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Mystery Movies - Body Double

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Body Double Special Edition
Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry, Dennis Franz
Directed by Brian De Palma
Originally released 1984
Sony Pictures Home Video 2006
114 minutes

Body Double is one of the greatest thrillers and mystery DVD ever made but not to everyone's taste. Director Brian De Palma has a lot of fun making this rather gory and sexually explicit movie and it shows. Right from the opening scene of Body Double you know De Palma is telling you not to believe everything you see. This mystery opens with a scene that consciously echoes the closing scene of De Palma's Carrie before dollying to a vampire afraid of coming out of his coffin and then cutting because this was just a movie being made within this thriller. You then get a few more instances where trompe l'oeil rules. Even the opening credits of Body Double do not belong to De Palma's movie but to the horror movie being made within it.

Craig Wasson (a definite doppelganger for comic Bill Maher) plays Jake Scully, an actor whose claustrophobia gets in the way when his vampire character has to come out of the coffin. He goes home to find his girlfriend in bed with another man and somehow lucks out on a really cool sublet in the Hollywood hills that has a terrific view -if you use a telescope-of a luscious neighbor, Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton) who gives a show at her window every night. Now single, Jake decides to meet this dream exhibitionist and that is when the trouble starts, especially when a creepy looking guy is also trying to meet the girl.

Though Body Double is stylistically a great movie and story wise also very good, director Brian De Palma has always had a problem with making movies that are too long for no reason. This is no exception in Body Double where the basic elements of the story have been set up and De Palma continues setting them up. This does not really detract from enjoying this DVD thriller but you do wish he would get on with it. The movie does hit its stride, after a bit of stalking by the Craig Wasson character when he tries to stop a guy who steals Gloria's purse and then cannot follow him into a tunnel. That same evening, Jake witnesses Gloria's brutal and very gory murder at the hands of the purse snatcher. The murder scene itself is something most people will definitely feel squeamish watching.

The detective investigating the Revelle murder has a bit of a problem with Scully because he sees him as a stalker and peeping tom and also because Scully tried to call her to warn her instead of calling the police. This is the first half of Body Double. Appropriately, the second half begins with Jake watching a clip of Holly Body's (Melanie Griffith) latest adult movie. This leads him into auditioning for a role in an adult film (and a cameo for Frankie of Frankie Goes to Hollywood fame) all because he recognized a tattoo on Holly's body.

This makes Jake pose as a producer so he can talk the Melanie Griffith character into revealing her link with the Revelle woman. Somehow, Jake has clued into the fact the guy who lent him the apartment hired Holly Body to do her act in the Revelle's apartment so he would keep watching her and witness her murder. While Jake is trying to tell this story to Griffith, someone is watching him from the dead woman's apartment. He also tells his story to the cop, who does not believe him.

This is where the movie really picks up as he then sees Holly get whacked on the head while she is in a car in front of him, eludes the cops, and follows the killer to rescue Holly.

De Palma may indulge a bit but Body Double is a mystery DVD that will certainly keep you guessing, thrill you, and make you wonder though you will certainly be puzzled by the ending.

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