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Dressed to Kill
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 19, 2011
It's very exciting to see DRESSED TO KILL on blu ray and for all fans the question when a blu ray of an older film already owned on dvd comes to blu ray is - how does it look? Is it worth it to double or even triple dip? The answer here is a resounding YES - the film looks and sounds great on blu ray and is a must have. There has always been much controversy over how good a film DRESSED TO KILL is and as to how original director Brian De Palma actually is. Many critics considered this a Hitchcock rip-off and others thought De Palma used his same standard directiorial mechanics here to results similar to his other films. I myself love this film and like to think any Hitchcockian comparisons are actually done in a respectful bow to Hitchcock. And though I did find some scenes similar to those in De Palma's CARRIE, this film stands on its own as an excellent scary and suspenseful film with a very original story line. We know De Palma loves his shower scenes here and the shots with Angie Dickinson (and the body double for close ups) are legendary.

But what about the bu ray. This is a film from 1980 and overall the video presentation here is superb. Though the picture isn't always fully sharp the clarity is excellent. Close ups are crystal clear with flesh tones very realistic. Colors are vivid and pop. The black/white ratio is overall excellent. Sometimes blacks come across a little shadowy but this most likely has to do with the original film source. There is some graininess but it is again part of the intentional viewing experince. With the blu ray you get an overall clear, exciting and vivid picture with clarity that pulls you in. And the audio is amazing. The DTS HD Master 5.1 track provided has dialogue strong throughout with all the surround speakers used to full effect. In the shower scenes you will hear water from all your speakers. Background noise and the ever effective musical score that highlight this film come out strong and sure from all speakers as well. This film is one that will scare you. From the click of Angie Dickinson's shoes as she walks thru the museum to the swipe of the blade the sounds are all strong and realistic. And the true scare moments - just let me say the excellent audio here will have you jumping out of your skin.

Debates aside this film is excellent and definitely a standout thriller from the 80s. The plot is also above your regular thriller. From the opening shower scene with Angie to the film end every scene has a purpose in the plot. This is an adult thriller and I highly recommend the superb blu ray transfer. It will be like watching the film for the first time.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2001
DRESSED TO KILL

(USA - 1980)

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono

Brian De Palma's superb thriller borrows the plot structure of PSYCHO (1960) to tell a completely original story in a manner which Hitchcock would surely have admired. The 'Pure Cinema' approach deployed here also evokes the best work of Dario Argento, though De Palma clearly has his own agenda. His script attends the fall-out from a terrifying attack on a frustrated housewife (Angie Dickinson) by a razor-wielding maniac who then turns his/her attentions to the sole witness, a streetwise hooker (Nancy Allen) who teams up with Dickinson's teenage son (Keith Gordon) when she becomes a suspect in the case.

A masterful example of visual storytelling, DRESSED TO KILL employs constantly roving camerawork to propel complex characters through a series of bravura set-pieces (the museum, the elevator, the subway, etc.), filmed in breathtaking Panavision by the late cinematographer Ralf Bode. At a time when most current scope movies are designed primarily for TV - which rather defeats the whole purpose of scope photography! - it's a revelation to see the entire width of the 2.39:1 frame being used to define characters and advance the plot through an accumulation of visual tricks and counterpoints. Pino Donaggio's memorable score provides an often thunderous accompaniment to the on-screen horrors, and it's refreshing to find a grown-up cast (including a restrained Michael Caine) making the most of a scenario which addresses mature themes in an intelligent manner. This intense thriller refuses to sacrifice integrity for the sake of cheap shocks, but it still manages to scale the dizzying heights of genuine horror.

