Adamantium Bullet

31 Days Of Horror: DRESSED TO KILL

For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror film a day leading up to Halloween. Each film will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All will be endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s “All 80s” edition of 31 DAYS OF HORROR.

In this episode, J Bryant and AngieBee discuss writer/director Brian De Palma's classy 1980 chiller DRESSED TO KILL starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, and Keith Gordon.

When Liz Blake (Nancy Allen), a prostitute, sees a mysterious woman brutally slay homemaker Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson), she finds herself trapped in a dangerous situation. While the police think Liz is the murderer, the real killer wants to silence the crime's only witness. Only Kate's inventor son, Peter (Keith Gordon), believes Liz. Peter and Liz team up to find the real culprit, who has an unexpected means of hiding her identity and an even more surprising motivation to kill.

Three kills total. One legit kill and two dream sequence fake-out kills.

Kate (Angie Dickinson) being slashed to death on the elevator by Bobbi is one of the all-time great horror movie kills. Up until the moment it happens, the audience has been lead to believe that Kate was the main character of the film. To kill her off, and in such a shocking and sad way, throws the entire plot up in the air. Anything can happen from that point forward. No one is safe.

Kate was fully nude early on, but actress Angie Dickinson did not perform the scene, her stand-in, Penthouse Pet Victoria Johnson, did. Liz, however, goes fully nude later in the picture and struts about for a good bit in some sexy lingerie, and that very much WAS actress Nancy Allen performing those scenes. Outside of the two leading ladies, a nurse was stripped down in the finale to her undies/lingerie, but it was not a pleasant moment, and three men (Warren, Ted, and the “Man In Shower”) went shirtless.

See MOST MEMORABLE KILL or the moment when the killer’s identity was revealed. Both are as signature as a SIGNATURE MOMENT can possibly be.

Kate calling home to check on her family from the apartment of her one night stand. Now, I realize that *69 and similar services were not widely available back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but there was certainly a way her husband or son could’ve figured out the number that called. Had they figured out the number then they would’ve easily been able to identity Kate’s lover …and, well, this theoretical scenario probably would’ve ended badly. So yeah, Kate calling home from a one night stand’s apartment was a giant IDIOT MOMENT.

About midway through DRESSED TO KILL, writer/director Brian De Palma attempted to perform some serious timeline trickery and red herring deployment in order to confuse the audience as to the killer’s identity. His attempt failed. Yes, there was an explanation given later in the film as to how the killer appeared to be in two places at once, but it was a bullsh*t explanation given to cover up what was a blatant mislead. That moment – vague spoilers for a nearly 40 year old film - involved the killer simultaneously checking their messages at their office AND stalking Liz through the subway – was as “WTF?!?” as a “WTF?!?” MOMENT can possibly be.

> As a young man, Brian De Palma, at his mother's urging, actually followed his father and used recording equipment to try and catch him with another woman. That incident inspired this film.

> Angie Dickinson said the scene where her character gets seduced in the back of a cab, was filmed on location in New York City, where several gawkers observed the scene and shouted, "Right on, Police Woman!" (a reference to her previous television role on POLICE WOMAN).

> The conversation between Liz and Peter at the end of the movie about male-to-female surgery, was filmed at the “Windows on the World” restaurant complex in the World Trade Center.

> In the late 1970s, Brian De Palma wrote a screenplay based on Gerald Walker's article "Cruising", but was unable to obtain the rights to the material. Cruising, the story of a series of brutal murders in the gay New York underworld, was subsequently adapted and directed by William Friedkin, while De Palma fashioned some of the elements from his own CRUISING screenplay into DRESSED TO KILL. Both films were released, to great controversy (and after numerous battles with the MPAA to avoid X ratings), in 1980.

> The flirtatious sequence with Angie Dickinson and the mystery man in the museum, lasts almost nine minutes, during which time no dialogue whatsoever is spoken.

> Sir Sean Connery was offered the role of Robert Elliott by Brian De Palma, and was enthusiastic about it, but declined on account of previously acquired commitments. They would later work together on THE UNTOUCHABLES in 1987, for which Connery would win an Academy Award.

> The USELESS KNOWLEDGE portion of this article was sourced from Wikipedia and IMDB.

Posted by J. Bryant

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