Possibly the best film that Alfred Hitchcock never made. I'd say it was schlocky if it didn't serve as such a brilliant deconstruction of the psycho-thriller genre that the Master defined. Once again, De Palma displays his astonishing ability to lay bare the most depraved ideas that his idol always flirted with.
Another great lurid and bombastic thriller from cinema's greatest and most shameless plagiarist Brian DePalma. His kinetic camerawork is thrilling as usual, and his sense of the Hitchcockian top notch as always. But what struck me the most was the quality of the performances. Michael Caine is sublimely creepy, and Nancy Allen both cute and sexy. DePalma is at his best with this type of film.
If De Palma had simply made gripping, cheeky trash art, it would have been enough. But "Dressed to Kill" is more, an extension and deconstruction of "Psycho." It delves deeper into the psychosexual subtext of Hitchcock's masterpiece and even pokes fun at (or pays homage to) the infamous scene explaining Norman's condition. And with Pete, we get a hint of the detective-as-voyeur as explored in "Blow Out."
Sometimes I try to make the case that De Palma was some sort of a schlocky genius - he used sleaze as a gateway to make darkly funny, ironic statements. Blow Out qualifies, this fails. Badly. And why is he so fixated on the Psycho shower scene. This is the 3rd film of his I've seen which has a bathing beauty being attacked in a shower.
An unapologetic Hitchcock homage, if Hitchcock were allowed to show all the things he just implied. DePalma's body of work is tricky, at once formal, schlocky, and personal—oddly satisfying, too. Maybe its because he knows that, this far into cinema, the only way to catch an audience off guard is to be truly ridiculous.
(Spoiler) Interesting that it began and ended just like "Carrie"... A shower scene and a dream sequence.
So lovingly and carefully made. With each viewing you come across something new lurking in the background...or some detail you missed. Dickenson is just great, considering her role only has about 10 lines of dialogue. The slasher movie craze created a couple of masterpieces...this is one of them.
Definitely a very strange film, uneven and of its time. But at the same time, underneath the skin of a Hollywood thriller, DePalma grapples with sexuality and voyeurism in an intensely personal way. If for no other reason, DtK deserves close examination for the sublime, almost wordless art gallery sequence that could have come either out of Lynch or giallo.