Dressed to Kill appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, the transfer satisfied.
Softness was the only minor issue, and I suspect that those concerns resulted from the original photography. The film opted for a semi-gauzy look at times that left more than a few slightly soft shots. These weren’t dominant, though, and the movie usually came across as reasonably detailed and accurate. Jaggies and moiré effects didn’t become a factor, and I noticed no edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I noticed a couple of small specks but nothing more.
In terms of colors, the gauzy look affected those as well. This was a movie with a diffuse look, so don’t expect vibrant hues. Nonetheless, the tones seemed fine within the stylistic choices. Black levels also seemed to be fairly rich and deep, while shadow detail was usually find; a couple of shots were a smidgen thick, but most demonstrated good clarity. I thought the Blu-ray offered a pretty good reproduction of the original material.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it opened up matters fairly well. I couldn’t establish the movie’s original mix, but I suspect it was monaural in 1980. The remix managed to recreate the audio in a satisfying and surprisingly natural manner. We got a lot of general ambience as well as good stereo music. The surrounds featured a reasonable amount of information and even some split material at times. Some of these elements could be a little distracting, but they usually gave the movie a good sense of place.
Audio quality worked fine given its age. Music was rich and full, while effects showed reasonable clarity; those elements didn’t have a lot of punch but they seemed pretty accurate. Speech was a bit reedy but remained acceptably natural and intelligible. This was a nice remix.
When we head to the set’s extras, we open with a documentary simply called The Making of Dressed to Kill. It goes for 43 minutes, 51 seconds and provides notes from screenwriter/director Brian De Palma, producer George Litto, editor Jerry Greenberg, and actors Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and Keith Gordon. The show looks at the story and characters, the movie’s roots and development, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, photography and editing, effects, costumes, and thoughts about the final product.
“Making” gives us a tight, informative take on the film. It hits most of the right notes and does so in a concise, enjoyable manner. I wish it’d been a little longer, but I can’t complain, as it delivers a nice overview of the production.
The Blu-ray provides an unrated version of Dressed to Kill, and the next featurette lets us see other permutations – well, parts of them, at least. Unrated, “R”-rated and TV-rated Comparison lasts five minutes, 14 seconds as it alternates between split-screen comparison between the unrated and “R”-rated versions and fullscreen glimpses of the TV cut. (Dialogue scenes compare “R” and unrated on their own.) These are a lot of fun to inspect.
Next comes a featurette called Slashing Dressed to Kill. It runs nine minutes, 49 seconds and includes notes from De Palma, Allen, Gordon, Greenberg, Litto, and Dickinson. We get a look at the changes made for the “R”-rated cut and issues connected to the film’s editing and rating; it also touches on some controversies. This seems a little redundant after the prior two pieces, but it still has some interesting moments. The attempts to defend De Palma’s “borrowing” from Hitchcock seem disingenuous, though; in Kill, he does way more than just use some of the same themes.
For the final featurette, we get the six-minute, six-second An Appreciation by Keith Gordon. In this, the actor conveys his thoughts about aspects of the movie’s technical elements. Though Gordon doesn’t make me like the flick better, I think he throws out some useful insights.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find an Animated Photo Gallery. It fills six minutes, 13 seconds with a variety of pictures from the shoot. I’m not wild about the format – or the SD-DVD quality of the images – but we still get a decent collection of snaps.
Anyone who wants to brand Brian De Palma as a shameless Hitchcock thief will find ample evidence from 1980's Dressed to Kill. The movie provides a laundry list of elements taken from Hitchcock flicks but never creates its own personality – or much tension or drama. The Blu-ray delivers pretty good picture and audio as well as a fairly interesting set of supplements. I think the Blu-ray offers a nice package but the movie leaves me cold.