Dressed to Kill, Unrated, Blu-ray (1980/2010)

by | Sep 24, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Dressed to Kill, Unrated, Blu-ray (1980/2010)
Director: Brian De Palma
Starring: Michael Caine, Dennis Franz, Nancy Allen, Angie Dickinson
Studio: Fox/MGM [9/6/11]
Music: Pino Donaggio
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS mono
Subtitles: English SHD, Spanish, French
Extras: “The Making of Dressed to Kill” – documentary with De Palma, Dickinson, Allen, Franz & more; Comparison featurette of Unrated, R-rated & TV versions; “Slashing Dressed to Kill” featurette; “An Appreciation by Keith Gordon” featurette; Animated photo gallery, theatrical trailer, more
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: *****
Can’t believe I watched this the same night as Dumbo. Talk about a very adult feature film. I don’t remember seeing quite as much of Angie Dickinson (or her double) in the shower on the version in theaters 30 years ago. De Palma was criticized at the time for copying Alfred Hitchcock’s style, but Hitch would have undoubtedly been much more circumspect than this sexy and bloody thriller.  It’s strange, but it does seem to work, and doesn’t appear that dated today.
Just a brief partial synopsis: Caine plays a Manhattan therapist. A female killer stalks and attacks two women patients, using a straight razor stolen from his office. Dickinson is the forty-something unsatisfied housewife who lives out her sexual fantasy and becomes the first victim. Then the attention changes to a hooker who sees the killing in the elevator, and a crude detective trying to solve the murder. There’s a lot of dread, suspense, paranoia and voyerism here. (Woo-woo Nancy Allen.) Don’t read a giveaway review if you want to experience the complete shameless viewing trip to the end. This was one of the first films to deal with the subject of transsexuals, though not in a manner they would be very pleased with. There is one big slip in dramatic continuity, but if I explain it I’ll give away the ending.
The cinematography is excellent and very creative, and the Blu-ray transfer looks terrific—better than most 1980 films. Even the black areas have some detail and there’s no noticeable artifacts seen. The surround track is also most effective, though I strongly doubt the original film was 5.1 surround. There are also numerous extras well worth looking at.  The comparison of the three different versions of De Palma’s audacious film is especially interesting.
—John Sunier

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