Friday, December 14, 2012

Hitchcock inspired part 1: Body Double: Relax go to it, when you wanna DIE

Be it killer birds or psycho killers legendary director Alfred Hitchcock has made some of the best films ever to be put to celluloid and even though hes been dead and gone long ago his style and brilliance is still inspiring filmmakers to this day.

Hitchcock Inspired Part 1: By Michael Vaughn

Title: Body Double

Year: 1984

Director: Brian De Palma

To film buffs its no secret that Palma is largely inspired by Hitchcock and his "body" of work. Body Double and Dressed to Kill are his two most obvious love letters to master of the modern thriller. While I love  "Dressed to Kill" I believe this is the better film of the two, and sadly this is the one that's talked about the least.

The film follows Jack a down on his luck actor with a severe cause of claustrophobia. He comes home one day to find his wife is cheating on him and finds himself looking for a place to stay. Just when things seem like there the worst a old friend of his offers him a swank apt. with cable tv fully stocked bar and a hot tub. To top it all off, as an added bonus the view is to die for. With the aide of a trusty telescope Jack has a nightly show from a busty beauty that lives next door.  Things are really looking up for Jack. Almost right away Jack becomes obsessed with her and they soon meet in a fiery passion.  One night Jack witness`s a man break into her home and savagely attack her, and try as he did to stop it she died. Yet things are not as they seem and our hero soon finds himself en-boiled in a world of porn and mystery.

Hollywood and the falseness of it is perfectly summed up in the opening credits as the camera pans around a cemetery.  As the title even suggests "double" as in not the original- a fake. This theme will be echoed through out the film and ultimately foreshadows the heart pounding climax.

What makes this film stand out from the other Hitch inspired movies is the lengths De Palma goes to not only
make reference to his films but to almost make his own loose remake as it were. Actually coping some scenes shot for shot from Rear Window and Vertigo. Though it is given a modern twist it seems like it could have easily been a film done a few decades earlier. It has a timeless old Hollywood feel which is no accident. Even the look and the film is nailed down perfectly with fake looking back drops and mat shots all scored in a great theatrical manner. There is some very effective breaking of the forth wall that is both clever and humorous.

A great example of the Hitchcock style. Note all the mat job, very classic Hollywood. 

The acting is also done in a very Hitchcock style of at times very subtle wordless acting, a perfect example is when Jack catches his wife in bed with another man the scene plays silent only facial expressions doing the talking. Had it been any other director this would have been a big theatrical scene with yelling and throwing things. Yet Brian does allow himself to get carried away with very over the top old school Hollywood style scenes like the passionate scene between Jack and Gloria.

Sexual obsession is a driving force behind alot of Hitchcocks films and Body Double is teeming with it. My personal favorite scene is the Frankie Goes to Hollywood porno shot sequence. Its a great eighties song and a slick edited choreographed scene.

Our hapless hero of the film Jack is played by Craig Wasson. What Wasson does is play the duel roles of Jake the nice down on his luck actor and Jack the sleazy porn producer. The film hinges on his performance and he delivers. Gregg Henry plays the friend of Jack and also does a equally outstanding job and has a even more complex role then Craig.

Cast as the Hitchcock blonde is the stunning Melanie Griffith who gives a wonderful performance as Holly, the adult actress  There is not doubt that she steals the show and ranks up there with the hottest sex kittens of the nineteen eighties.

This film will really keep you guessing and just when you think you have it figured it out another twist is thrown at the audience. De Palma keeps you right where he wants you, and takes you along this dark road of sleaze sexual desire murder and mystery. I`m sure if Hitch was alive to see this film he would have been damn proud of this homage that is faithful to his films in ever respect yet with a eighties bite... Film lovers will not be disappointed in this taunt psycho sexual thriller.

Things to look for: A pre-Re-Animator Barbra Crampton makes a small cameo as the cheating wife.

Horror fans will recall Craig Wasson from Nightmare on Elm st. part 3. A fan favorite.

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