Body Double (1984)

body double poster 1984 brian de palma
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some good moments and visuals

Takes the bad parts of Vertigo for its plot

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Body Double

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  October 26, 1984

MPAA Rating:  R

body double rodeo drive killer gregg henry

Nope…not a psycho killer here…

Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is an actor hitting a rough patch.  He is suffering from claustrophobia, lost a role, and he just caught his wife cheating on him.  When he fortunately meets another actor named Sam Bouchard (Gregg Henry) who asks him to watch  a large, expensive home, Jake learns that a woman gives a trip tease nightly at the home across the way.  Jakegrows obsessed with the woman, but when he sees she might be targeted for murder, he finds himself caught up in a bigger mystery.

Directed by Brian De Palma, Body Double was written by Brian De Palma and Robert J. Avrech.  The mystery-suspense film is a homage to Alfred Hitchcock.  The movie was met with mixed reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.

body double 1984 melanie griffith craig wasson

You’re not Kim Novak

I’m not sold on Body Double.  I love Hitchcock, and I like Brian De Palma, but Body Double almost feels like it is sticking its tongue out at both directors and not in a good way.  There are some great moments in the movie, but if you know either director, you almost always know where the plot is going…and it feels less like homage and more like a rip-off.  There are plot points referenced so a ******spoiler alert****** warning is in effect.

The plot is both Body Double’s power and weakness.  The movie “borrows” from Vertigo (changing it to claustrophobia) and Rear Window (just turning the character out-and-out to being a peeping tom).  Vertigo’s outrageous plot was always my biggest problem with that film so to magnify that problem just shows the issues with that movie.  The movie also suffers from a really stupid ending.

Craig Wasson just can’t hold the movie is another problem.  He doesn’t feel very dynamic as a fake actor within the movie or a real actor.  Melanie Griffith is a very good Kim Novak substitute because both were sometimes acting challenged…but Novak has a glamor to her that isn’t with Griffith character (nor is it intended to be).  Gregg Henry also can’t pull off the needed twist as the actor friend.

body double vampire movie craig wasson

Wow…straight to video vampire movie material

The movie relishes the cheesy ’80s feel.  It has a Hollywood-esque look but it doesn’t get the noir factor that could have made it great.  The cheese factor of the movie is amplified by porn mock-ups and potentially the worst vampire movie of all time.  The make-up on the “Indian” also has you saying…hey, that’s Gregg Henry in make-up (which ruins the bad “twist” ending).

Body Double does have some classic Hitchockian and De Palma moments but it feels like weaker version of both of these directors.  If you are a fan of either director, you might want to check it out, but don’t expect to be wowed by a plot that is overblown and imagery that hasn’t aged well.  I realize a lot of the changes are intentional but that does not always make for good drama and instead almost becomes a parody at points.  Hitchcock might have problems with some of his stories, but the product is solid…the same can’t be said for Body Double.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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