(director/writer: Brian De Palma; screenwriters: Robert Avrech/from a story by Brian De Palma; cinematographer: Stephen Burum; editors: Jerry Greenberg/Bill Pankow; music: Pino Donaggio; cast: Craig Wasson (Jake Scully), Melanie Griffith (Holly Body), Deborah Shelton (Gloria Rovelle), Gregg Henry (Sam Bushard/Henry Rovelle), Guy Boyd (Detective McClean), Dennis Franz (Rubin); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Brian De Palma; RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video; 1984)

“Sleaze dominates the thin plot and absurd story line.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Brian De Palma (“Snake Eyes”/”Femme Fatale”/”The Black Dahlia“)shamelessly rips-off Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Rear Window and turns the Master’s suspense themes into a voyeuristic semi-porn film, one where sleaze dominates the thin plot and absurd story line. It’s co-written byDePalma and Robert Avrech, and is based on a story written by the director.

The gullible loser nice guy Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor in LA who has just been canned by indie director Rubin (Dennis Franz) from playing a vampire because he’s claustrophobic and has a panic attack while shooting a scene. Then the troubled actor is further distraught when at home finding his girlfriend in bed with another man. Jake moves out of her apartment and while looking for a flat he’s befriended by fellow struggling actor Sam Bushard (Gregg Henry), who offers him temporary residence in the luxury condo of a rich friend, that comes with a rotating bed and enough plants to stock a botanical garden, that Sam is house-sitting at but will conveniently be gone for a few weeks to make a film out-of-town. Sam alerts his eager house-sitting replacement that at midnight his sexy neighbor Gloria Rovelle (Deborah Shelton) dances in her panties and he can watch her through the binoculars, as she leaves the blinds open in her bedroom picture window. Our hero becomes protective and obsessed with Gloria and follows her when she goes to a mall during the afternoon.

We eventually learn that Sam is really Gloria’s husband and has set-up Jake to witness an Indian killing his wealthy wife with a large sized power-drill, thereby giving him a perfect alibi. Further more, we learn that for the first two nights porn star Holly (Melanie Griffith) was hired by Sam to perform those erotic dances and pretend to be Gloria, and is innocent of the murder scheme. When Gloria is murdered on Jake’s third night house-sitting, he witnesses the brutal murder but can’t save her in time.

The story makes no sense logically, but De Palma applies his usual colorful and playful stylistic ploys and plenty of sexual trappings to keep the horny male viewers aroused and fans of the director sated that the Old Dog is still up to his old tricks of winning an audience with clever treats.