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26 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

It's a rip-off, but a stylish and mostly enjoyable one.

Author: Li-1
25 July 2003

** 1/2 out of ****

Director Brian De Palma has never helmed a truly original film his entire career, but let's face it, he's just as good as anybody else when it comes to crafting palpable suspense, and it's this talent of his that makes his more blatant rip-offs immensely watchable. Dressed to Kill is one such example. Taking a few cues from Alfred Hitchcock, it's an erotic thriller that (mostly) emphasizes character and suspense over sleaze.

Angie Dickinson stars as Kate Miller, a sexually dissatisfied wife (though quite loving mother) who needs some things to spice up her personal life. She relates her problems to her psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Elliot (Michael Caine), to the point of almost prodding him to sleep with her, but he refuses. On a random day in an art museum, she encounters a mysterious man with whom she plays a little game of cat-and-mouse. Following him to a cab, they enage in a tryst inside the taxi, all the way to his apartment, where they proceed to go at it for several more hours. Then as she awakens to leave, she finds out through a little note by the health department he's got STD's! In a panicked state, she runs to the elevator, but is brutally murdered by a tall, blonde woman brandishing a razor blade. The rest of the film focuses on Miller's son, Peter (Keith Gordon), who teams up with a gold-hearted prostitute (Nancy Allen) to find his mother's killer.

Dressed to Kill doesn't get off to the best start. For the first half-hour, the sexual frustrations of this middle-aged woman are less than captivating, and until the elevator scene, this is a snoozer. But the remaining 2/3's or so of the picture is often first-rate entertainment, delivering an abundance of suspenseful moments and shocking violence.

The film improves drastically when it focuses on the relationship between Gordon and Allen. Both deliver good performances, and there's a non-sexual chemistry between them that works superbly. Too bad De Palma doesn't really focus on this interesting couple until the last half-hour.

The last five minutes are among the film's most suspenseful (and you get to see Allen naked!), though I think we're all in a little agreement when we say that the final shock is a bit gratuitous. Also excessive is the film's resemblance to a certain Hitchcock film. Even without that resemblance, though, Dressed to Kill would still have been predictable. I mean, come on, I knew the identity of the killer in a heartbeart. You'll figure it out just as fast, too.

Pino Dinaggio's score is chilling and among his better works. De Palma graces the screen with his usual camera work, there are a lot of uninterrupted shots and split-screens. A lot of people see Dressed to Kill as a "have safe sex" message, which I could kind of agree with, even though Dickinson's character would still have been offed in a horrible manner even without that tryst.

The first of De Palma's two erotic thrillers, Dressed to Kill happens to be the weaker of the two. Yeah, it's often suspenseful and entertaining, but Body Double stands out more, with better pacing, suspense, and direction. My advice, take a look at both and decide for yourself.

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28 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

A modern classic

Author: chris81 from Boston, MA
4 July 2002

"Dressed to Kill" has been more or less forgotten in critical circles in the past 20 years, but it is a true American classic, a film which is much more than just a glossy thriller.

I sincerely hope the DVD release will give more people the chance to hear about it and see it.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Amazing music and camera movement

Author: talemunja from Beograd, Srbija
18 December 2012

For early 80' this movie deserves respect. Brian De Palma present story that keep's your attention to the last minute.

I usually start napping after barely half of movie's today but he's movies keeps me focused. What i like in this and on movies by Palma i watched is-unpredictability.

Good movie, worth of watching, seriously.

It can be better of course but it's good. Long as keep your attention, driving you into story, stopping you from thinking. You just lie and let movie drives you into a story, enjoying a good trip to the end.

Acting is so natural, almost like in real life behavior. Characters in this movie are very natural. I like that.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly hokey and dated

Author: 210west from New York City
10 June 2016

Prompted by the new documentary on De Palma, I finally sat down and watched this film. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was: It's really nothing but a tarted-up giallo, the sort of thing Mario Bava or Dario Argento might have made, only with a 20-times-bigger budget and at least one bigger star.

Like the Italian giallos, it has a complicated, thoroughly preposterous comic-book-Hitchcock plot, the same salaciousness, the same lurid violence, the same air of unreality.

