CRITIC GOES IN DEPTH ON DRESSED TO KILL
John Kenneth Muir, author of Horror Films Of The 1970s and Horror Films Of The 1980s, has posted an in-depth look at Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, which opened in theaters on this day in 1980. Muir considers Dressed To Kill "a filmed 'dare' of sorts; one that nastily, brazenly, grotesquely 'creeps up' to the edge of social responsibility and acceptability, but then — finally — backs away with a tease and a knowing wink." Muir breaks down the themes running through Dressed To Kill, and in the following excerpt, also delves into its intertextual associations (although he does not mention the film's allusions to Bunuel):
Again, De Palma finds ways to honor his cherished source material. The film opens in a shower (since Psycho’s most famous sequence occurred there…) but then builds to a fever pitch in another distinctive enclosure: an elevator. By starting with Angie Dickinson in the shower, however, Dressed to Kill essentially states that it is beginning where Psycho left off. It’s the next step. (And Fincher’s Fight Club  is the next iteration of the schizoid, but that’s a post for another day…)
Dressed to Kill not only quotes from Psycho, but also the Italian giallo tradition. Here we have a film with a mystery component, an operatic score, excessive blood letting, and flamboyant camera movements. Where have you seen that alchemical equation before, Bava or Argento fans? Hitchcock wasn’t able to produce Psycho in color, but De Palma makes the most of this advance in movie technology. He uses garish, bright colors in symbolic, effective fashion here. In the elevator death scene, for instance, Angie Dickinson is garbed head-to-toe in immaculate white, a color which is soon spoiled by her spilled blood during the razor attack. The red-against-white image is powerful in almost a primal way, and it works thematically (as in giallo tradition); suggesting the loss of Kate Miller’s “purity” after the marriage-wrecking affair.