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Body Double Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Sony Pictures Twilight Time

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#1 of 44 Richard Gallagher

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Posted August 15 2013 - 05:38 PM

Body Double Blu-ray Review

Brian De Palma's thriller Body Double is a lurid, violent, perplexing, mesmerizing and sometimes infuriating train wreck of a film. As New York Times critic Vincent Canby observed, "Brian De Palma goes too far, which may be not only the most consistent quality through all his films but also the most important and, possibly, the most endearing. Each of his films is guaranteed to offend some of the people all of the time, including his staunchest admirers. He never leaves well enough alone." De Palma clearly was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, and Body Double is an homage to both Rear Window and Vertigo. It is stylishly directed, beautifully photographed, and well-acted. Whether those positive attributes outweigh the film's outlandish implausibilities may be a matter of taste. Like a train wreck, it is often difficult to look at it but it is nearly impossible to turn away from.


Cover Art


Studio: Sony

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 54 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 08/13/2013

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 3.5/5

Brian De Palma's thriller Body Double is a lurid, violent, perplexing, mesmerizing and sometimes infuriating train wreck of a film. As New York Times critic Vincent Canby observed, "Brian De Palma goes too far, which may be not only the most consistent quality through all his films but also the most important and, possibly, the most endearing. Each of his films is guaranteed to offend some of the people all of the time, including his staunchest admirers. He never leaves well enough alone." De Palma clearly was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, and Body Double is an homage to both Rear Window and Vertigo. It is stylishly directed, beautifully photographed, and well-acted. Whether those positive attributes outweigh the film's outlandish implausibilities may be a matter of taste. Like a train wreck, it is often difficult to look at it but it is nearly impossible to turn away from.

Body Double opens with Hollywood actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) filming a scene as a vampire in a low budget horror film being directed by Rubin (Dennis Franz). In a key scene, Jack is in a coffin and he suddenly freezes up, unable to move. The filming has to stop and then a fire breaks out on the set, so Jake is sent home for the day. He lives with his girlfriend in her apartment, but on this day he gets home early and surprises her while she is in bed with another man. By evening Jake is out on his own, looking for a place to crash. A friendly bartender lets him sleep on his couch at the Hollywood Tower, and the next day Jake responds to an ad in one of the trades for an interview with the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival. While there he runs into an actor friend and inquires about available sublets. That conversation is overheard by Sam Bouchard (Gregg Henry), who also is looking for a part. Later in the day Jake runs into Sam at acting class, and after a particularly difficult session with the teacher they go out for drinks.

Sam then tells Jake that he may have a temporary solution for his housing problem. It seems that Sam has a wealthy friend who owns a beautiful, futuristic house and who is away in Europe. Sam has been housesitting, but he has just landed an acting gig in Seattle and needs someone to watch the house and water the plants. While showing the house to Jake, Sam points out a very special feature, a telescope which he uses to watch his "favorite neighbor," a gorgeous female exhibitionist (Deborah Shelton) who dances nearly naked in an apartment across the street from the house. "Does she do this a lot?" asks Jake. Sam assures him, "Like clockwork, every night."

Things begin a get dicey later that night when Jake decides to take another look. He sees the outline of a man in the woman's apartment, apparently taking things from a wall safe while she sleeps. She wakes up, they have an argument, and he strikes her before leaving. The next day Jake learns that he has lost his job as the vampire in the horror flick, and that evening he returns to the telescope. This time he notices that he is not the only person looking at the beautiful neighbor. A man in a hard hat who appears to be a native American is watching the woman's act while ostensibly working on a satellite dish - the "big ugly dish" type (this is 1984, remember). This development unnerves Jack, and it only gets worse the next day when he notices the "Indian" (as he is referred to throughout the film) following the woman. Jake tails them to an upscale shopping center on Rodeo Drive, where it becomes evident that he is becoming obsessed with her (we eventually learn that her name is Gloria Revelle).

