Sunday, June 28, 2009

Honourable Mentions: Body Double

coverThis is a Brian DePalma flick from 1984 and probably the best way to describe it is the bastard offspring of Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) and Rear Window (1954). That is if the child hit puberty during the eighties and decided that all the excess of the eighties were worth adopting and making its trade mark.

DePalma manages to take the voyeurism of Rear Window and make it incredibly sordid, to the point were hero of the piece Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) seems somewhat tarnished and his antics – at one point – become almost painful to observe for the viewer and yet it is drawn in such a way that we can't help but watch him watching.

Frankie goes to Hollywood... and shoots a pornoThe film is also amusing referential of Hollywood, the acting profession and the porn industry, for instance, when Jake is asked if he has done anything good (as an actor) he mentions a role in Hart to Hart – which Craig Wasson had been in. The film manages to be rather surreal at times. The set of a porn film actually transmogrifies into a Frankie Goes to Hollywood video and Holly Johnson himself is there singing Relax to Jake, who is playing a role in said porn film. Paul Rutherford from the band is also there.

claustrophobia in a coffinJake starts off the movie by having a really bad day. As a camera pans across a film set graveyard, going through the earth to the coffin in which a vampire lies. The eyes flick open and we here the director, Rubin (Dennis Franz), giving instruction but Scully does not respond – he is claustrophobic and the coffin set is a problem for him. Soon he has gone home to find his girlfriend enthusiastically riding another man, falls off the sobriety wagon and, eventually, loses the role in Vampire’s Kiss.

Jake and SamThings seem to pick up when he meets Sam Bouchard (Gregg Henry), another struggling actor who is going away and needs to sub-let the rather plush home that he is house sitting. He points out the neighbour in the nearby mansion, Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), a woman who likes to perform for herself and who can be seen, voyeuristically, through a conveniently positioned telescope. This is the cue for Jake to be drawn into a most surreal murder – but the surreal nature of the situation actually works in the film’s favour.

filming Vampire's KissWe get a little more vampire action at the end, as we see some more of Vampire’s Kiss being filmed – including the use of a body double for breast shots. This also allows us to have a full on Crap Bat Syndrome moment – with visible wires and everything. Interestingly, we see the credits of Body Double running over the take of Vampire’s Kiss in a way that really worked nicely.

Interesting, if uncomfortable, crime thriller with an appearance of Melanie Griffith as porn actress Holly Body and a bit of a vampire moment book ending the films – albeit the filming of a vamp movie.

The imdb page is here.

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