Body Double (1984)

Rating: C+

Dir: Brian De Palma
Star: Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton, Gregg Henry

This ludicrous but undeniably entertaining ‘erotic thriller’ has Wasson playing homeless actor Jake Scully, who leaps at the chance to house-sit a Hollywood mansion – not least because the view includes a neighbour (Shelton) with an apparent fondness for dancing nude. He grows obsessed with her, and matters come to a head when she is murdered, using an industrial drill, by an Indian burglar. But is everything what it seems? ‘Course not, as the title implies. To solve the mystery, Jake enters the XXX world, his voyeurism becoming particpatory, leading to a final resolution at a reservoir where the film topples completely over the edge – much like one of the characters, actually…

De Palma is perhaps the closest Hollywood has produced to Dario Argento, in that he never let logic of plot or characters get in the way. Certainly, the ease with which Jake goes from Shakespeare to porn is laughable, even filtered through a wondefully gratuitous promo for Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Still, there’s probably few better than De Palma at sleazy spectacle, though Wasson’s resemblance to Bill Maher is scary. He stumbles through the intricacies of the story, and it’s clear why Melanie Griffith became a star, not Casson. It’s all nonsense, and Hitchcock was probably spinning in his grave, yet despite being two decades old, the second half especially is worth consideration as a guilty pleasure.