The year is 1984. The world is anxiously waiting for Brian De Palma’s next film after the now-classic Scarface received a mixed reception in ’83. In October, they got what they were waiting for – the dark and erotic Body Double, which now receives its UK Blu-ray debut courtesy of Powerhouse as part of their new ‘Indicator’ series of dual format releases.
Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who has lost his role as a vampire in a low-budget horror movie after his claustrophobia thwarts shooting. After returning home to discover his girlfriend cheating on him, he is left without a place to stay. Shortly thereafter he meets Sam (Gregg Henry), who offers him a place; his friend has left town temporarily and needs a house-sitter for his ultra-modern home in the Hollywood Hills. Sam is especially ecstatic about one feature: a beautiful female neighbour (Deborah Shelton), who erotically dances by her window at a specific time each night. And so begins a dark story of obsession and voyeurism with drastic consequences.
Body Double was a direct homage, albeit with a far darker and sexualised delivery, to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Rear Window and Vertigo were specifically inspiring to De Palma, with plot-lines and themes taken from both. But despite this, the film has an unmistakable identity of its own.
Although it underperformed at the box office and was met with a rather mixed critical reception, the film has gone on to become a cult classic – perhaps due to its aesthetic and directorial indulgences and killer 80s new-wave soundtrack. De Palma is on fire here with his twisted masterpiece, making everyone just a little bit afraid of power drills…
Utilising a 4K restoration and original stereo audio (as well as an alternative 5.1 track), Body Double looks and sounds remarkable. The release is also crammed full of special features including several fascinating short documentary features and an isolated score track – and as if that wasn’t enough, this limited-to-5,000-copies release also boasts a beautiful 40-page booklet with a new essay by Ashley Clark and a lengthy 1985 interview with De Palma himself.
Body Double is many things; a twisted thriller, a love letter to Hitchcock, a satire on Hollywood. But above all else, it is an unforgettable and timeless cinematic classic.