17th May2017

‘Double Exposure’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Michael Callan, Joanna Pettet, Seymour Cassel, James Stacy, Pamela Hensley, Cleavon Little, Robert Tessier, Sally Kirkland | Written and Directed by William Bryon Hillman


A remake of director William Bryon Hillman’s own 1974 film The Photographer, Double Exposure is the latest slice of cinematic sleaze to be rescued from obscurity by the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome; and unlike the majority of their releases I purchase, this was a blind-buy, Meaning I was going into this movie without any prior knowledge with what to expect, trusting in Vinegar Syndrome to deliver another fantastic flick. And that trust – as usual – was well founded.

Double Exposure stars Michael Callan as Adrian Wilde, a prolific photographer whose specialty is shooting nude models for men’s magazines. His life starts to unravel when he begins to experience strange and almost lifelike dreams in which he murders the very women he’s been photographing. What’s more is that he soon discovers that they might not be dreams after all. Has he started to lose touch with reality; is he a calculated killer attempting to create an unbelievable alibi; or is something much more sinister and deadly afoot…

Part Peeping Tom, part Italian giallo, Double Exposure is one of those films that many rightly claim as a hidden gem, though to be fair the film did recieve a release as part of Scorpion’s “Katrina’s Nightmare Theater” range in 2011. Here in the UK the film hasn’t seen the light of day since the era of VHS rentals – back when titles like this would have been sold on cover art alone… And maybe that’s a good thing? For William Bryon Hillman’s film is probably best entered into knowing as little as possible – that way the bizarre, outlandish tale can unfold as it should: without the audience knowing which way is up!

Double Exposure is also a VERY sleazy affair. The film mixes sex and violence like all good giallos should (for this IS a giallo, if an American take on one) and the characters are just as murky. Speaking of which, if I had any qualms with this film (though this is a trivial point IMO)  is the lack of more Pamela Hensley: a woman who, as a young man growing up in the 80s, was – in her appearance in the Buck Rogers movie – a very formative part of my burgeoning sexuality; along with the women of Battle Beyond the Stars of course! Here Hensley plays a cop investigating the rash of killings that are all connected by photographer Wilde. She even has a stake in proceedings given that one of her partners – undercover in drag no less – is offed early doors in the films opener.

A fantastic old-school whodunnit updated for the 42nd Street crowd, Double Exposure keeps you guessing to the end – even if the denouement ends up being something of a cliche (at least by todays terms). It’s a shame that it has taken this long for the film, and more importantly it’s director William Bryon Hillman, to get the kinds of respect they BOTH truly deserve.

Once again, Vinegar Syndrome pack another release with a ton of extras – which on this release include: Commentary track with Director William Byron Hillman; “Exposing Double Exposure” Interview with Cinematographer R. Michael Stringer; “Staying on Task” Interview with Script Supervisor Sally Stringer; Isolated Score by composer Jack Goga; original theatrical trailer; and promotional still gallery.

Double Exposure is out now on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.


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