Retro Cinema: Body Double

This week's '80s review brings us Brian De Palma's near masterpiece, Body Double. 

Would you mind taking
that off, please?

Body Double, a defining picture of the '80s that helped spark the trend of late night erotica and adult viewing on cable channels like Cinemax. As a hot blooded piece of mysterious and tonally relevant cinema, Body Double still continues to charm and confuse.

The era of cocaine, neon, excess, and decadence gave us Mr. De Palma's sly wink at Hitchcock's Rear Window and Vertigo packaged in a satirical yet mysterious offering of pseudo film noir. Resting on an excellent script written by De Palma himself and a well rounded cast of '80s key players, Body Double slithers through numerous genres while delivering a strangely familiar motion picture that toys with the notion of Hollywood's failings and proclivities. With graphic scenes of eroticism and unhinged sexuality, Body Double is a picture perfect specimen of mid-80s gluttony served on a cinematic platter of style and substance. Through beautiful looking era specific visuals and music, De Palma recreates the aura of Hitchcock as he modernizes timeless themes in an amplified innuendo laden motion picture. 

With a cast of '80s standout actors including a young Melanie Griffith, the nearly unhinged Craig Wasson, and power play character actor Gregg Henry, Body Double is a retrofitted time capsule back to the days of great pop sensibilities and VHS porno. As Melanie Griffith serves up a hot dose of a slutty but endearing damsel in distress, Wasson does what he always does best. He plays to the camera with an innocent charm, always using his standard "every man" look to full effect. Gregg Henry (like usual) plays the questionable good buddy that just might have alternative intentions. Backing them all up with one of the most seductive roles to hit '80s cinema is the always sexy Deborah Shelton playing central character Gloria Revelle. 

Eh, take a picture.
It'll last longer. 

Body Double is in no way a perfect film. Some plot holes definitely hurt the conclusion. And some of the Hitchcock tribute moments are way too apparent. Yet, (in usual fashion) De Palma does an excellent job switching it up by changing genres. Never a director to stick to just one thing or a single style, he came right off his Scarface feature and delivers a film that looks inside another perspective of the Reagan era by totally shifting directions. Instead of drug deals, chainsawed friends and bad fake accents, Body Double gives us Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a totally uninhibited Griffith, a bloodthirsty Indian with a drill, lots of nudity, and the best role of Wasson's career. It's really too bad he bowed out of Hollywood. It would be great to see him make a comeback. 

If you're a fan of retro cinema, this is definitely one to check out. Long before his Mission To Mars, Femme Fatale, Snake Eyes, and The Black Dahlia, De Palma was a gifted director with a penchant for drawing powerful performances from his leads. 

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