This is one of several Brian De Palma films that pay tribute to the Master of Suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock. While De Palma has never come close to equaling his hero, he has done some great imitations of him in movies like "Dressed to Kill" and "Blowout". "Body Double", however, is a weak effort by any standard. It has been branded a blatant rip-off of "Vertigo", but I don't think it's even that.
In the convoluted plot, an actor needs a temporary place to stay, and an acquaintance puts him up in a spectacular Hollywood Hills home. The friend points out that, through a telescope in the house, one can spy on a woman in a house across the way. Said woman puts on quite a striptease show every evening. One night, the actor sees the woman being robbed by a very spooky character. Already obsessed with her, he begins to follow her around town to make sure she is okay. His spy games lead to danger, murder and some rather graphic encounters in the world of porn video making.
This is one of those movies that hinge on a totally improbable plot device. Though he uses a whole bag of cinematic tricks which make some of the movie rather interesting to look at, De Palma never manages to fool the audience into going with the flow of the ludicrous story. The movie can be looked at as a spoof of suspense thriller; however, it doesn't succeed very well on that level either.
De Palma had directed some fine movies in his time. "Body Double" is definitely a low point, in my opinion. Besides the films mentioned above, the good ones include three crime sagas - "The Untouchables", "Scarface", and "Carlito's Way", as well as the horror classic, "Carrie".