However, where Argento films tend to have jarringly inappropriate electronic rock scores, this one has an equally inappropriate lush romantic score that reminded me of a high-priced supper club.

Granted, context is everything. If "Dressed to Kill" were the work of some little-known Italian genre specialist, I'm sure I'd be praising it right now. I like giallos. Lurid and preposterous? Not a problem.

But for a well-regarded (if controversial) Hollywood box-office hit, the film seems stupid, fakey, and somewhat distasteful. Even with a body double, you'd think Angie Dickinson would have been embarrassed by it.

I actually found myself looking away at times -- not because of the excessive (and really pretty gratuitous) blood and nudity, but because of the horribly stilted acting by Dickinson and, even worse, by Nancy Allen. I guess it's been said a million times, but wow, the latter certainly was lucky to have been married to De Palma. It's hard to imagine any other way she'd ever have been cast. (Nice lady, I'm sure. Pleasant enough in "Strange Invaders.")

The film is currently 35 years old, and it feels it. The plot seems crude. The action scenes, sometimes in slow motion, feel stagey and unreal. The police-procedural aspects and the scenes involving psychotherapy also seem unreal (though that sort of thing is par for the course in giallos).

What also felt dated -- and, God knows, politically incorrect by today's standards -- was the treatment of blacks and transsexuals, though I must admit this seemed downright refreshing.

P.S. I once had a long conversation with a film-school student who'd just won some sort of college-level directing award, and I remember asking him whom he regarded as the most overrated director then working. Without much of a pause, he said, "Brian De Palma" -- which I thought was a pretty good answer.

Still, I do very much enjoy "Phantom of the Paradise" and "Carlito's Way."

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14 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Designer knockoff...

Author: Merwyn Grote ( from St. Louis, Missouri
8 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is difficult to know just how to judge Brian DePalma's films. He is undeniably talented, and is capable of creating masterful works of kitschy dark humor like CARRIE and THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, elegantly stylized suspense thrillers like OBSESSION and slick colorful popcorn epics like THE FURY and THE UNTOUCHABLES. Yet, much of his filmography is dominated by cheesy trash, marked by sloppy plotting, self-consciously showy set pieces and sometimes embarrassingly awkward drama. Often, too often, he focuses his attention on one or two sequences on which he can sate his penchant for flamboyant camera stunts and the rest of the film is slapped together with narratives and scenes that are as rickety as a rope suspension bridge from an old jungle movie.

His tendency to plagiarize, er, uh ... pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock is well known, but he is not all that discriminating in his thefts. He steals the set up for DRESSED TO KILL from Hitchcock's PSYCHO, imitates a bit of VERTIGO and even shoplifts from FAMILY PLOT, but the bulk of the film has no great respect for the master's work. It is like stealing the crown jewels to use the gems as trinkets on a dime store charm bracelet. The bits and pieces of Hitchcock that DePalma flashes on screen are meant to be nothing more than little trophies.

Like PSYCHO, the film is a two-part story; part one being a personal drama about a woman in emotional turmoil and the second half a thriller. But one of the reasons DRESSED TO KILL doesn't work is that DePalma doesn't seem to get what makes PSYCHO great and he totally fumbles act one. In PSYCHO, Hitchcock carefully structured the Janet Leigh story to be a compelling, self contained drama, separate, yet firmly connected to the Anthony Perkins thriller that followed. DRESSED TO KILL gives us this long and ultimately pointless shaggy dog act one involving Angie Dickinson as Kate Miller, a desperate housewife looking for some hot sex in the afternoon. DePalma has never shown any intrinsic gifts for comedy, yet he repeatedly goes for ill-considered humor to no real effect. When Kate serves up a smirky sexual innuendo to her teenage son, you can't help but cringe. Her discovery that she might have been exposed to a venereal disease seems aimed at getting a tasteless laugh, Even her lurid masochistic sex dream comes with a punchline.

