Blu-Ray Review: Body Double

There are very few American directors still working in Hollywood today who are held in the same reverence and regard as Brian De Palma. He first emerged in the American New Wave, along with the likes of Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola, but his career has had a very singular trajectory. Films such as Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables and Carlito’s Way are lauded but much of his work is relatively unknown. Body Double, despite following on from the success of Scarface, falls into the latter category.

Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who’s lost his job due to claustrophobia and has nowhere to live. He meets Sam (Gregg Henry) at an acting class who takes pity, setting him up with house-sitting a plush Hollywood Hills pad. Jake’s favourite aspect of the new place is the ability to spy on his attractive neighbour (Deborah Shelton) through a telescope. When she’s murdered he’s the prime suspect, but Jake becomes increasingly suspicious of a mysterious porn star (Melanie Griffith).

Body Double is a homage to Hitchcock, featuring themes and tropes from several of his films. Indeed, at times it steals wholesale. Never shy of controversy, De Palma pushed the boundaries by making essentially (at the time) a soft-core suspense thriller. Whilst Wasson’s acting is suspect, this is clearly the plan. Indeed, it’s trashy and nasty but done so with a wink and a nod. Body Double is De Palma sticking two fingers up to the studios and censors alike. It’s a very clever film which knows exactly what it’s doing.

Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:

• 4K restoration
• Original stereo audio
• Alternative 5.1 surround sound track
• Craig Wasson Interview (1984, 8 mins): archival NBC interview conducted by Bobbie Wygant
Pure Cinema (2015, 38 mins): extensive interview with first assistant director Joe Napolitano
The Seduction (2002, 17 mins): De Palma discusses the first treatment of the script
The Setup (2002, 17 mins): an examination of the plot
The Mystery (2002, 12 mins): Melanie Griffith discusses her nude scenes and De Palma’s shyness
The Controversy (2002, 6 mins): cast and crew discuss the film’s critical reception
• Isolated score: experience Pino Donaggio’s original soundtrack music
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Ashley Clark and archival reprints, including a lengthy 1985 interview with De Palma
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 5,000 copies
• UK Blu-ray premiere

Body Double is released on Dual Format by Powerhouse Films on Monday.

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