Dressed to Kill (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Dr. Robert Elliott (Michael Caine) has a successful therapist’s practice, complete with a large base of clients, most of them female. When one of his female clients is brutally murdered with a razor, he is hesitant to become involved, especially in manners with the police. In turn, the police don’t seem too interested in the case on the whole, so the case is left open and little is done to look into it, beyond the simplest of tasks. This leaves Elliott to push for the truth, along with a prostitute that witnessed the crime, as well as the victim’s son. As expected, Elliott is reluctant to do too much in terms of investigations, but when more women come under the razor’s edge, he is forced to get involved, or risk letting more women be slashed to ribbons. But as he starts to delve into the mystery of the murders, he becomes thrust into a world unlike any he knows, one filled with dangerous sexual encounters, as well as intense fear and suspense. Can Elliott figure out who is behind the murders in time, or will many more victims pile up, including Elliott himself?
This movie has a checkered past in terms of home video, as for years there was never an acceptable release. Some looked awful, others had off kilter sound mixes, and still others featured truncated cuts of the film. MGM’s DVD release was a shining beacon for fans however, finally giving us a proper home video treatment. But now that disc can be retired, as this Blu-ray disc offers us an even better home video presentation. The movie itself is superb and in a genre overrun with mediocre films (thrillers), it stands tall as one of the finest examples of a thriller you’ll find. As director Brian DePalma guides us through a maze of thrills and suspense, with moments of intense terror that lead toward a tremendous finish. I love Dressed to Kill and not only is it one of my favorite thrillers, I also hold it among my personal favorites in any genre, it is simply that impressive. I cannot recommend this movie enough and since MGM has outdone themselves on this Blu-ray disc, I give this release a very high recommendation.

He’s sometimes dismissed as a hack Hitchcock, but I think Brian DePalma is a very talented filmmaker, complete with a few excellent efforts. I feel one of his best films is Dressed to Kill and in this uncut edition, it is all the more obvious how great his work is here. I simply love his direction in this movie, as he brings his usual elements, but expands them to new horizons. The tension here can be so thick and eerie, you almost want to look away, but you can’t, you just can’t look away from Dressed to Kill. Yes, traces of Hitchock’s style can be seen here, but this is a DePalma movie through and through, without a doubt. Other films directed by DePalma include Blow Out, Phantom of the Paradise, Body Double, Obsession, Sisters, and The Untouchables. The cast here includes Michael Caine (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Quills), Nancy Allen (Out of Sight, Robocop), and Angie Dickinson (Big Bad Mama, Ocean’s Eleven).

Video: How does it look?

Dressed to Kill is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. The previous DVD edition was a revelation in terms of visual performance, but this high definition version puts that one to shame. The image shows a lot more subtle detail, as you’d expect and an overall improvement in refinement. The clarity is impressive and the inherent grain remains intact, which means the visuals still have the texture only this type of film stock can provide. I found colors to be rich and vivid, with accurate contrast that ensures even the darkest scenes remain well refined. This is a superb transfer that is reason for fans to celebrate.

Audio: How does it sound?

A DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack is included. This mix is able to inject a little more tension in some scenes, which of course adds a lot to the experience. The audio still has a kind of thin presence, but that is due to the source, not this mix. The surrounds get used often, though mostly for subtle atmosphere and the music. Even so, when they’re used it enhances the movie’s mood, which is important in this kind of picture. No issues as far as dialogue, as all the vocals sound clear throughout. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

In addition to the uncut edition of the flick, you’ll find some great supplements here, the same goodies from the Special Edition DVD. On the topic of the different versions of the film, this disc has a comparison featurette, which looks at the theatrical, uncut, and television editions of Dressed to Kill. This is a most welcome inclusion, as it shows how much the cuts lessen the film’s impact and of course, makes us appreciate the included uncut version. You’ll also find two more brief featurettes, the first of which is an appreciation by Keith Gordon, while the second takes a look at the backlash against Dressed to Kill’s violence. I found both to be worth a look, but the latter was a real treat, as it expanded on the production’s troubles with the MPAA, very cool stuff. The main draw here is The Making of Dressed to Kill, a documentary which runs about forty-five minutes and uses them all, I assure you. This piece includes retrospective interviews with DePalma, as well as various cast members, all of whom seem open and talkative, so tons of information is passed on here. This disc also includes a photo montage, an in depth selection of advertising materials, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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