Within the book American Psycho, the protagonist Patrick Bateman fixates on two specific films, one of them being Body Double (1984) for it’s gruesome scene where a woman is killed by a two-foot-long drill. Even before the release of Body Double, director Brian De Palma had the reputation of gruesome mixes of sexual themes and downright disgusting murder. Part of this reputation came from his film adaptation of of Stephen King’s Carrie, in which a prom night turns into a supernatural massacre. It shouldn’t be surprising that this week’s Collegiate Lenses deals with his 1980 sexual hack-and-slash turned thriller, Dressed to Kill.
The film itself a remix, a huge homage to the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Hitchcock’s Psycho is still relevant even today, the up-close shower killings still make viewers choke with claustrophobia and the theme is repeated through countless mediums. Dressed to Kill wasn’t the first to bring back the scene and it definitely wasn’t the last to do so. But the reason Dressed to Kill stands out is because the filming before and after the iconic murder recreation, namely a ten-minute-long silent scene in a museum that manages to portray entire throes of a relationship with only body language and set design. On the other side of the museum love story is the obvious parallel to the infamous shower scene in the brutal elevator killing, complete with the same voyeuristic themes present in Hitchcock’s masterpiece, the viewer watching helplessly through a convex mirror.
Present within the film is a host of psychological discussions and explanations, including heavy Freudian themes for each of the characters involved. Without spoiling too much, the film is abruptly more sexual than any of Hitchcock’s works, with long erotic scenes and a climax that discusses both gender and sexuality. This specific blend leaves the viewer perpetually uncomfortable and frightened, in ways that don’t rely on basic shock value but instead rely on the underpinnings of the human consciousness itself.
Put on your blonde wig, don Collegiate Lenses, and get ready for the frightening ride of Dressed to Kill.
Dressed to Kill Drinking Game Rules:
Take a drink…
- Whenever someone is attacked
- When Bobbi makes an appearance, whether in voice or in person
- If an overtly sexual scene comes on
- When a character screams at the top of their lungs
- Finish your drink when you find out the identity of the killer
Take this list as a suggestion, and drink responsibly. As always, enjoy the show.