Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Body Double (1984)

Directed by:
Brian De Palma

De Palma just about hit the mark with DRESSED TO KILL (1980), his contemporary take on PSYCHO, but is less successful with this Hitchcock copy that borrows wholesale from both REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO. Craig Wasson (from GHOST STORY and ELM STREET 3) stars as claustrophobic struggling actor Jake Scully, who's fired from a vampire film, catches his wife (Barbara Crampton, making her horror film debut) cheating on him and ends up house-sitting for a suspiciously "friendly" guy he barely even knows (played by Gregg Henry). While there, he uses a telescope to spy on his beautiful dark-haired/blue-eyed neighbor (lovely former Miss Universe Deborah Shelton), who performs nightly erotic dances in front of her window. She ends up getting power-drilled by a creepy Indian handyman, and Jake ends up in the middle of a complex murder plot... which also gets him involved in the adult film underworld! The plotting stretches credibility to the limit, Wasson's idiotic, gullible character elicits little sympathy (though the actor himself is likable and sincere enough in the role) and the ending is terrible, but some of the porn scenes are well done (and funny!) and Melanie Griffith (who I normally can't stand) is great as Holly Body, a porn actress unknowingly tied in to the murder. Definitely a relic of the 1980s, this has an enjoyably dated New Wave aesthetic at times, is lushly photographed and has a great Pino Donaggio score. One whole scene is a music video for "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. So regardless of the plotting issues here and a few missteps, I still found this one pretty entertaining and fun to watch.

Dennis Franz has a fun supporting role as a pushy horror film director, Scream Queen Brinke Stevens can be spotted briefly in both clips from "Holly Does Hollywood" and during the music video segment and real-life porn stars Annette Haven, Linda Shaw and the late Susanna Britton (as Barbara Peckinpaugh) are supposed to be in here, too. Also in the cast are Guy Boyd, David Haskell, Ty Randolph (as "Mindi Miller") and Alexandra Day (from the hilariously awful BOARDING HOUSE).


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