Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
Dressed to Kill(1980)
After wife and mother Kate Miller discusses her sexual frustrations with her psychiatrist, she goes to meet her husband at a museum. At the museum, she meets a strange man who she follows to a cab and then has sex with him at his apartment. After the affair, Kate is brutally murdered in the elevator by a blonde woman with a razor. A blonde prostitute named Liz caught a brief glimpse of the killer, but when she comes forward with this information, she becomes the prime suspect to the police and the next victim to the murderer and Liz teams up with Kate's son to find the real killer.
For more about Dressed to Kill and the Dressed to Kill Blu-ray release, see Dressed to Kill Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 2, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz, David Margulies
Director: Brian De Palma
» See full cast & crew
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray Review
De Palma does Psycho by way of Dario Argento.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 2, 2011
September 6th is quite a week for Brian De Palma fans. Of course, there's the biggie—the highly anticipated Blu-ray debut of Scarface, which should please cinephiles, wannabe rappers, and coke dealers everywhere—but perhaps more exciting for a select group of film lovers is the release of De Palma's 1980 thriller Dressed to Kill, an erotically-charged minor masterpiece that courted several controversies when it was first show in theaters, from its use of full-frontal female nudity and graphic violence to the ire it raised in feminist and transgendered communities, who saw the film as promoting negative stereotypes. The charges of misogyny and transphobia aren't exactly unfounded—the movie features one of the most deranged transsexual characters to ever appear on screen—but it should be clear that De Palma isn't being entirely serious. Dressed to Kill is a suspenseful (and sometimes surprisingly funny) nightmare of sexual sublimation gone awry, and it forgoes realism in favor of a baroque and slightly camp grand guignol quality, complete with gleaming razor blades, black-lace lingerie, and blood-spattered walls. It's as if De Palma channeled Dario Argento to remake Psycho as a hot and lurid giallo.
Few would argue that De Palma is an "original" filmmaker, but you can't say he doesn't crib from the best. Here, as in his previous films Sisters and Obsession, he's in full-on Hitchcock mode, serving up voyeuristic cinematography and more sudden twists than a particularly jarring rollercoaster. Take the opening scene, in which De Palma's camera drifts around a corner to reveal middle-aged housewife Kate (Angie Dickinson) implicitly pleasuring herself in the shower while staring at a man shaving in the bathroom mirror. Out of the steam, another man appears in the shower with her, covering her mouth with one hand and violently pawing at her crotch with the other. (In a pubic close-up, no less. Here's where the MPAA pitched a fit.) We cut suddenly from this implied rape and realize that it was just a fantasy Kate was mentally occupying herself with while having joyless sex with her bad-in-the-sack husband, whose lovemaking technique appears limited to rutting breathlessly like a hog.
The situation is clear; Kate is frustrated and unfulfilled, and she later reveals as much while trying to seduce her psychologist, Dr. Elliot (Michael Caine), who admits an attraction to her but denies the temptation on ethical grounds. Bored and horny, Kate goes to the Metropolitan Museum, where she attracts the interest of a skeevy pick-up artist. In a bravura sequence that's free of dialogue and nearly ten minutes long—and which borrows heavily from Vertigo—De Palma stages an elaborate cat-and-mouse routine through the museum's labyrinthine corridors, with Kate initially avoiding the man, but then trying desperately to track him down for some anonymous afternoon delight.
She gets some, all right, but that's not all she gets. (Mild-but-necessary spoilers ahead, so tread lightly or skip to the next paragraph.) Later, when Kate sneaks out of the man's apartment in the middle of the night, she's accosted and cut down in the elevator by a blond woman wearing sunglasses and wielding a straight-razor, a brutal and terrifying scene. The sole witness to the crime is high-class "Park Avenue whore" Liz Blake (Nancy Allen), who becomes the primary suspect of the cops—led by a pre-NYPD Blue Dennis Franz—and, to clear her name, starts her own investigation with help from Kate's computer-whiz teenaged son, Peter (Keith Gordon), a Harry Potter look-a-like whose main contribution to the plot is building a sweet time-lapse Super-8 rig that he uses to gather intel on the patients who come and go from Dr. Elliot's office. Meanwhile, Dr. Elliot starts to put the pieces together himself, believing that the murder was committed by "Bobbi," an angry ex-patient who left after Elliot wouldn't approve a gender- reassignment surgery.
