Before the R-rated sex-scenes were turned up to 11 by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct in 1990, there was Brian DePalma. As a director he had been there done that in 1980 with the superb horror-slasher Dressed To Kill. This bloody and taut horror suspense-thriller is famous for 3 things:

  • A-list Cast: Angie Dickinson and Michael Caine
  • *****SPOILER****** The usage of the Hitchcock audience head-fake of killing off your lead actress in the first ⅓ of the film and introducing entirely new characters
  • Pushing the envelope of R-rated sex scenes into near softcore porn

But here’s a new angle in watching this movie. Today we are steeped in Geek culture. If the 1980’s was about the muscular, handsome, swashbuckling Bruce Willis-Arnold Schwarzenegger archetypes, and the 1990’s was the anti-hero archetype of Johnny Depp and Leo DiCaprio, today we are steeped in Geek culture. Everywhere you look in film and TV the geek is getting the girl. The bookworm with tape on his glasses, that codes chess apps and plays D&D is getting laid today- at least in film and television.

Dressed To Kill

Dressed to Kill (1980) Brian DePalma uses the Hitchcock Head fake on the audience with Angie Dickinson

The Horror Scenario Played Out in the Pre-Digital Age: Brian De Palma Achieves in Dressed to Kill

 

So, again, Brian De Palma has already been there and done that. When you get past the steller A-list cast of this taut horror-thriller and the Hitchcock techniques and explicit sexuality you essentially have the nerd, in the pre digital age using his brains, wits and tech gadgets to get to the bottom of the mystery and catch the killer. In the process he wins over the sexy call girl. So if today’s nerdy misfit finds strength in the heroic adventures of the Stranger Things kids or Walking Dead’s Glenn look no further than Dressed to Kill. And, similar to Stranger Things, Dressed To Kill is also at the dawn of the digital age when analog devices were all anybody used. In 1980 it was not so easy to capture video and images, or easily access info in ways that we take for granted today- which makes the ingenious process of identifying the killer even more satisfying. So take a look at director Brian DePalma’s second greatest horror film.

Oh, and what’s DePalma’s number one greatest horror film you ask? This one of course 🙂

Dressed To Kill

Dressed To Kill (1980) Keith Gordon and Nancy Allen take over the film from Angie Dickinson

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