De Palma and the film's principal contributors charted the film's production in a number of documentary extras included on the original US DVD edition, and while some of their comments may have seemed a little too self-congratulatory at the time, they also provided fascinating insights into De Palma's working methods and the motivation behind some of the devices employed by the director to tell his story. In a special section detailing his collision with the MPAA, De Palma wearily defends the film from charges of misogyny and explicit violence, and his views are supported by the likes of Angie Dickinson, amongst others. Besides, anyone who thinks THIS is misogynist obviously hasn't seen the likes of THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982), RED TO KILL (1994), or some of the more squalid dregs from the Japanese sex-and-torture subgenre. Now THERE'S misogyny for you!!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Watching a really good thriller is like enjoying a feast after a day long fast. Absolute Satisfaction !!! This movie embodies all the elements of a great thriller ... * A taut script * Well Developed Characters * Hard hitting acting. The story begins with Angie Dickinson, a bored housewife largely unsatisfied with her husband who yearns for more. On one of her visits to the museum she befriends a strange man and has an affair with him. She enjoys her time spent with the stranger realising how much she was missing when she is with her husband and on one such occassion while returning home she is brutally murdered in an elevator. A young lady (Nancy Allen) catches a glimpse of the murderer and she initially becomes a suspect and later a prime witness. Giving away any more of the story would be a crime as the several twists and turns this movie takes are what make it so engrossing. A tad slow moving at times the movie picks up the pace almost immediately before the viewer realises with some finely nuanced performances by Michael Caine,Angie Dickinson,Nancy Allen and Dennis Franz among others. The suspense is maintained throughout the film and makes you want to watch it again and again. This movie is an absolute must for a collector and I hope the Special Edition does some justice to this fine movie. Also recommend watching the following ... * The Usual Suspects * Out of Sight * The Rear Window.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2000
Brian De Palma is a director praised for his visual style and originality. Unfortunately, his style rarely has had the chance to mix with a great script (the major exception is The Untouchables). He's been on a slump recently, as he just came out with the critically drubbed Mission to Mars and the absolutely atrocious Snake Eyes. Though if one wants to see exactly how fine a director he is, you should check out his films in the 80's, which was definitely the time of his heyday. De Palma is particlarly good at crafting suspense, as I noticed when I watched Body Double, his last erotic thriller. That was a seriously underrated film and it made me want to watch some more of his suspense/thrillers. Dressed to Kill seem to have the most resemblance to Body Double so I chose to watch that film. Now, I didn't think Dressed to Kill could possibly match Body Double's suspense but to my surprise, Dressed to Kill is just as great a film, as it's suspense is, to some regard, even more unnerving.
The film begins surrealistically as we see a woman taking a shower. She runs her hands over body sensuously and the expression on her face is obviously one of pleasure. The score that runs in the background at the time is a pleasant one, but this sensuous bubble is burst when a man steps behind this woman, grabs her, and begins to rape her in the shower, and the scene makes a sudden change as we see a man having sex with the same woman on a bed. We find out the woman's name is Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) and that she has marital troubles. She sees a psychiatrist named Dr. Elliott (Michael Caine) about these problems. In a session early in the film, she tells him that she no longer enjoys sex with her husband. Afterward, she goes to an art museum where she meets a man she feels attracted to. In true De Palma fashion, the camera pans around the entire museum as we see Kate playing a game of cat-and-mouse with this man. When Kate believes she's lost him, the man appears in a taxi, and Kate enters inside, to which they then have a sexual tryst inside. Later, she awakens inside his apartment, apparently having the spent the whole afternoon with this stranger. As she is putting her clothing back on (the stranger is asleep) she finds a health report inside a drawer stating that he has contracted a venereal disease. Shocked and scared, Kate leaves the apartment and heads for the elevator. In what is one of the film's most suspenseful and shocking sequences, Kate realizes she has left her wedding ring in the apartment and heads up through the elevator again. As the door opens, a blonde woman with a razor creeps in and slashes her to death. It's a shocking scene as the audience begins to believe that Kate is the film's protagonist, until she is killed just a half hour into the film. Her murder is witnessed by a prostitute named Liz Blake (Nancy Allen) and her life is now in obvious danger from this blonde woman known only as Bobbi. With the help of Kate's brilliant son Peter (Keith Gordon), Liz attempts to find the killer and her identity.
After a slow first 25 minutes, Dressed to Kill is filled with unbearable suspense for the next 75 minutes. The last 3 minutes of the film are particularly nerve wracking. There are so many great suspense sequences that work throughout the entire film, all the way from the elevator scene to a chase into the subway. Those scenes should give any viewer a good scare. It's certainly what one would describe as edge-of-your seat suspense. I know those sequences freaked me out, and those last few minutes in the film is a true heart-pounding nerve jangler. This is what De Palma is good at and he should make more films like this.
The film's acting is also quite good. The film's main protagonists, played by Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon, are likeable characters and there's a certain romantic tension that develops between them. The chemistry between both characters works well. Michael Caine also delivers a good performance as the psychiatrist who begins to suspece a patient of his as the murderer. Fun to watch is an early role for Dennis Franz as the detective on the case. Angie Dickinson, though only in the film for a short time, develops her character into a sympathetic one, despite her adulterous behavior.
From the plot description above, it may seem like the film has a lot of nudity, and in truth, there is. But it never gets too explicit and it's place in the film is appropriate and it works well. Is this an erotic thriller? Well, it is somewhat like one but it doesn't really rely on a lot of sex to maintain the viewer's attention (there's really only one sex scene in the movie) such as a movie like Basic Instinct. Instead, the film is more of a psychological thriller, as it relies more on suggestion than explicit detail to scare the viewer.
Is Dressed to Kill De Palma's best suspense/thriller? Well, it's at the very least as good as Body Double. Both films have certain similarities and similar tones. There are certain aspects that work better in one film than another. For one example, the sex and nudity in Body Double does get a little gratuitous and sleazy in the second half (There's even nudity in the closing credits) while it never gets that way in Dressed to Kill. Body Double has a more ominous and creepy musical score and a very interesting protagonist (that's not to say the protagonists of Dressed to Kill aren't interesting because they are). Double's plot twists are also extremely unpredictable while one of Dressed to Kill's twists becomes obvious at least half way through the film (though I didn't think that hurt the movie). But it's really not fair to compare those two. They're separate films and should be considered on what each has to offer.
I would very much highly recommend you watch both movies, definitely late at night and with no more than one other person.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
First,about the blu ray. It has an improved picture. Noticeable, especially at the end of the museum scene where there used to be a glitch on the negative on the 2001 dvd. It was filmed in 2:35 widescreen aspect ratio so there will be black bars on your t.v. The DTS sound is great you can hear the music better. It was smart of them to keep the special features from the 2001 dvd. They were well done. Wish the same had been done for the blu ray of "Carrie"('76). I am very pleased with this blu ray and certainly hope they use the special features from the special edition dvd's of "The Fog"('80), "The Howling"('81), and eventually "Carrie"('76).
This original thriller has Hitchcockian touches, but is its own film. Very artistically done with excellent camera work, such as the framing of the shots, use of split screen and split diopter for scenes. Great costumes by Ann Roth and a fine score by Pino Donaggio. It was modern for its time and still is in a lot of ways as far as the look of the film and its complicated adult themes.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2011
1980 was a very good year for some groundbreaking films in different genres that completely reshaped and redefined the genre they represented, ranging from Stanley Kubrick's haunting psychological ghost story horror film "The Shining" to Brian De Palma's erotic psychological mystery thriller "Dressed To Kill".