I'll say no more about the details of the story—there are several additional developments and twists that would be criminal to reveal—but I will say this: a compelling narrative is not the reason to watch Dressed to Kill. Implausibilities and logical gaps abound—how, for instance, would the killer know Kate was going to return to the man's apartment on the seventh floor to retrieve her wedding ring?—and the film's central conceit, which conflates transgenderism and mental illness, is both half-baked and hard to swallow. The acting isn't that great either. Angie Dickinson hams it up in her shower scene, Nancy Allen is okay but not particularly memorable as the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold, and Keith Gordon has about as much screen presence as the computer he's building in his basement. Michael Caine is his usually reliable self, but he seems severely underutilized.
You watch Dressed to Kill because it's the work of a filmmaker who has impeccable control of his craft. Some auteurs like to make their directorial hand as invisible as possible, but not De Palma, who tends to flaunt his methods for generating suspense and emotion. (He gets a lot of flack for being too ostentatious at times, but I think he's an irrefutably great stylist.) The camerawork here is brilliant, using elaborate movements and off-kilter angles, long point-of-view Steadicam sequences and split-diopter shots that keep both the background and foreground of the frame in focus. As showy as this might sound, De Palma's skills are such that these techniques suck you into the world of the movie, rather than take you out of it. (One mark, I'd say, of a good director.) Of course, we can't ignore the other allure of Dressed to Kill—how loveably sleazy it is. The film takes place in the grimy New York of the late 1970s, when Times Square was still the province of seedy, neon-lit porn shops and where boombox- toting thugs wearing turtlenecks under splayed-collared shirts hung around on subway platforms looking goofily intimidating. The nude scenes have a sweetly cheesy upscale soft-core quality, with ogling looks at soap-lathered breasts—Angie Dickinson clearly had a body double—and long takes of Nancy Allen sneaking about Dr. Elliot's office in black stockings and garters. Here, the twin titillations of nudity and gore are more campy than arousing. De Palma is in on the joke and we're grinning along with him.
Do note that this disc contains the unrated, uncut version of the film.
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray, Video Quality
You never know what you're going to get, picture quality-wise, when it comes to catalog titles from the late '70s and early '80s, so I'm happy to report that Dressed to Kill comes dressed in a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's consistently impressive. First of all, the print is in excellent shape— you'll notice very few white specks, and no scratches, hairs, or stains whatsoever—and the film's 35mm grain structure has been kept intact, showing no evidence of overzealous digital noise reduction. (Grain can get a bit heavy during some scenes, but it's never abrasive or harsh.) Edge enhancement isn't a concern either. This isn't the sharpest film you'll ever see from the era, but clarity is greatly improved from prior standard definition releases, and you'll spot fine detail in all the areas where you normally look for it—facial features, clothing textures, etc. Color is nicely reproduced too, with balanced skin tones, rich neutrals, and occasional splashes of vividness, like the bright Crayola-red blood. Black levels sometimes encroach on shadow detail, but rarely oppressively so, and contrast seems to be exactly where it should be. Aside from some slight splotchiness in certain color gradients in the background, I didn't notice any major compression artifacts. Really, I have no complaints.
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I would've settled for a lossless version of the film's original mono mix—I'm usually wary anytime a studio tinkers with mono audio sources in an attempt to reconfigure them for multi-channel output—but MGM has actually delivered a re-engineered DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that surprisingly effective. The rear channels are called upon often to add immersion; you'll hear water pounding and dripping in the shower, New York City traffic sounds, wind and rain during a heavy storm, the screech and groan of subway cars clanking along at full speed, and numerous other ambient effects. There are even some believable pans and crosses. One of my favorite audio moments is when Peter is listening in on a cop's conversation with Dr. Elliot using a bug and an earpiece; the voices—heard through the wall and carried into a tiny earbud—sounds appropriately tinny out of the front speakers, but we also hear full ambient police office noise all around us. It works really well. Pino Donaggio's score sound great too, with rich orchestral sounds that have crisp highs and bass-heavy, clear-timbered lows. Dialogue throughout is clear and easy to understand. The disc comes with a French Dolby Digital mono dub, as well as optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I don't necessarily prefer Dressed to Kill to Scarface —also being release on Blu-ray on the 6th—but I do think it's more fun, loveably sleazy and filled with grand guignol shocks. It's also impressively directed, with some truly inspired camerawork. MGM's Blu-ray looks and sounds much better than I had expected—and comes with all the special features from the DVD—so make sure you pick this one up too when you snag Scarface. Recommended!
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Dressed to Kill. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Dressed to Kill in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Dressed to Kill Blu-ray - June 30, 2011
Fox Home Entertainment and MGM will release Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill on Blu-ray this September. Highly criticized for its graphic sex and violence in 1980, the film follows the suspenseful happenings surrounding a housewife (Angie Dickinson, Rio Bravo), ...
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Dressed to Kill Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Dressed to Kill Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.