Double Exposure (1983)

A men's magazine photographer has vivid nightmares where he kills his models in gruesome ways and when his models start getting killed for real he begins to doubt his sanity. His one-armed and one-legged stunt man brother, hilarious 1980s gay stereotype assistant, useless psychiatrist, and totally out of his league girlfriend all lend their support. Meanwhile, typically ineffective 1980s cops run around wasting time and padding the length of the movie.

From the title alone you would expect this to be an 80s cop action movie, maybe with Steven Seagal in it. However you would be wrong. Instead it's a sort of serial killer stalker movie, like a cleaned up version of Maniac or a (much) less bleak version of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And while not nearly as good as either of those horror classics, Double Exposure is surprisingly good and except for a telegraphed and awful twist ending is actually a very effective thriller.

Much of the success of this movie can be attributed to the portrayal of the photographer character. He's very well-written and acted, making for a surprisingly interesting character. He's got an interesting relationship with his brother and his assistant, and his awkward flirtation with the woman who ends up becoming his girlfriend is not something you usually see in a movie like this. When you get to the first scene where he murders a model it is generally unexpected and shocking, even though the movie cleverly plays with the idea well beforehand. When the gruesome nightmares start to become too much for him to handle, his breakdown is done very well.

It's almost an excellent movie. That is, until the end where you get the twist ending you've seen coming for an hour but have been hoping you're wrong. It's stupid and suddenly the movie is no better than any gritty murder movie from the era. Cut that out (and while you're at it, the pointless cop scenes that are just there because in a movie like this you need them) and you'd have a horror classic. With that in there, it's just good.

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