kill (1980)is another De Palma film that owes a clear debt to Hitchcock. There's a star who dies early, a shower scene, transvestism, murder, and psychiatry, for example, though the film is a lot bloodier than anything Hitchcock made. Given how sexually graphic Frenzy (1972) was, we can only wonder if Hitchcock's films would have become even more explicit had he kept working in the more permissive era.

This story In the footsteps of suspense master first appeared on The Canberra Times.