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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Dressed to Kill (Unrated Cut) [Blu-ray]

 

(Brian De Palma, 1980)

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  LEFT vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Filmways Pictures, Inc.

Video: MGM / Arrow Films

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! Region 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:00.961 1:45:00.794

Disc Size: 38,191,459,463 bytes /49,380,544,752 bytes

Feature Size: 33,342,259,200 bytes /33,786,230,784 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.01 Mbps /36.99 Mbps

Chapters: 16 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September 6th, 2011 / July 29th, 2013

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3957 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3957 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2021 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2021 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

The Making of Dressed to Kill Documentary Including Interviews with Brian De Palma, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and More! (43:51 in 480i)
Unrated, R-Rated and TV-Rated Comparison Featurette (5:14 in 480i)
Slashing Dressed to Kill Featurette (9:50 in 480i)
An Appreciation by Keith Gordon Featurette (6:06 in 480i)
Animated Photo Gallery
Theatrical Trailer (2:10 in 1080P)

Symphony of Fear: Producer George Litto discusses his working relationship with Brian De Palma (17:36)
Dressed in White: Star Angie Dickinson on her role in the film (29:53)
Dressed in Purple: Star Nancy Allen discusses her role in the film (23:04)
Lessons in Filmmaking: Actor Keith Gordon discusses Dressed to Kill (40:46)
The Making of a Thriller - a documentary on the making of Dressed to Kill featuring writer-director Brian De Palma, George Litto, stars Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and more! (43:53)
• Unrated, R-Rated, and TV-Rated Comparison Featurette (5:14)
Slashing Dressed to Kill Brian De Palma and stars Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon discuss the changes that had to be made to avoid an X-rating (9:49)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (2:10)
• Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanel Marsh
• 36-page Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Maitland McDonagh, illustrated with original archive stills and promotional material

 

Bitrate:

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

Description: Writer-director Brian De Palma “maintains a fever pitch from start to finish” (Leonard Maltin) with this “steamily libidinous and extremely bloody thriller” (Newsweek)! Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen (in a Golden GlobeŽ-nominated performance), this taut psycho-sexual chiller is a razor-sharp tale of passion, madness and murder that’s as “scary as the devil [with] suspense to spare” (Playboy)!

Fashionable Manhattan therapist Dr. Robert Elliott (Caine) faces the most terrifying moment of his life, when a psychotic killer begins attacking the women (Dickinson and Allen) in his life— with a straight razor stolen from his office. Desperate to find the murderer before anyone else is hurt, Elliott is soon drawn into a dark and disturbing world of chilling desires. And as the doctor edges closer to the terrible truth, he finds himself lost in a provocative and deadly maze of obsession, deviance and deceit— where the most harmless erotic fantasies…can become the most deadly sexual nightmares!

 

 

The Film:

Because fetishizing requires the dislocation and amplification of objects from their surroundings, a quick rundown of the formal dildos and vibrating bullets on De Palma's kink counter: creamy, coordinated couture, complete with sonically active jewelry and heels; razor fixation (reminiscent of Argento, though predating the astonishing moment when blaze meets bulb in Tenebre); manhole steam illuminated by porn shops' traveling marquee lights; the sighs of a masturbating woman merging with the prurient bloom of Pino Donaggio's best score (even if De Palma probably wanted something closer to his former collaborator Bernard Herrmann's score from Taxi Driver); the choreography of the Phil Donohue split-screen, with exactingly timed parallel turns; "What's the going rate on running red lights?"; a jerry-rigged time-lapse camera hidden in a shoebox; the way the trannie psycho's name Bobbi is spelled; the fact that it's the only one of De Palma's "red period" films whose palate is overwhelmingly blue.

Excerpt from Eric Henderson at Slant Magazine located HERE

The movie owes a great deal to Hitchcock, perhaps too much for one to be able to judge it entirely on its own merits. It's possible that if one is a Hitchcock student, with a special knowledge of Psycho and Vertigo, one will resent all of the so-called quotes and references that Mr. De Palma includes in Dressed to Kill. But that, I think, is to underrate what the writer-director has pulled off in this case, which is not an imitation but a film made by someone who has studied the master and learned, in addition to style, something far more important, that is, a consistent point of view. Among other things, the De Palma camera appears to have an intelligence of its own.

