(1984)3.5John L. MessinaDuring the early '80s, director Brian De Palma updated Alfred Hitchcock in three movies. Of De Palma's three homages, Body Double is easily the weakest. It does not consistently maintain suspense the way Dressed to Kill and Blow Out do, and the scheme at the center of its plot is wholly unbelievable. De Palma borrows liberally from Hitchcock to assemble this thriller. The "hero," creepy struggling actor Jake Scully, suffers from claustrophobia (similar to the dizziness in Vertigo) and spies on a sexy neighbor (as in Rear Window). As the plot unfolds, it further resembles Vertigo, with the distinction that it is nowhere near as believable. The villain's scheme is particularly unlikely. It would be nearly impossible for him to anticipate all he must anticipate to pull it off, and anyone as clever as this villain would have recognized that and settled on a less convoluted scheme. It might have been more difficult to discern the many plot holes had De Palma maintained the suspense, but Body Double has a very uneven flow. Some scenes work, others seem drawn out and utterly lacking in tension. The concluding scenes, unfortunately, fit into this latter category. In updating Hitchcock, De Palma does a good job in exploring matters the "master of suspense" could not explicitly tackle in his day, such as the grotesque and the pornographic. But Body Double seems too much a product of its era, with one sequence amounting to little more than a music video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax." As Scully, Craig Wasson seems bland for someone who is supposedly such a pervert. In her breakthrough role as Holly the porn star, Melanie Griffith makes her character very human, especially in a strangely touching scene where she describes what she will and will not do in a porno film.