It is difficult to reveal any more of the plot without spoiling it, so I will just add that developments become more intense as Jake's obsession increases. I have not yet mentioned co-star Melanie Griffith because her character, porn actress Holly Body, does not make her first appearance until 2/3 of the way into the film. This is so despite that fact that Holly turns out to be a key player in the events which are unfolding. At times it is not entirely clear exactly what is going on - at one point while Jake is following Gloria she goes into a fashionable boutique and tries on a pair of pricey panties, all while conveniently leaving the curtain of the dressing room partly open so he can watch from outside the store. Would any upscale women's shop have such a setup? Even more implausible is an encounter which Jake and Gloria have which seems to be in the film only to give director De Palma an opportunity to emulate Hitchcock's Vertigo.

Craig Wasson does a fine job as Jake, although it is impossible to feel much empathy for the character because he is mostly ordinary and clueless. His plan to meet Holly is so far-fetched that it is difficult to see how it could have taken place in real life. Melanie Griffith is superb as Holly, a punk-haired blonde porno star who knows exactly what she is doing and makes sure that she works on her own terms. Griffith credits De Palma for helping her to get her subsequent parts in Something Wild and Working Girl. Deborah Shelton is strikingly beautiful as Gloria and Gregg Henry is excellent as Sam.

Watching a train wreck can be fascinating, but afterward you want to try to make some sense of what you have seen. Some of the film is meant to be confusing, deliberate directorial misdirection to keep the audience puzzled. However, the more you think about Body Double, the more apparent the plot holes become and the more you get the feeling that the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The other consideration is that this is a film about a voyeur, and many people who watch may feel that viewing Body Double is in itself a voyeuristic experience. Still, there is much to like about it. The film is strikingly visual (one of the most memorable scenes is what could be called a pornographic music video) and it is one which will have you thinking about long after the most unusual closing credits. One caveat is that viewers who disapprove of nudity will find a lot to disapprove of here.

At this point in a review I would normally include a link to Screen Archives Entertainment, but Body Double was sold out before its release date. There are roughly 20 copies for sale on eBay, and the lowest selling price I have seen thus far is $58.02. A link to Amazon can be found at the bottom of this review, but the asking price is astronomical.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

The 1080p 1.85:1 image utilizes the AVC codec and is absolutely stunning. The image is spotless and very sharp, while retaining an appropriate level of film grain to deliver a totally satisfying film-like appearance. Colors are vivid and accurate, black levels are solid and shadow detail is excellent. The film was beautifully shot by cinematographer Stephen J. Burum on some iconic locations in Hollywood. I am confident that Twilight Time and Sony have teamed up to produce the best possible presentation of Body Double.



Audio Rating: 5/5

The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is outstanding in every respect. Dialogue is mostly delivered through the center channel and is clear and intelligible throughout. The surround channels are used primarily to give Pino Donaggio's evocative and powerful music a wide and pleasing soundstage. Director De Palma knows how to use music to give the audience an extra measure of shockt. As with all Twilight Time releases, the wonderful score can be heard as an isolated track (the soundtrack includes "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood).



Special Features Rating: 4/5

In addition to the isolated score track, for this Blu-ray presentation of Body Double Twilight Time has ported over the four featurettes which are on the Special Edition DVD. All appear in their original 4:3 aspect ratio.

"The Seduction" gives director De Palma the opportunity to talk about how he conceived the story, which originally was to be set in New York City. There is an amusing part where he talks about hiring a real pornographic star (he probably is referring to Linda Shaw, who does have a small part in the film) to do most of the nude scenes. However, the actress could not get the knack of doing the dancing satisfactorily, so Melanie Griffith ended up doing her own nude scenes. De Palma talks about casting the principal parts and most of those actors get a chance to talk about the experience. This featurette runs for approximately 17 minutes.

"The Setup" has De Palma explaining the various approaches he takes to setting up scenes when he makes a film. He talks about locations, costuming, choreographing action, choosing camera angles, etc., and the actors praise his attention to detail. This featurette also runs for approximately 17 minutes.

"The Mystery" discusses how the mysterious story unfolds and the various techniques which are used to create puzzlement and enhance the suspense. This featurette has a running time of approximately 12 minutes.

