Taglines: You can’t believe everything you see.
Jake Scully comes home to find his girlfriend with another man and has to find a new place. In between his acting workshops and his job in a vampire B-movie, he scans the paper looking for anything. He happens to meet Sam Bouchard, a fellow actor who needs a house sitter. Both are pleased with the arrangement that will have Jake staying in the house and for a sweetener, Sam shows him his favorite neighbor, a well-built woman who strips with her window open each night.
Jake becomes obsessed with meeting her and is able to help recover her purse from a thief, but shows his own phobia, he is incapacitated by claustrophobia when the thief runs through a tunnel. When Jake witnesses a murder, he finds out that the police love to pin crimes on peeping Toms. Jake discovers that here are just too many coincidences but must hunt them down himself without the police.
Body Double is a 1984 American erotic thriller-horror film co-written and directed by Brian De Palma and starring Craig Wasson, Gregg Henry, Melanie Griffith, and Deborah Shelton. The original musical score was composed by Pino Donaggio. The film was a direct homage to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, specifically Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958), taking plot lines and themes (such as voyeurism and obsession) from both of them.
About the Story
Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who has lost his role as a vampire in a low-budget horror movie after his claustrophobia thwarts shooting. After returning home to discover his girlfriend cheating on him, he is left without a place to stay. At a method acting class he meets Sam (Gregg Henry) who closely monitors Scully’s revelation of his fears and the childhood cause of his claustrophobia. They go to a bar where Scully is offered a place to stay; Sam’s friend has left town temporarily and needs a house-sitter for his ultra-modern home in the Hollywood Hills.
During the tour of the house with Scully, Sam is especially ecstatic about one feature: a female neighbor, Gloria Revelle (Deborah Shelton), who erotically dances at a specific time each night. Sam has even set up a telescope which Scully cannot resist using voyeuristically to watch her. One night he sees Gloria being abused by a boyfriend. When she goes shopping the next day, Scully decides to follow her. Gloria makes calls to an unknown person promising to meet them. Scully also notices a disfigured “Indian,” a man he had noticed watching Gloria a few days prior. Scully follows her to a seaside motel where apparently Gloria has been stood up by the person she was there to meet.
On the beach the Indian suddenly snatches her purse. Scully tries to pursue him but in a nearby tunnel his claustrophobia restrains him and Gloria walks him out of it. They begin to impulsively and passionately kiss before she retreats. That night Scully is again watching through the telescope when the Indian returns. The man is seen breaking into Gloria’s home. Scully races to save her but is attacked by Gloria’s vicious dog. Gloria is brutally murdered by the Indian with a huge handheld drill.
Scully is then left to alert the police, who assume it was simply a fumbled robbery. Detective McLean (Guy Boyd), however, becomes suspicious of him after finding a pair of Gloria’s panties in his pocket. Although McLean doesn’t arrest him, he coldly tells Scully that due to his voyeuristic behavior, as well as not alerting the police sooner, is what helped caused Gloria’s murder.
Unable to sleep, Scully watches a pornography channel on television when he observes that the actress on screen, Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), dances in exactly the same sensual way that he saw Gloria dance. Now suspicious of Holly, he pretends to be a porn producer hiring for a new film so that he can meet Holly. In the process, he even ends up acting in a hardcore film himself.
Body Double (1984)
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Starring: Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry, Deborah Shelton, Guy Boyd, Dennis Franz, Rebecca Stanley, Lane Davies, Barbara Crampton
Screenplay by: Robert J. Avrech, Brian De Palma
Production Design by: Ida Random
Cinematography by: Stephen H. Burum
Film Editing by: Gerald B. Greenberg, Bill Pankow
Costume Design by: Gloria Gresham
Set Decoration by: Cloudia Rebar
Art Direction by: William A. Elliott
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: October 26, 1984