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Body Double Review

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Jake Scully, an actor who suffers from claustrophobia, house-sits in an incredible apartment as a favour to a friend. From this vantage point, he spies on a sexy neighbour, then witnesses her being gruesomely drill-murdered by a Red Indian hit man. Traumatised, he begins to think he's been set up, and has to impersonate a porn actor to get close to hardcore queen Holly Body who might have an answer to the mystery.

★★★★★

A typical Brian De Palma effort from the 1980s, borrowing ideas from Hitchcock even as it goes all-out for the kind of effects only DePalma would even consider.

Undigested chunks of the plots of Vertigo and Rear Window are stirred into a defiantly downbeat, grim and perverse storyline in which objectionable characters slaughter each other, and even the hero is branded as a panty‑sniffing loon by the cops.

DePalma does everything to excess, with long tracking shots that tend to pay off sexually: prowling like a stalker as Shelton shops for underwear, wandering into a labyrinthine apartment as Jake finds his girlfriend screwing another guy or marching onto a porn movie set to the tune of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s much-banned Relax. A pre-chubby Melanie Griffith is wonderfully slutty-mysterious as the bleached blonde star of Holly Does Hollywood (the name ‘Holly Body’ was later taken up by a real pornstar) who has been employed as part of a sinister scam.

Once you get past the deliberately ridiculous story, it's a fine example of the director's lush overkill style from the days before his ‘Hollywood hired gun’ hackwork and offers a redeeming thread of silly sick humour. The Nicolas Cage movie Vampire’s Kiss takes its title from the punk exploitation film, directed by a bullying Dennis Franz, which Craig Wasson is supposed to be starring in here.

Once you get past the ridiculous story this is a fine example of De Palma's lush overkill style and certainly has a redeeming thread of silly sick humour.

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