Written & directed by De Palma, this chiller did for elevators what Hitchcock's "Psycho" did for showers two generations before it, and still has people squeamish of elevators; and for good reason. This is a darkly satiric film about voyeurism, paranoia, erotica, sexual perversion, sexual deviancy, sexual identity, psychological fear, sexual escapades, and murder, which tells a story of a sexually frustrated housewife who is only trying to find sexual satisfaction and has a one night stand, then gets sliced the f**k up in an elevator by a transsexual with a sexual identity crisis, starring Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Michael Caine, and Dennis Franz.

The film starts with, not one, but two back-to-back erotic sex scenes, the first as the film opens and Kate Miller (Dickinson) is in the shower, soaping herself in a very erotic way as her husband is shaving right outside the shower curtain, when a strange man appears and proceeds to rape her from behind, only for her to awaken in bed while having sex with her husband. De Palma bookends the film with dream sequences, beginning the film with Angie Dickinson, and the last one with Nancy Allen's character Liz Blake, in the shower, and they're both very erotic yet suspenseful scenes in one sense or another.

Produced by De Palma's friend, George Litto, who had produced "Obsession", and "Blow Out" after this one, this is an excursion into psychological erotic madness that is as grotesque, gory, twisted, perverted, demented, deranged, horrifying, spellbinding, sensual, elegant, thrilling, bloody, and scary as anything anyone that likes this genre of film would ever want in a film. De Palma uses pretty much all of his trademark techniques here, split-screen, split dioptor, great tracking shots, crane shots, etc, to tell an awesome story that excels in some of the best scenes of visual storytelling ever committed to film.

This is the film that got women's groups calling De Palma 'mysoginistic', saying he was too violent towards women in his films all because he filmed one woman (maybe two???) getting murdered in a very classy manner, yet there were all of these cheesy slasher flicks having women running around as naked as the day they were born, making them act like airhead bimbo's, getting cut all up like spaghetti, but that seemed to be OK; but they wanted to pick on De Palma for this classic masterpiece??? HUH??? REALLY???

This was also the first film that De Palma had to duke it out with the MPAA over ratings (they wanted to give it an X), so he cut it into an R-rated version (which I, personally prefer), but the DVD features both, the R and the Unrated (X) versions of the film. And, this is loaded with a lot of great special bonus features!