"The Controversy" covers much of the criticism which De Palma and his film received when it was released. "Body Double was attacked like no movie of mine, ever," says the director. He was accused of being a misogynist, ripping off Hitchcock, being excessively violent, and so on. De Palma feels that over time he has been vindicated, pointing out that Body Double and Scarface remain his two most popular films, notwithstanding that fact that both were reviled by many critics when they were released. This featurette has a running time of approximately five minutes, not including its credits.

As usual, Twilight Time has included an informative and entertaining booklet containing a provocative essay by Julie Kirgo ("Does anyone try on panties?" she asks, a question which I would not feel qualified to pose). Next month's Twilight Time releases are Drums Along the Mohawk and Alamo Bay.



Overall Rating: 4/5

As I wrote in the opening of this review, Body Double is a lurid, violent, perplexing, mesmerizing and sometimes infuriating train wreck of a film. It certainly is a memorable movie, however. I have tried my best to lay out the good, the bad and the ugly of Body Double so that anyone who is able to find a copy will know just what to expect.


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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#2 of 44 theonemacduff

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Posted August 15 2013 - 07:04 PM

I'm beginning to hate Twilight Time.Very pricey, and the licensing deal ensures that once the run is sold, there will be no more, and the prices go even higher. It's really an invitation for some to gouge others, witness the high prices on eBay for this particular disc. And it's a mystery why this one was even licensed to Twilight Time when it's clearly the kind of film that, with a little bit of marketing, could have sold many more units as a regular studio release. 



#3 of 44 Richard Gallagher

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Posted August 15 2013 - 07:50 PM

I have no special insight into the business plans of Twilight Time, Sony, and Fox, but obviously all three companies have concluded that the limited edition approach is the way to go for these titles.

 

Twilight Time has issued 46 Blu-ray titles in the past two years, 8 of which have sold 3,000 copies.That means that 82% of their catalog has not sold out, which tells me that it does not make financial sense for them to press more than 3,000 copies. They might sell 4,000 copies of Body Double, but would they ever sell 4,000 copies of Desiree?

 

As for the pricing, a bit of arithmetic tells the story. At $29.95, 3000 copies of Body Double brought in $89,850. If they cut the price in half, they would have to sell 6,000 copies to generate the same total receipts. But it costs more to manufacture and distribute 6,000 copies than it costs to manufacture 3,000 copies, so they would actually lose money by selling more.


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#4 of 44 schan1269

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Posted August 15 2013 - 07:54 PM

I'll wait for the furor to die down on this one. Seriously though?

 

I doubt they sell 2500 of these. In 6 months you'll see $9.99.



#5 of 44 SD_Brian

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Posted August 15 2013 - 08:24 PM

I'll wait for the furor to die down on this one. Seriously though?

 

I doubt they sell 2500 of these. In 6 months you'll see $9.99.

3,000 were sold out well before the street date.  The eBay gouging has already begun.



#6 of 44 JohnMor

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Posted August 15 2013 - 09:02 PM

I'll wait for the furor to die down on this one. Seriously though?

 

I doubt they sell 2500 of these. In 6 months you'll see $9.99.

 

??? Which in-print or sold-out Twilight Time releases are selling for less than their initial price?



#7 of 44 Richard Gallagher

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Posted August 15 2013 - 09:15 PM

??? Which in-print or sold-out Twilight Time releases are selling for less than their initial price?

 

None that I'm aware of, although I certainly haven't checked all of them.

 

Never underestimate the ignorance of the average consumer. An Amazon dealer has the Twilight Time Blu-ray of Desiree priced at $55.79 even though it is still available from Screen Archives Entertainment for $29.95.

 

Nobody is giving the Twilight Time Blu-rays away.


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#8 of 44 Walter Kittel

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Posted August 15 2013 - 09:39 PM

I don't begrudge Twilight Time their business, but I wish they had a clause in their licensing and a procedure in place to print additional copies when a title sells out.   It would be nice if folks who missed out on the initial run were able to purchase the titles at the Twilight Time price point.

