Dressed to Kill | Chicago Reader

Dressed to Kill

Brian De Palma plunders Psycho, with incidental grabs from Murder, Spellbound, and Vertigo. Originality has never been a high value in the genre-bound aesthetic of filmmaking, but De Palma cheapens what he steals, draining the Hitchcock moves of their content and complexity. He's left with a collection of empty technical tricks—obtrusive and gimmick-crazed, this film has been “directed” within an inch of its life—and he fills in the blanks with an offhand cruelty toward his characters, a supreme contempt for his audience (at one point, we're compared to the drooling voyeurs who inhabit his vision of Bellevue), and a curdled, adolescent vision of sexuality. The smirking, sarcastic tone is supposed to make the sex killings “fun,” but mostly it undermines whatever credibility the enterprise might have had. This is Brian De Palma's personal fantasy, and he's welcome to it (1980).


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