HIGHLY recommended! Two Thumbs And A Big Toe!!
Thank you! :>)

PS: A bit of film trivia: De Palma used a 'body double' for Angie Dickinson's nude shower scene, which in turn inspired his 1984 classic "Body Double", which was his cinematic 'answer' to critics who wanted to bash him, reproaching his decision for using a body double in this film.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A sexually frustrated housewife (Dickenson) takes a trip to the local museum, where she is seduced into a romp with a stranger who purposely leaves behind one of his gloves. After awaking in his apartment she is brutally slashed to death in the elevator. Now it's up to the only witness--a high-paid hooker (Allen)--the victim's therapist (Caine, in a duo role) and Dickenson's computer junkie son to discover what this deranged, razor-weilding, wig-adorning, cross-dressing psychopath is truly after.

Sounds corny, but DePalma has an expertise with such stories, as with "Sisters" or "Obsession." The acting quality is debatably well, especially on Dickenson's part, but the thrill-ride of screams and gore is sure to keep the viewer interested untill the last wrenching scene.

Pino Donnagio's score suits the film fantastically, and one wonders why DePalma was his only employer. The museum sequence is a perfect example of how music and camera use can speak for the story.

The films of Brian DePalma have often been critiqued as Hitchcock rip-offs, except for taking the shock elements a leap further. Well, the camerawork is certainly Hitchcockian, as is the scoring--but to say that it's a rip-off, is a lie. With all due respect, it takes a certain taste to appreciate a DePalma film, and many critics do not have it.

The elevator scene--the uncut version you CAN see on the Specian Edition DVD--is pure cinematic genius. And if the techniques used in the Museum chase don't remind you of Vertigo, I don't know what will.

This film is DePalma at the top of his game, and is a MUST see for DePalma and Hitchcock fanatics alike.

Saw it, loved it, had a fit, Bought it,

--GIGI
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2011
This is one of my favorite De Palma films, next to Blow Out. I absolutely adore his early work (Sisters, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double), I don't think his thrillers have been matched in style and tension. This is an extremely solid film for it's genre and time. I feel it holds up well. Brief Synopsis to avoid spoilers: A psychiatrist has women patients being stalked and attacked. The son of one of the victims goes into his own investigation to find out who the killer is as well. I know this description is arbitrary...but for other De Palma fans who've seen this, the fun is discovering this film as blindly as possible. Pino Donnagio's music, De Palma's cinematography (the museum scenes anyone?), and his pacing is absolutely seemless and beautiful. It's hard to deny this is an inspired homage to Hitchcock's films, in a great way though.

My gripe with this release? Shame on MGM for releasing such a sub par disc on this beautiful film. The transfer is an improvement, some what. The sound, not so much. There isn't even a menu and the special features are the same features you can see from the DVD release of 2001. Why bother? Understandably...they went all out on the new Scarface release, but why not show the same appreciation and effort to introduce this film to a completely different audience? MGM shouldve sold the rights to Criterion Collection. Criterion wouldve treated this film the way it truly shouldve been. Watch this film! Enjoy...just be aware...it's the lesser of two evils buying this ridiculous excuse for a release. You can buy this at a normal price...or spend an arm and a leg from some turd that knows the DVD is out of print, and is milking it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2001
Love it or hate it Brian DePalma's DRESSED TO KILL has proven to be one of the first classics of the modern suspense genre, the sexual thriller. Although it owes much to Hitchcock's PSYCHO, DRESSED TO KILL turns up the volume for the modern audience, taking an unflinching view of murder and perversion that many film goers simply were not prepared for at the time.
Released in 1980, D2K, shocked just about everyone who saw it. The stylized direction and brilliant editing made it one of the most effective thrillers to come out of Hollywood ever. The first murder in the film was so horrific it earned the film an X-rating and gave director DePalma an undeserved reputation as a misogynistic exploitation film maker. There were actual protests in the streets over the film.
Viewers of this new DVD version are treated not only to a beautifully mastered release of the film, but enough background information (in the form of behind the scenes documentaries, with interviews of all the key creators) that one can truly appreciate D2K as the ground braking classic it is. There's even a shot by shot comparison of the X-rated version vs the R-rated.
If you've never seen the film, you must and judge for yourself. If it's an old favorite the DVD will really give you something to sink your teeth into. While many DVD extras turn out to be little more than filler the extras here fully compliment the movie and taken as a whole The Dressed To Kill Special Edition actually is special.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2007
I'll never forget my first viewing of this, many years ago. The notorious 'elevator scene' with Angie Dickinson in her stunning winter white suit...let's just the suit doesn't stay 'white' for long. There are some terrific DVD extras here, featurettes, trailers, marketing images for fans of the film and dePalma. As far as the film, it's a great piece of work, classic dePalma. The camera work in the extended museum scene in the front part of the film is outstanding. The weak link: Nancy Allen's one note performance, made all the more ridiculous by the idea that she was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role!
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