The film treats Kate like a pathetic joke and introduces her to one humiliation after another, before disposing of her and her story entirely. Unlike Leigh's Marion Crane, Dickinson's Kate Miller is pitiable, but not very sympathetic. Despite a nice performance by Dickinson, her character is nothing more than a trivial plot device. Yet, this disposable beginning is the best thing about DRESSED TO KILL. Though it is treated with all the subtlety of second-rate soft-core porn, this part of the film at least provides some guilty pleasure sleaziness to it. When the film gets to its slasher movie core, DePalma clumsily stitches together a lame series of sequences involving a cross-dressing killer, improbable coincidences and a vaguely homophobic plot littered with treacherously illogical holes and punctuated with embarrassingly bad dialogue. And the less said the better about the almost comatose performance by Michael Caine as a compromised psychiatrist and the creepy work of Dennis Franz in what would be the first of many stereotyping roles as a vulgar, unpleasant police detective.

When the film came out in 1980, it was greeted with mixed reviews, though a good number of top critics embraced it on purely stylistic grounds. And on one viewing, without much time for thought, the film moves along nicely if improbably from one contrived moment to the next. But great, or even good thrillers should be able to endure repeated viewings; knowing all a film's secrets should not lessen the enjoyment of watching it more than once. Indeed, the more a film like PSYCHO reveals about itself the more there is for the viewer to enjoy. But the striptease that DRESSED TO KILL does over repeated viewings only prompts the viewer to see that the pseudo-sophisticated style DePalma drapes over his tale is only meant to hide an already lifeless mannequin.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A classic psycho suspense thriller that's a sexual erotic tease that entertains having thrilling interest of sex and murder only to take a shocking twist!

Author: Danny Blankenship from Petersburg, Virginia
22 May 2016

Clearly one of the most classic 1980 films is that of Brian De Palma's "Dressed to Kill" it's an interesting and well acted and simply shot suspense thriller that teases with drama and murder all while blending sex and skin in so well it's really an eye candy treat! The pace of the film is fast and fever pitch from start to finish keeping you the viewer on edge and guessing only to be thrown for a twist and a shock by the end of the picture.

Set in New York city in Manhattan the story begins with Kate Miller(the bold and near perfect Angie Dickinson)as a middle age housewife who has problems she's sexually frustrated as her husband can't get it right in bed and her only son is a computer and book nerd named Peter(Keith Gordon)who wants to explore more. So one afternoon before lunch after Kate has a session with her psychiatrist Dr. Elliott(the in top form Michael Caine)she decides to end the afternoon at the city art museum only does she later find out that it will end for good for her! As it's after meeting a mystery type looking guy she follows him to his taxi then to the apartment for a one night stand type of affair, then slowly but surely the film starts to take twist and turns after Kate's life ends some of the characters are connected others are hard to get a read on as no one is who they seem.

Now enter Liz Blake(the sexy Nancy Allen)who's a high priced call girl escort type who's at the apartment complex and is a witness to the murder of Kate as she lay in blood on the elevator soon one by one or little by little the pieces start to come together or do they this picture is like a jigsaw puzzle that throws you for a loop. Really it's a thrilling interest as the mystery blonde woman is not really what it seems to be! Plus the movie and film is blended and spiced up nice with plenty of sex and skin and most of it is carried by the sexy performance of Nancy Allen as she rocks it up as call girl Liz as the scene where she strips down to her black bra and panties is some great eye candy! Overall "Dressed to Kill" is one fun sexual thrill tease of suspense and twist a maze of complex obsession, deceit and emotional bloody drama of skin and murder as it's really like an identity nightmare for everyone involved. Really this is one memorable classic to see and it's enjoyable to watch many times over.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Classic DePalma stuff

Author: Predrag ( from Serbia
2 May 2016

The 'Pure Cinema' approach deployed here also evokes the best work of Dario Argento, though De Palma clearly has his own agenda. His script attends the fall-out from a terrifying attack on a frustrated housewife (Angie Dickinson) by a razor-wielding maniac who then turns his/her attentions to the sole witness, a streetwise hooker (Nancy Allen) who teams up with Dickinson's teenage son (Keith Gordon) when she becomes a suspect in the case.

