Friday, February 26, 2021


Avi Nesher

I remember seeing photos of Doppelganger in Fangoria as a kid. Some of the effects looked interesting, but for whatever reason, I never followed up on it. I remember seeing the cover in the video store and once again nothing about it really drove me to see it. There is sat in the back of my brain for 28 years until I saw it available for streaming on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I can’t exactly call Doppelganger a revelation, but it definitely evoked a reaction. Doppelganger is a mess. It is loud and ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense. However, it all works together to create a delicious mess that is brilliantly watchable and fun.

In the 1990s Drew Barrymore was making the transition from child to adult star and she was taking on more explicit roles. Doppelganger follows the trend that began most notably with Poison Ivy (1992) which sees her not only perform some sexy scenes, but she also gets to be evil and violent. Barrymore is giving the questionable material of Doppelganger everything she’s got, and it shows. She dominates a movie that could have buried her in characters with funny accents, wind machines, and slimy rubber monsters.

Drew looking for her agent.

At first glance, Doppelganger feels like an even more overblown DePalma mystery film. The murders are explicit and grisly by early 1990s standards. The story feels like a riff on Psycho (1960), with a less than tactful take on mental health. What appears to be a relatively simple plot with the kind neat freak Holly Gooding (Gooding get it? That is the level of subtlety we are dealing with here) suspected of murdering her mother. Was it a second personality or was there something even more sinister happening?

Of course, there is something more sinister happening, it comes as hardly a surprise. The fact that the plot is explained by Sally Kellerman running a phone sex business where everyone dresses in white is, however, quite a surprise. There are many strange touches such as this that give Doppelganger its off-kilter energy. By the time we reach the climax we are faced with not only a Scooby-Dooesque plot revelation involving impossibly lifelike disguises and rubber masks but also a villain who takes the time to sit down and explain his whole scheme. It at this point that Doppelganger goes absolutely berserk with a lengthy special effects sequence that is as elaborate as it is out of place.


Slime was still very popular in 1993.

Doppelganger feels of its era, the early 1990s when horror was coming down from the heights of the VHS era, and the mix of comedy and horror that dominated the genre in the late 1980s. Horror was still trying to find its new voice and sadly, erotic slime horror didn’t make the mark. This relegated Doppelganger to be lost to obscurity. I am glad I took a chance on it or else I never would have found the strange little gem. Is Doppelganger good? Oh god no. Is Doppelganger memorable? Yes, without question.

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