American Psycho debuted at Sundance where it polarised critics. Bale's performance was widely praised, but many found the film to be hollow and self-indulgent. Which is kind of the point.
On release, audiences were similarly divided. Whilst it made a respectable $15 million in the US (against a $7 million budget), it hardly set the box-office alight.
Instead, it gained a cult fandom normally reserved for Monthy Python movies, as evidenced by when a club in New York took its name from Bateman's favourite eatery Dorisa.
After opening, the comments page for the venue on Time Out New York got spammed by users calling themselves Patrick Bateman, Paul Allen and Donald Kimball: “I refuse to give the maître d’ here head”; “I have an 8.30 rez here Friday. Great! Sea Urchin Ceviche”; “That’s a fine chardonnay you’re not drinking”.
There’s even an 18in Bateman action figure – articulated, armed with accessory and a voice chip (“I have some videos to return”). Isn’t it ironic that a novel/movie about the dangers of consumerism should lead to such crass merchandising?
Ellis is unfazed (“Isn’t that just how it had to be?” he chuckles) although he’s slightly disappointed to report that he hasn’t been accosted by too many horror fanboys (“I wish I had, but I haven’t... Horror fanboys are delightful.”)
Harron remains equally bemused by the film’s continuing popularity with old and new audiences alike. “When they re-released it on DVD, it did even better than the first time,” she tells us.
“Young people who weren’t old enough to see it in cinemas really love it. It has this peculiar lifeforce. If I’m in Starbucks and they see my name on my credit card they start quoting me lines from the movie.”
For more thoughts on American Psycho, what happened next and how Ellis' first meeting with Bale scared him to death, check out the next issue of Total Film Magazine (158), on-sale July 30.
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