Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma, 1980)
I realize that De Palma is known for his Hitchcock obsession, but I don't think I understood how far it went until seeing this movie, which is practically a remake of Psycho. The plot is different, but it's structured the same way, with the important character played by a big-name actress who gets killed about 40 minutes in, the transsexual killer, even the hokey psychological explanation epilogue. Then the ending uses the same cheap device as Carrie (which is one of my favorite movies, and I think the device is okay in a horror movie, but here it comes off as a cheat). Even though I spent at least half the time marveling at the ways De Palma apes Hithcock, I still thought this was a good movie for the way it successfully creates suspense and for De Palma's typical bravura technical skills. A wordless sequence in a museum near the beginning of the film is incredibly effective for its building of suspense and sexual tension, even though it ultimately has virtually nothing to do with the plot of the movie.
My New Gun (Stacy Cochran, 1992)
The cool thing about Netflix is that any time I am reading some random thing online about some movie that sounds interesting, I can pop over to Netflix and put it in my queue rather than trying to remember days or weeks later to pick it up at the video store. The bad thing about Netflix is that every random movie I read about online and thought sounded sort of interesting eventually shows up at my house, and I watch it, and think, "Why the hell did I want to see this movie?" Case in point: My New Gun, some random '90s indie with Diane Lane and James LeGros and Stephen Collins (aka the dad from 7th Heaven). Not funny enough to be a comedy, not dramatic enough to be a drama, not interesting enough to deserve a place in anyone's Netflix queue. But good lord is Diane Lane beautiful.