review for Dressed to Kill on AllMovie

Dressed to Kill (1980)
by Keith Phipps review

Just as Brian De Palma's Obsession rewrote Vertigo, Dressed To Kill rewrites Psycho. This time out, however, De Palma displays far more wit in an overhaul enjoyable for even those less immersed in Hitchcockiana than himself. Criticized for its sadism, the film might more accurately be described as an exploration of the sadism already implicit in Hitchcock's work, particularly in a bravura opening sequence featuring Angie Dickinson. Of course, how easily viewers let De Palma off the hook will depend on how literally they take the whole exercise. Certainly decades of advancement in gay rights date certain aspects of the film. But with De Palma it's best never to underestimate the satirical element, and here he combines his biting humor with some of the most thrilling suspense sequences of his career. It's a delicate balance that can produce such misfires as Body Double but when done right makes for a pretty thrilling ride.