Bluray Review – Body Double (1984)


Perhaps not quite the best De Palma movie (I might give the edge to Carlito’s Way), but it is THE Brian De Palma movie. Split diopters, mirror surfaces, garish and distancing set design, intricate camera movements, and sexist depictions that viciously target the heart of mainstream cinema’s inherent misogyny. It’s all part and parcel of De Palma’s technique, and it’s all pushed to the breaking point in this recursive Moebius Strip of exploitation. This is quintessential De Palma. Within the body of his work, it’s as a ribbon tying together a perfect package. Brian says that being a director is being a viewer, and he takes that sentiment to a meaning in Body Double.

My only complaints with the film, it’s that it takes us over sixty minutes of an 115-minute runtime to get to Melanie Griffith‘s fantastic performance as Holly Body. And also that the events of the second half, in general, are too compressed – once Jake figures out how he’s been set up, the story rushes to its conclusion. If everything that happens after the murder was allowed to unfold at the same meticulous pace as everything that happens before, we’d be looking at a five star film.

A withering critique of the misogyny of seemingly nice-guy protagonists as much as the violent villains from whom such men attempt to save women. Vicious stuff.

Indicator, once again, have put together a killer package. The video master, sourced from Sony, is more or less perfection.
Extras are a good assortment of featurettes, including an interview with Craig Wasson, a look at the initial negative reactions to the film and the use of music in the film.

The centrepiece of the features is a brand new 40 minute documentary, Pure Cinema. First assistant director Joe Napolitano recalls his first encounter with Brian De Palma and discusses the director’s working methods, the shooting of various sequences from Body Double, the various locations that were used in the film and some of the unique framing choices that were made. The trailer, isolated score track and a 40 page full colour booklet which includes numerous writings on the film round off the package.

Another definitive release from Indicator. If this and Christine are anything to go by, they could be the best distributor since Arrow Video.

| Peter Fletcher

Thriller | USA, 1984 | 18 | Powerhouse Films | 24th October 2016 (UK) | Dir.Brian DePalma | Melanie Griffith, Craig Wasson, Dennis Franz, Barbara Crampton | Buy:[Dual Format]