 

Edit:  Just checked Amazon and it (Body Double) is going for $96 to $135 which is frankly a ridiculous amount of money.

 

- Walter.


Edited by Walter Kittel, August 15 2013 - 09:48 PM.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#9 of 44 rayman1701

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Posted August 15 2013 - 09:53 PM

This has always been a favorite of mine, I watched it so many times on the Movie Channel as a kid in the 80s. For some reason just never got around to getting the DVD, so the blu-ray was definitely worth the wait. Plus after so many viewings, having a bit of time since I'd last watched it made it all the more fun. I was also surprised that this went as a TT release, as I figured there was a big enough audience. There are sometimes a few head scratchers as to what gets a limited release and what goes mass market. I thought the same thing with Christine as well.

\m/︶︿︶)\m/


#10 of 44 Keith Cobby

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Posted August 16 2013 - 12:30 AM

Thanks for the review Richard, I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality. I am pleased that TT have sold out of another blu-ray title. Their business model works for me. I wish Warners would licence some of their classic titles (musicals/film noir) to them.



#11 of 44 Radioman970

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Posted August 16 2013 - 02:41 AM

Love the film, but this isn't a good way to sell me one.  I'll pass.  I have a DVD. 

 

Now, if this was $20 in a blu ray double with Dressed to Kill they'd sell me one today.  How about that model...?  ;)


Edited by Radioman970, August 16 2013 - 02:44 AM.

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#12 of 44 schan1269

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Posted August 16 2013 - 04:29 AM

Just because a title sells out, does not mean "all those that want it, bought it".

 

I've bought many a TT BD title on Ebay for <$15.

 

Give it 6 months and I'm sure the price will deflate to a real price. This hasn't, yet, affected the price of the DVD. If the price of the DVD starts to go up, then you know the market on the BD is full. Prices fell on the DVD when the BD was announced. They haven't recovered. 



#13 of 44 schan1269

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Posted August 16 2013 - 04:56 AM

By the way, Sexy Beast didn't exactly light a fire in sales...

 

The only two truly egregious ones that "why Twilight got them" were Christine and As Good as it Gets.



#14 of 44 BPullen

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Posted August 16 2013 - 06:41 AM

I have no special insight into the business plans of Twilight Time, Sony, and Fox, but obviously all three companies have concluded that the limited edition approach is the way to go for these titles.

 

Twilight Time has issued 46 Blu-ray titles in the past two years, 8 of which have sold 3,000 copies.That means that 82% of their catalog has not sold out, which tells me that it does not make financial sense for them to press more than 3,000 copies. They might sell 4,000 copies of Body Double, but would they ever sell 4,000 copies of Desiree?

 

As for the pricing, a bit of arithmetic tells the story. At $29.95, 3000 copies of Body Double brought in $89,850. If they cut the price in half, they would have to sell 6,000 copies to generate the same total receipts. But it costs more to manufacture and distribute 6,000 copies than it costs to manufacture 3,000 copies, so they would actually lose money by selling more.

For a small third party trying to free titles the studios would otherwise keep, the magazine rate is across the board and for the most part very effective. As Richard correctly said, only 8 have soldout out of 46 Blu-Rays. 3,000 copies is the right balance for all parties concerned. Even if contingent on sellout, that would have to figured into every negotiation or be renegotiated for everything. The hassle, added expense, and increased risk would be an extra monkey on TT's back. Furthermore if the public knew their was an out clause, the rush to buy copies would decrease. "Oh they have another thousand copies, I'll wait" will permeate. You see this all the time with those who wait for 500. Multiple that by 3.

The expense of more discs, further assets, and the shadow of 4,000 copies over films that won't sell 3,000 is bad business. What Schan suggests would sink the company. If its even conceivable to begin with. One more issue, the studios want cut and dry. A pressing of an extra 1,000 discs based on random factors is the type of hassle the studios want to avoid. Too many customers don't look at it from that end.Thanks.
 


Edited by BPullen, August 16 2013 - 06:48 AM.


