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?
As a fan of Dressed to Kill, I have been frustrated for years, unable to own a home video edition that did the flick justice. Whether the video was bad, the audio was off, or the film itself had been cut, it seemed every release has been flawed. But that was then and now, we have MGM’s excellent special edition DVD, which fixes most of the problems and finally, we fans can own this movie in a superb overall 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 special edition 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 a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I’ve never been to pleased with the home video releases for this movie, but MGM has finally hit most of the right chords with his superb visual presentation. The print looks cleaner than ever before, with minimal grain and defects, which means the entire visual scheme is altered. But in this case, altered is a good phrase, as we can now see the film’s lush visual details, which were hampered on previous home video editions. The colors have a before unseen richness here, hardly faded at all, while contrast looks excellent also. I was stunned to find so much more visible detail here, especially in some of the more tense, important sequences. I was blown away by this transfer and while some inherent flaws can be seen, this one should thrill fans to no mortal end.
Audio: How does it sound?
As is to be expected, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 remix has some problems, but these are due to the source materials, not this new track. I was never let down with the mix, but it lacks the depth and dynamics of more recent audio efforts, to be sure. In truth, I was more impressed the second time around, as I could soak in more of the subtle use, which slipped past my attentions the first time, since I was focused on the film. The surrounds are used well, with some good power use here and there, as well as atmospheric subtle touches, which add a lot to the experience. It does sound a tad thin at times, but on the whole, this is a terrific mix that enhances the viewer’s environment, but never at the expense of the material. This disc also includes English and French mono tracks, as well as French and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In addition to both the theatrical and uncut editions of the flick, you’ll find some great supplements here, kudos to MGM indeed. While we’re 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.