Body Double (1984)
It’s been a log while since I’ve seen Brian De Palma’s erotic thriller homage to Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Vertigo and I barely remember much of it at all to be honest. Except one memorable scene, one that features 80s new wave band, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their biggest hit, “Relax.”
Once I grew up some and realized what “Relax” was really about it became both a better song (for it’s honesty) and a tongue-in-cheek joke (also because of it’s honesty). It’s still a great 80s tune and it always makes me laugh hearing it. I tend to think that despite it’s huge homoerotic overtones the band didn’t take it too seriously that much. Sure it became a huge gay anthem but seeing how they had those “Frankie Says…” T-Shirts and how they acted in the videos for it as well as the scene in Body Double that they just wanted it to be as much fun as possible. No real agenda or message other than to “Relax. Don’t do it. When you want to go to it. When you want to come.”
I went through a huge De Palma phase about 10 years ago thanks to fellow schlocker Jim, who let me borrow his extensive collection of De Palma classics and I really enjoyed his brand of sleazy schlocky Hitchcockian homages. Up until then I only have seen Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way and Mission: Impossible, so this was a lot of new material from one of the more interesting “Movie Brat” directors. In a word, all his films are a lot of fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously really. Although his editing style is top-notch in his earlier flicks. It’s a shame he lost his knack for making interesting, unconventional films because he had a great style. If he had made better films or was taken more seriously people would be talking about De Palma the way they are talking about Tarantino today.
But this scene with “Relax” is both funny and sexy as well as uncomfortable and bold for an early 80s movie. Our hero of the film played by Bill Maher-lookalike Craig Wasson wanders into a porn shoot while Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson escorts him around while Wasson looks very timid and nervous. I find it funny how they decided to dress Wasson up looking like a total dweeb considering the location he’s at. If memory serves, Wasson didn’t even dress like that throughout the whole film. I also like the quick slap in the back of the head Holly Johnson gives to some leather-clad biker as he’s walking down the stairs. And yes, that’s a young Melanie Griffith wearing ass-less chaps seducing Wasson. Like I said, it’s sleazy and seedy and it’s all in good 80s decadent fun. Reminds me to go watch it again.
Remember, just “Relax. Don’t do it. When you want to go to it. When you want to come.”