Dressed to Kill (UK - BD RB)
Marcus tracks a blonde killer with a surprise in her trousers for this Blu-ray
After sexually frustrated housewife Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) has a her latest session with her psychiatrist Dr Elliott (Michael Caine), she silently seduces a man in an art gallery. The affair ends with Kate's murder and the only witness, high-class prostitute Liz Blake (Nancy Allen) believes she is now being stalked by the killer.
In this Hitchcock inspired DePalma thriller that comes with an erotic twist, we begin with a rather graphic opening masturbation in the shower scene, and a dark turn that begins us on the first in a series of twisted journeys.
The first act could almost be considered a short story in itself really. One that revolves around the fear and after effects of adultery. Things you might have missed that might uncover your secret, how people look at you differently or more scarily, the unknown factors you might discover post fornication. Y'know like sexual transmitted diseases or the less common threat, being switch bladed to death in an elevator. You never know, these things might happen.
After the rather shocking elevator murder, the story shifts to Michael Caine and Nancy Allen and the web they've been caught in because of the attack. There's a side order with the murdered victim's son and his interest in finding his mother's murderer but really the focus about who the killer is falls on Caine and Allen's shoulders. Allen's tale is one of danger and self preservation, Caine's is more intriguing however, as we know he seems to know the killer's identity, or at least has some kind of knowledge of whats occurred but takes his time to co-operate for reasons that feel more than patient/doctor confidentiality.
All in all De Palma's control of the story here shows exactly what a great director can bring to a fairly routine set of events (though arguable the events were not so routine when the film was released in 1980). He squeezes out every single bit of tension from every single little bit of intrigue involving every single little detail about the murderer and he doesn't let the audience out of his grasp right until the end. His actors deliver the goods as well, even though it's more on how they act in silence than the delivery of the pretty obvious dialogue a lot of the time. Dressed to Kill drives right on through until the end credits roll, is both sexy and scary and really makes for a prime example of how a thriller should make you feel, even if you'll probably guess the outcomes before the big reveal comes around.
The video presentation is really only limited by its original 1980 production and De Palmas visual style. Elements are soft, lighting fairly hazy, and there's a thin but noticeable layer of grain but the film was made to look this way to a certain degree, so there's no real escaping it. Colours still manage to reach out of the fairly drab image, skin tones are pink and rosey, blue shirts pop out from behind grey suits and given the right lighting all of the colours can all get a effective HD boost.
Some of the wider city shots can look very soft, especially when we cut to and from the tighter, sharper close up of characters. It's not all a bit washy though. The odd shot is filled with sharper detail. For example, New York streets in early morning lighting can look especially good with their wet roads and green foliage plus there's a few late night city shots with neon lighting that pop quite well. Really the entire affair is a much better image overall than DVD could muster, so really Dressed to Kill is another De Palma thriller handled well for a new Blu-ray home.
The 5.1 track has a fair few well handled layers to it. The opening erotic, soon to turn scary shower scene has multiple waves of water falling, placid soft core score and of course the eventual scream and more dire score erupt when it all goes full on thriller.
Dialogue is clear, central and natural sounding within the track. Sound effects seem well placed and ambiance is subtle but better used in some scenes then others. Throughout, De Palma plays with escalation and his tight edits are strengthened with his great use of music. Footsteps are a big deal and are used effectively and the accompanying almost operatic score building and building always makes the complicated set pieces feel even more intriguing.
'Symphony of Fear' (17:36 HD) talks the producer George Litto and discusses his entire career and his work with Brian De Palma.
'Dressed in White' (29:53 HD) is a lengthy discussion with actress Angie Dickinson. She talks of her initial worries and how De Palma convinced her to do it amongst many other things.
'Dressed in Purple' (23:04 HD) is another good interview with Nancy Allen and she talks of her marriage to Brian De Palma and his writing of 'Dressed to Kill' and beyond.
'Lessons in Filmmaking' (30:45 HD) is a great discussion with actor Keith Gordon and covers what he learnt from De Palma during his work with him.
'The Making of a Thriller' (43:53 HD) starts with De Palma talking of the film's origins and how small ideas grew into Dressed to Kill. It then becomes more of a conventional making of, the like of which DVD thrived on, which is where I'd imagine this making of came from given how old it looks but it makes it no less great an accompanying extra.
'A Film Comparison' (05:14) shows the differences between the Rated and Unrated versions of the films and even has bits of the Network TV edits.
'Slashing Dressed to Kill' (09:49 HD) focuses on the film's controversial cuts and the battles to keep them in the film. The film really does push a few boundaries, especially when it comes to the opening shower scene and this short but interesting featurette gives De Palma's view on it all.
Last up is the original trailer and image gallery.
Dressed to Kill is another great thriller from De Palma. I'd personally never seen the film before and have to admit I was quite shocked by elements of it, even thirty odd years after the film's initial release. Once again Arrow provides a fine collection of extras to accompany the film and the HD presentation, while limited by age is pretty great non the less.
* Note: The images on this page are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 29th July 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, LPCM Duel Mono 2.0 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Interviews, Trailer, Photo Gallery, DVD Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen
Genre: Drama and Thriller
Length: 105 minutes
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