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Dressed To Kill
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 105 minutes
Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen,
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
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
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
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
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
NOT an average)