#15 of 44 Russell G

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Posted August 16 2013 - 08:13 AM

the problem with the 3000 limited edition model is that it doesn't work for cult titles like Christine, Body Double, Night of the Living Dead, etc. all the cult titles have sold out on pre-order leaving many fans left with nothing. They would sell more of these titles if they licensed it to Shout Factory or someone like that. Which is what my problem is with Twilight Time. they are exploiting the exploitation market to generate the income to put out the more classic or prestige titles. You look at the titles they are invested in, it's pretty clear where the broken thumbs are.

 

The next time Warners, Fox or any of the other studios tell you there is no market for their classic films or catalogue titles due to the current market situation, point them in the direction of Criterion and their 27 disc, dual format Zatoichi release that's going to sell for under $200 and then tell me that Body Double, Fright Night or Christine don't justify a run of more then 3000 titles in North America.

 

Anyway, at least they get the transfers right. It's good to hear this one came out so nice.I was lucky enough to be at a computer when the pre-sale started, so my copy arrived this week. I look forward to sitting down to it.


My wallet cries me to sleep!
 
This post kills threads!


#16 of 44 Charles Smith

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Posted August 16 2013 - 08:41 AM

*
POPULAR

Okay, no hard feelings or offense meant to anyone already posting in this thread, but...

 

Richard (and Ron and anyone else concerned):

 

Could you possibly include a prominent notice at the top of Twilight Time reviews, something to the effect that there's a thread wholly devoted to discussion about Twilight Time and its business model (and include the link), and that this review thread is for discussion about this particular film ONLY?

 

This happens in EVERY Twilight Time thread, and it's the same conversation, back and forth, every damned time.

 

Sorry.  It just finally got to me.      :)


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#17 of 44 Richard Gallagher

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Posted August 16 2013 - 12:38 PM

Okay, no hard feelings or offense meant to anyone already posting in this thread, but...

 

Richard (and Ron and anyone else concerned):

 

Could you possibly include a prominent notice at the top of Twilight Time reviews, something to the effect that there's a thread wholly devoted to discussion about Twilight Time and its business model (and include the link), and that this review thread is for discussion about this particular film ONLY?

 

This happens in EVERY Twilight Time thread, and it's the same conversation, back and forth, every damned time.

 

Sorry.  It just finally got to me.      :)

 

Charles,

 

That's a good suggestion, and I think that it is particularly appropriate when the title in question is sold out. I'll keep that in mind for the next TT review.


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#18 of 44 Richard Gallagher

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Posted August 16 2013 - 12:41 PM

The only two truly egregious ones that "why Twilight got them" were Christine and As Good as it Gets.

 

My theory - and it is only an uninformed theory - is that Sony sweetened the deal by giving Twilight Time some titles which were sure to be in high demand. I'm sure that TT wanted to be more than just a dumping ground for Blu-rays of titles which Sony and Fox don't want to issue,


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#19 of 44 JoeDoakes

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Posted August 16 2013 - 01:13 PM

Okay, no hard feelings or offense meant to anyone already posting in this thread, but...

 

Richard (and Ron and anyone else concerned):

 

Could you possibly include a prominent notice at the top of Twilight Time reviews, something to the effect that there's a thread wholly devoted to discussion about Twilight Time and its business model (and include the link), and that this review thread is for discussion about this particular film ONLY?

 

This happens in EVERY Twilight Time thread, and it's the same conversation, back and forth, every damned time.

 

Sorry.  It just finally got to me.      :)

But don't you think some titles deserve more than 3000 disks?



#20 of 44 Walter Kittel

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Posted August 16 2013 - 02:37 PM

Could you possibly include a prominent notice at the top of Twilight Time reviews, something to the effect that there's a thread wholly devoted to discussion about Twilight Time and its business model (and include the link), and that this review thread is for discussion about this particular film ONLY?

 

Point taken.  I'd love to discuss my impressions of the disc's transfer in this thread, but oh wait....  :)

 

(Just kidding around.)

 

- Walter.


Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.





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