I’d argue that Brian De Palma, without even trying, made the definitive 80’s film with “Body Double.” De Palma captures all of the excess, the egotism, and the apathy of the “Me decade,” without any of the moralizing or social commentary of a movie like “Wall Street” or “Risky Business.” He simply trains his cameras lens on futuristic UFO-shaped apartments, rotating beds with neon lights, sleek malls with underground parking decks, and the most outlandish porn sets ever seen by man, and lets them speak for themselves. If “Blue Velvet” had never been made, I’d dare call this my quintessential 80’s movie.
Beyond that, “Body Double” is a bold, shocking thriller that represents De Palma at his most acidic and playful. The film is simultaneously a love letter and big fat middle finger to Hollywood, embracing its trickery and illusion while comparing it to the sex industry. At 114 minutes the film can sometimes feel overly long but, a dramatic event halfway through causes to story to take a drastic turn – almost becoming another movie entirely – which makes the length not only necessary but justified.
You’ve got Craig Wasson in a likeably pathetic role, Melanie Griffith somehow making a jaded porn star seem adorable, and a wonderfully melodic soundtrack that combines suspense movie strings with ambient synth-pop. This is all without mentioning the bravado camera work and expertly-crafted setpieces you expect from a De Palma movie. “Body Double” stands alongside “Sisters” and “Obsession” as one of the director’s finest works. It’s everything that today’s R-rated thrillers for adults aren’t: clever, lurid, tongue-in-cheek, and just plain fun.