Dressed to Kill at 40: Brian De Palma’s thrilling yet problematic shocker

The director’s stylish Psycho homage remains a thrill yet continues to face accusations of misogyny and transphobiaThe distance between Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill and its source of inspiration, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, is 20 years.

The distance between Dressed to Kill and now is 40 years.

Those numbers seem impossible in certain respects: the sensory overload of De Palma’s thriller – with its explicitness and gore and vibrant colors – feels much more modern, as do the performances, which have a naturalistic quality that hadn’t completely asserted itself in 1960.

And yet the film is also disconcertingly retrograde, tied to ideas of violent gender dysphoria that haven’t advanced an inch from the psychiatrist who explains Norman Bates’s behavior at the end of Psycho.Related: Psycho at 60: the enduring power of Hitchcock’s shocking game-changer

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