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Click above to purchase "Dressed To Kill: Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Dressed To Kill
Special Edition

review by Zach B.

 

Unrated/Rated R

Studio: MGM

Running Time: 105 minutes

Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz

Written and Directed by Brian De Palma

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Unrated Version, "The Making Of 'Dressed To Kill'" Documentary, Slashing "Dressed To Kill" Featurette, An Appreciation by Keith Gordon Featurette, "Unrated," "R Rated" and "TV Rated" Comparison, Animated Photo Gallery, Advertising Gallery, Theatrical Trailer, Collectible Booklet

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, English Mono, French Mono, English Closed Captions, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selections (16 Scenes)

"Dressed To Kill," Brian DePalma's thriller that he wrote and directed, is an eerie but always interesting thriller that still holds up after well over twenty years. The film follows psychologist Dr. Robert Elliot (Michael Caine), who soon faces himself in absolute terror when two women he knows well are attacked with a razor that was stolen from his office. In true fashion, things get scarier and creepier, as Elliot races to find the murderer. While he is dumbfounded by the ordeal, the police seem to be no help to him as he must come in contact from a witness and a son before more people are killed. With sexual backdrops, unique characters and some intense moments, "Dressed To Kill," in my opinion, is one of Brian De Palma's finest achievments.

DePalma really does a good job with the film. As usual, he sets up some incredible camera shots and gives the film a good flow. The shots and editing style are unique, every angle and every little detail counts here. It draws the viewer in and really gets us to see what DePalma wants us to see, so we can be intrigued and draw our conclusions from what is given to us. The musical score also really helps that. His script on the other hand, is pretty thrilling. He has a good premise here, and as I mentioned, nicely developed characters and good lines within it (that can be rather seldom). He makes it an enjoyable thriller that really keeps us wanting more and more. I found myself wanting to know what came next. However, there are a lot of quiet moments in the movie, where character actions and his shots are what tells the story. His pans and tilts go well here, and he really breathes life into what may appear to some as a standard thriller.

The acting here is also pretty good. Michael Caine, with his distinguished voice and mannerisms, does nails the role here as he is caught in a traingle of sorts, and his intensity and madness continues to rise. Nancy Allen and Angie Dickinson as the female leads who play very crucial roles in the film, do superb jobs. Supporting cast members are also very fine.

If you haven't seen "Dressed To Kill" and like thrillers or De Palma's work, I say it's worth checking out. It's an entertaining movie, but some may get frusturated by the lack of dialogue and De Palma's general style of telling so much with the camera. Still, I applaud the technicallity of this film, let alone the thrills and storytelling done here in such a unique style. Nicely done, and as said, one of De Palma's creepier and bolder efforts that film fans should see. There's really a Hitchcock-homage sense in this one (like a good deal of De Palma's work).

The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is nothing great. Grain, fuzziness, shimmering, nicks, scratches, blemishes, pieces of dirt and all sorts of distractions that plague the transfer. Combine all of these and this makes for a less than flattering image, let alone distracting and dirty. Yes, the movie can be gritty, but not in this sense where a visual presentation to this extent can justify it. Detail is rather decent, while colors and flesh tones seem to be a bit toned down and could have used more flourishing. Disappointing as I wish MGM cleaned this one up more as this movie has some great shots to view.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround remix in English is nothing shattering. You really don't feel the constant tension in this movie. Fidelity and range is rather low (I had to turn my speakers up to hear a lot of the smaller but more effective noises) and surround use is not so dynamic. Yes the footsteps and the wind blowing due try to add to the sense, but it's all limited here. .1 LFE is decent, and the Pino Donaggio score is probably the best surround use on this track. Even the killings aren't too great. They're good, but it won't give you a "shock." Dialogue is easy to hear and sounds good too. There's also French and English mono tracks, each for those who desire them. The range on those are far more limited and don't sound so special, and make the movie feel lacking, so, go with the 5.1 remix as there is a louder sense to it and more to experience. English closed captions, French and Spanish subtitles are also included.

I guess a big draw here is to choose between the Unrated and R Rated Versions. So pick yours... the unrated is slightly altered in some key scenes, as the editing tends to be a bit quicker in some sequences and gives more racier shots.

The Making Of "Dressed To Kill" is a full frame documentary that has new interviews as a retrospect with the cast and crew. Throw in some non-anamorphic clips, stills of the script, on-the-set and other things and you got yourself another well crafted MGM documentry. Interviews with Brian De Palma, Angie Dickinson, Dennis Franz, producer George Litto, Nancy Allen and others are included. The documentary covers the idea of the film and how DePalma thought of it plus inspirations, inital thoughts of it, how the production came to be, body doubles (yes, not all of it Angie Dickinson's nude body), characters and a whole lot more. Terrific, and worth watching if you like the film.

Three featurettes are included. Dressed To Kill: An Appreciation by Keith Gordon is Pete Miller himself talking about the film. Stills from on the set and non-anamorphic clips are shown in the full frame featurette. Gordon talks about DePalma and specific scenes. He offers a good amount of praise and insight too.

Slashing "Dressed To Kill" talks about the cuts the movie faced. De Palma, Dickinson, Gordon, Litto and editor Jerry Greenberg contribute to this. De Palma was pretty upset as he had to trim the movie from X to R, and since this movie is rather visual, you can't blame him. Clips from the unrated and R rated versions are shown plus stills as well. Very in-depth and fascinating, don't miss this.

While there is a comparison in that featurette, you can view scenes together in A Film Comparison: The 3 Versions Of "Dressed To Kill." It's a bit clunky as the screen is split from the urnated and R, and then shows the rather tame TV version. An option to view them seperate and/or a better interface for them would have been nice. Still, interesting, but it was done better in "Slashing Dressed To Kill" as seeing two at once can get confusing and annoying.

Rounding the disc out is an Animated Photo Gallery, an Advertising Photo Gallery, the Original Theatrical Trailer in anamorphic widescreen and a Collectible Booklet inside the box. Not bad at all!

There's no denying "Dressed To Kill" is one of De Palma's better efforts when he was in his glory days, and while the transfer and sound are disappointing, the extras are great. Choosing between the unrated and R rated version is a big selling point for fans, but seeing how you can probably get this disc for about 15 bucks, it's worth it. Thriller fans, be sure to check it out!

(4/5 - NOT included in final score)

(2/5)

(3/5)

(3/5)

(3/5, NOT an average)

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