Brian De Palma David Denby - Essay

David Denby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Dressed to Kill] is the first great American movie of the eighties. Violent, erotic, and wickedly funny, Dressed to Kill is propelled forward by scenes so juicily sensational that they pass over into absurdity. De Palma releases terror in laughter: Even at his most outrageous, Hitchcock could not have been as entertaining as this.

For the easily frightened moviegoer, De Palma's flamboyance is reassuringly "cinematic": You can see that he's using film techniques and tricks to get at unconscious fears and to extend the lyrical possibilities of violence, and you admire his sadistic virtuosity even as he's manipulating you unconscionably. As in such past De Palma thrillers as...

(The entire section is 580 words.)