September 7, 2016

VOD Review: De Palma (2016)

"A great look inside the mind of a master filmmaker."
Hitchcock, Carpenter, Romero, Craven, Cronenberg, Argento, Fulci, Bava. Those are the names that come to mind when we think of directors that not only influenced the Horror Genre, but actually created it.

You can add names like Raimi, Hooper, Dante, Miike, and Coscarelli to that list, and they'd belong, but if you do, you had better not forget about Brian De Palma.

De Palma made a few Horror Films, but he's far more famous for his more mainstream efforts like Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, and Mission: Impossible.

For us though, he's the guy that gave us the Giallo-esque, sexually-charged Dressed to Kill; the Rocky Horror-like oddity of Phantom of the Paradise; and the sleazy exploitation of Body Double. And of course as Horror fans, Carrie holds a special place in our hearts, as does The Fury.

The man can do any Genre, but he knows how to construct a Thriller better than just about anyone else. Visually, he uses split-screen, forced perspective, 360 degree pans, and crazy long tracking shots to tell his stories. He understands timing and rhythm better than most, and his work, for better or worse, has a unique feel all its own.  

He's Hollywood Royalty, but he's most definitely the black sheep of the family.

De Palma is a documentary that features the famed director sitting in front of a camera and talking about his career for nearly two hours. From his early days making Indie flicks with a pre-fame Robert De Niro, all the way through his latest effort (as of the shooting of this Doc), Passion, De Palma talks candidly about his ups and downs (both personal and professionally), and the rigors of the Hollywood Machine.

It's a pretty simple set-up, but it's all compelling as hell. 

As Documentaries go, De Palma is about as entertaining as it gets.

I've been massive fan of De Palma's since I saw Scarface when I was a wee lad, and throughout the years, his movies grabbed me in a special way. It was great to hear the man talk about how hard it was to make those movies in such a candid and easy-gong way. He seems like a nice guy that you'd want to have some beers with, which makes me love his movies even more.

He talks about how Orson Welles couldn't remember his lines to save his life; he also talks about how Robert De Niro refused to learn his lines on The Untouchables, and what a pain in the ass that was to deal with; he talks about how Cliff Robertson was an asshole, and tried to sabotage a co-star; he talks about his father cheating on his mother, and how that played into Dressed to Kill; he shared a story about Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox that makes me view Casualties of War, and how far Penn will go with his method acting, in a different light.

Directors Noah Bumbach and Jake Paltrow give De Palma free reign with his words, but they keep it all tight on the editing and pacing front. I never once wanted to fast-forward, and when it was all over, I wanted to hear more of Brian De Palma's stories. I just know he's got more.

  • "After The French Connection, there are no car chases."
  • "The thing about teaching filmmaking is that most of them (students) aren't going to go anywhere. If you have a career it's a miracle"
  • "You're battling a very difficult system (Hollywood), and all the values of that system are the opposite of what goes into making original, good movies."
  • "It's all an X to me. "
  • "Holy Mackerel!"

If you love movies, and especially Brian De Palma's movies, then this Doc is one hell of a way to spend two hours. Definitely give this one a rent.


De Palma is available now on VOD, and hits Blu-ray & DVD on September 13th.

Here are some scenes from some of De Palma's best movies.


  1. Holy Mackerel!! lol. Just watched this on Amazon. Fantastic.
    I always love movie Docs. And this on is like a condensed version of
    a bunch of mini director's commentaries. Great Stuff.
    He is such a badass, lol...

    1. Agree 100%

      What a great doc, and De Palma is a badass for sure. I'd love to sit in a room and listen to him talk film.

    2. OMG, can you imagine being his neighbor or something? All the stories? I mean the guy knew everyone.