Monday, May 25, 2015

Dressed To Kill (1980)

To most of his detractors, Brian De Palma is known as, “the guy who rips off Alfred Hitchcock”. The argument is valid but most people only deal with it on a surface level. The operatic camera moves and thriller plots really call attention to themselves. But the Hitchcock parallels don’t stop there. For De Palma it goes to a much deeper level. Beyond the visuals and choice of genre, what really unites these two auteurs is how they also seem to share a bizarre view of human sexuality that is somehow simultaneously both perverse and conservative. As kinky as things can get in films like Rope or Body Double, there’s still a strong undercurrent of heteronormativity and fear of that which diverges from, “normal”. It both repels and attracts them. While the horrendously dated views of transsexuality espoused in Dressed to Kill are certainly regrettable and reprehensible, I feel that on a deeper level they point towards an artist who is aware of himself and is trying to reconcile the two opposing sides of his personality. He had to be aware of the fact that he cast his then-wife as a hooker in multiple films right? I don’t think Hitchcock ever got THAT personal.

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