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The seven Brian De Palma movies coming to Metrograph that will turn you into a superfan

Joshua Rothkopf

Provocatively, director Brian De Palma likes to tell the story about how, as a teenager, he secretly pursued his dad, a surgeon, with a camera to get proof of his cheating ways. That’s one way into a film career. De Palma’s name has since become synonymous with “going there,” luridness, Hitchcock-on-steroids thrills and an emotional hysteria that’s all his own. Metrograph celebrates his five-decade career with a complete retrospective, running now through June 30. Click here for full showtimes, titles and tickets. Here are the seven movies capable of turning you into a superfan (we’ll assume you’re already familiar with his twin popular meltdowns Carrie and Scarface).

Sisters (1973)
An elegant, stylish thriller shot on Staten Island? Margot Kidder, later of Lois Lane fame in 1978’s Superman, stars as a not-quite-mentally-sane model who lures men to their doom. Loaded with split-screen violence and a stabby score by Hitchcock’s own composer, Bernard Herrmann, De Palma’s first thriller was so accomplished, he never turned back. Fri 3 at 8pm

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
A nutso Phantom of the Opera–inspired musical about a rapacious rock producer (played by gentle Muppet crooner Paul Williams) and a starlet who pays the ultimate price (Jessica Harper), this film is generally considered the gateway drug into raging De Palma addictions. Electro pioneers Daft Punk are obsessed with it. Sat 4 at 8:30pm, Tue 7 at 10pm

Dressed to Kill (1980)
Here’s where the director’s careful mastery of suspense sequences becomes a signature you can recognize. A legendary 10-minute silent pursuit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—all floating cameras and nervous flirtations—is craft of the highest caliber. Also, never trust a dream scene in a De Palma film. They bite. June 10 at 7pm, June 11 at 4:30pm

Blow Out (1981)
In a serious dramatic performance that would beguile Quentin Tarantino long before Pulp Fiction, John Travolta plays a sound designer of cheapo horror flicks who accidentally records a politically motivated murder with his microphone. It’s one of the most radical movies ever funded by Hollywood—a thriller that invades your earholes first. June 11 at 7pm, June 12 at 3:30pm

Body Double (1984)
Stung by the ratings board on Scarface (originally given an X), a vengeful De Palma decided to double down with this spiraling, voyeuristic sex mystery set in the Hollywood Hills. Body Double is sick, synthetic stuff, with power-drill impalings, a vicious dog attack and a full-length video of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax (Don’t Do It).” June 18 at 4, 9pm

Carlito’s Way (1993)
Reuniting with Al Pacino, De Palma mounted another hot-blooded crime saga, this one blessed with deeper emotional reach and a climactic NYC subway chase that’s dissected in film schools for its virtuosity. But maybe the most hypnotic thing about the film is the hair plugs glued to the balding head of Sean Penn, as coked-up lawyer Dave Kleinfeld. June 17 at 6:45pm, June 18 at 1pm

Femme Fatale (2002)
Pure delirium. Almost as if knowing that his fans expected twists within twists, gratuitous nudity and an utter disregard for logical coherence, De Palma uncorked this crazy masterpiece—something of a compendium of his greatest hits. It’s a movie that never plays by the rules, a cult object of the highest order. This screening will be packed. June 18 at 6:30pm   


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