This is Brian De Palma week. Body Double is currently available on instant Netflix.
PASS: Body Double (1984) – Rated R
“In a nasty double-whammy, struggling actor Jake Sculley (Craig Wasson) loses his girlfriend and then witnesses a brutal murder in a neighbor’s apartment. When a young porn actress (Melanie Griffith) befriends Jack, the two join forces to find the killer. Feeding his seemingly unquenchable appetite for gore and violence, Brian De Palma directed this Hitchcock-inspired thriller, which earned Griffith a Golden Globe nomination.”
I remember really enjoying this film when it came out. It is very stylish (as all of De Palma’s films are). The use of odd camera angles, the mastery of widescreen real estate, and the lesser underlying theme of police suspicion all point to De Palma being Hitchcock’s successor.
Watching this film now the setup is just unbelievably stupid as is the main character Jake. The rather obvious villain’s plot hinges on coincidence as well as Jake being essentially clueless.
De Palma wanted to make three films here – a Hitchcockian thriller, a comedy poking fun at the film business, and a story about the adult film industry. Unfortunately he didn’t invest enough in any of them to make them work feature length.
The scene where Jake acts in a porn film is very well staged. There is a marvelous moment where a mirror is closed and you can see the camera crew at work. The whole scene is set to the tune of “Relax”. There is another scene that is marvelously played out over the end credits as well.
I can’t recommend this because of the large gaps in logic. If you are willing to overlook those, this can be a very entertaining film but not one of De Palma’s best.
People Watch: Brian De Palma originally cast 70s/80s porn queen Annette Haven as the female lead, Holly. He had also planned to include unsimulated sex scenes. Naturally Hollywood said ‘No way!’ Annette Haven was a consultant on the film and imdb lists her as an uncredited actress though I couldn’t spot her. The ‘don’ts’ speech Holly gives is based on Annette Haven as well.