After a slow first 25 minutes, Dressed to Kill is filled with unbearable suspense for the next 75 minutes. The last 3 minutes of the film are particularly nerve wracking. There are so many great suspense sequences that work throughout the entire film, all the way from the elevator scene to a chase into the subway. Those scenes should give any viewer a good scare. It's certainly what one would describe as edge-of-your seat suspense. I know those sequences freaked me out, and those last few minutes in the film is a true heart-pounding nerve jangler. This is what De Palma is good at and he should make more films like this.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Strangely Satisfying Thriller!

Author: g-bodyl from United States
21 June 2014

I have read about the controversy this film created back in 1980, but it wasn't until now when I viewed the film that I can see why. This is a sharp, twisty thriller that borrows effectively from Alfred Hitchcock trademarks. But upon viewing it, Dressed to Kill is a strangely erotic film that is almost like a soft porn movie. Some of the scenes made me think that I was watching a porn film, but this film will succeed in holding your attention.

This film, directed by Brian De Palma, is about a woman named Kate Miller who has a sexually frustrated life and she sees a therapist named Dr. Robert Elliot. But sometime later, she meets this guy at a museum and they have sex. But she finds out he has a sexually transmitted disease and in her haste, she leaves without her wedding ring. But when she reaches the elevator, she is brutally murdered by a razor. From there on out, confusion ensues as people try to track down the killer.

The acting is really good. Michael Caine shines very well as Elliot and I wish he had more screen time. Nancy Allen was very effective and had the best overall performance. Angie Dickinson was also really good, but she hardly had any screen time.

Overall, Dressed to Kill is a very smart, though erotic thriller that gives off a similar feel to a Hitchcock film. The tension is high and it can also be scary at times. So in other words, it effectively delivers the thrills. I rate this film 9/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"Dressed" to Impress

Author: chucknorrisfacts
30 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched "Dressed to Kill" on Netflix. I have to say I really liked the movie a lot. I was surprised because Brian De Palma's movies tend to be hit or miss for me.

If you like suspenseful movies, there's no reason for you not to like "Dressed to Kill". It might come off as a little bit of a "Psycho" ripoff at times, but since I've heard De Palma was a big fan of Hitchcock, I think any similarities are intentional and in homage to Hitchcock rather than trying to rip him off.

I only had one minor complaint about the movie, I feel like they REALLY went into detail at the end to make sure you knew what happened, which was OK, but I feel like they didn't have to explain it as thoroughly as they did. It's almost like the filmmakers were afraid the audience wouldn't pick up on what was going on, or if they did, were afraid they wouldn't understand why what happened did happen.

I think had they had a little bit more faith in the audience's ability to understand what was going on it would've been just a bit better, but like I said it's a minor complaint.

I give it an eight out of ten! Check it out! It's worth seeing if only to check out sexy looking Nancy Allen!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Heavy On Influence, But Still Really Distinctive

Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
19 September 2006

Dressed To Kill is one of Brian De Palma's earlier thrillers, one of his heavily flawed but incredibly entertaining suspense films. It, like Body Double, pathologically mimics Hitchcock's classics. Its plot, if not practically a sexier, 1980s-style remake of Psycho, is at least cut from the exact same cloth. The way we're made to think we're watching a completely different kind of movie right up until the big turning point happens, the transsexual element, etc., are all in homage to Psycho.

De Palma, even when immersed in Hitchcock's influence, can't help but keep his movie as distinctive as possible from your average suspense thriller. His style is completely his own: His split-screen effects that, instead of being phone conversations, are perfectly timed simultaneous events; his subtle background details that can often times be very creepy; his POV shots; his constant use of mirrors and reflections.

Michael Caine, as one would expect from any movie he's in, steals every of his scenes from the rest of the cast, whose performances lean towards the corny side, even spankable Nancy Allen, who I liked a lot in RoboCop, Carrie, and her surprise bit part in Out of Sight.

Whatever typical trappings of average 1980s suspense movies this one happens to have, and whatever silliness the plot suffers from whilst tra-la-laing in Hitchcockland, it's easy popcorn entertainment. I would say it's one of those movies that's good to happen upon when flipping through channels if it weren't so edited. The TV version is incredibly lame, butchering the movie to Lifetime or Hallmark status, and the R-rated version detracts from most of the creepy effect of the murder scene. Be sure to see the unrated version.

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