Excerpt from Vincent Canby's review at The NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I guess we can assume that Dressed to Kill can only look so good in digital. The previous DVDs had the same soft-focus look as this new MGM Blu-ray. The 80's had some pretty unremarkable film stocks but the director's early films frequently seems to look this way. De Palma's Body Double had the same visual style (ditto for Obsession and Sisters - maybe Blow Out the exception?) - frequently looking kind of faded and smokey. Noise still exists although to a lesser degree. The image quality is fairly thick and grainy. It never achieves a glossy, pristine appearance and this is probably very accurate to the theatrical. I thought it was consistent and looked fine although no depth or overly vibrant colors exist - except possibly the blood streaks and splatters.

The transfer are quite similar technically - Arrow has a small advantage. The only difference seems to be that the Arrow is marginally brighter. It has the same smokey, film-like appearance and without prior knowledge I'd be hard-pressed to chose one over the other although the region 'B' might be a bit dirtier. The Arrow may appear a notch sharper, due to the brighter visuals, but I'm uncertain as to which is more theatrically accurate. Colors on the MGM may be a minutely richer - skin tones cooler on the UK release - but again this is minor and most viewers systems would have difficulty identifying this to the degree that it would matter when watching the film. This looks like a great transfer to me - faithful and without notable flaws of any kind.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Audio gets a bold DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3957 kbps. It sounds strong and this would be highly notable in Pino Donaggio's score - often reminiscent of Herrmann. Like many thing De Palma - it is somewhat over the top and it runs in ebbs and flows beside the building tensions. There are some subtleties in the separation and depth is always there when called upon. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

As well as a 5.1 bump (similar but not as robust as the MGM), the Arrow includes a linear PCM of the original mono at 1536 kbps. It's nice to have the option. I didn't notice much of a difference in the surround regarding Pino Donaggio's powerful score. The LPCM is predicatbly flatter but authentic and there are optional English (SDH) subtitles on the region 'B'-locked disc.

 

Extras :

Supplements appear to duplicate the previous SE DVD from a decade ago. It has the substantial "The Making of Dressed to Kill" which includes interviews with De Palma, Dickinson, Allen, the producer George Litto, and more you mention their most notable memories of the production. There are the two separate featurettes that deal with the specific censorship aspects of the three versions (unrated, R, and Network TV cut) and the MPAA rating and blown-out media hype it obtained. Keith Gordon's 6-minute appreciation is till here, and an animated gallery and theatrical trailer - now in HD.

Arrow add four of the excellent Fiction Factory documentaries by Robert Fischer about Dressed to Kill. Symphony of Fear spends 17-minutes with producer George Litto discussing his working relationship with Brian De Palma and the director’s skillful way of creating suspense. Dressed in White is 1/2 hour with star Angie Dickinson on her role in the film scene by scene and why she was chosen to play Kate Miller. Dressed in Purple has 23-minutes with star Nancy Allen taking the viewer back to the shooting of Brian De Palma’s film DRESSED TO KILL and talks about her character, Liz, the costumes designed by Ann Roth, and her co-stars Angie Dickinson, Keith Gordon and Michael Caine. Lessons in Filmmaking has 40-minutes with actor Keith Gordon (also director of films like A MIDNIGHT CLEAR and THE SINGING DETECTIVE and TV shows like WILD PALMS and DEXTER), remembering his days as a very young actor for Brian De Palma and how participating in the movie DRESSED TO KILL turned for him into invaluable lessons on filmmaking. The Making of a Thriller is the same documentary as on the MGM - the making of Dressed to Kill featuring writer-director Brian De Palma, George Litto, stars Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz running almost 3/4 of an hour. We also get the 5-minute Unrated, R-Rated Comparison featurette that is alo on the MGM Blu-ray. Slashing Dressed to Kill has 10-minutes with Brian De Palma and stars Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon discussing the changes that had to be made to avoid an X-rating. We also get the original theatrical trailer. The package itself has a wonderful reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanel Marsh and there are liner notes - a 36-page Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Maitland McDonagh, illustrated with original archive stills and promotional material.

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Dressed to Kill still works in its own way. More an homage to the Master than direct theft - although an easy case could be made for the latter. The sexuality is surprising even after 30 years. The soft-focus look isn't the biggest beneficiary to the 1080P transfer but removing some of the noise and adding grain is a definite bonus via Blu-ray. I doubt we're going to see it looking any better and this title still has appeal - especially at the offered price.

What an amazing package from Arrow! With all the great digital supplements, artwork and liner notes easily make it the definitive version to own. Going through these extras continues putting the film in a unique category of suspense and Hitch homage. It never seems to get old - even when you know the plot so well. Surely the sign of a competent filmmaker. Absolutely recommended!

Gary Tooze

September 1st, 2011

July 4th, 2013

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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