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Peeping Tom

Peeping Tom (1960)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 8.5/10
Reviews Counted: 43
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 2

Peeping Tom is a chilling, methodical look at the psychology of a killer, and a classic work of voyeuristic cinema.

82

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 2

Peeping Tom is a chilling, methodical look at the psychology of a killer, and a classic work of voyeuristic cinema.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 13,215

My Rating

Movie Info

Michael Powell's controversial meditation on violence and voyeurism effectively destroyed his career when it was first released, but later generations have come to regard it as a masterpiece. Karl Heinz Boehm stars as Mark, the son of a psychologist who kept a video journal of the boy's upbringing for research purposes. The constant intrusions profoundly affected the boy, who grew up to be a photographer himself; but his principal subject matter consists of women whom he murders before the

Unrated,

Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Leo Marks

Nov 16, 1999

Astor Pictures Corporation

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All Critics (43) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (2) | DVD (13)

Fear, as it turns out, is the most frightening thing in the world, and Peeping Tom makes us feel it palpably as few films have been able to do.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Peeping Tom reminds us of the scary, primitive power of movies by putting us, as viewers, in the position of its peeping protagonist. As the psychopath sets up his victims for the kill, we see them through his eyes.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It still packs a wallop. Maybe that's because, in cinema, we're all peeping toms. And the camera, in skillful hands, can be an exquisite instrument of terror.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stripped of its color and some excellent photography plus imaginative direction by Michael Powell, the plot itself would have emerged as a shoddy yarn.

September 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety | Comment (1)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's an understanding and at times even celebratory film -- attitudes that scandalized critics years ago and are still pretty potent today.

September 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Freudian script of notable maturity teases limitless implications from this premise, while maintaining a healthy sense of humour.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although seemingly about a creep who kills, it is as much about our own voyeuristic fascination with movies.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Almost forty years later, Powell's audaciousness, satirical wit and dazzling color sense still crackle with life.

October 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

It's a perceptive, blackly comic masterwork.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

While Hitchcock's masterpiece is unquestionably the more mainstream and formally groundbreaking of the two films, it's arguable that Peeping Tom is the more thematically profound and insightful work. Just don't expect to feel good after watching it.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Future Movies UK

It is a thriller that still has the ability to shock because it holds up a mirror to the impulses in all of us. Perhaps that is why so many people found it hard to stomach in 1960.

November 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

How is the film anything other than its own besotted yet savage review of cinema?

November 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

If anything deserves the "dark masterpiece" tag, this does: a brilliant satirical insight into the neurotic, pornographic element in the act of filming, more relevant than ever in the age of reality television and CCTV.

November 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

A risk-all masterpiece from one of our greatest film-makers.

November 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Misplaced critical vitriol torpedoed the original 1960 release of director Michael Powell's psycho-horror. Fifty years later, it's an undisputed British masterpiece.

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The primary conceit of "Peeping Tom" is to engage the audience as a voyeuristic accomplice to its anti-hero protagonist.

August 11, 2010 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Peeping Tom's classic status is beyond doubt.

September 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

One of the most chilling serial killer films ever made.

April 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

there's a constantly gorgeous surface - a handsome hero, lots of bright Technicolor - and a constant moral rot at play underneath

May 19, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com | Comment (1)
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for Peeping Tom

Over the years, there have been so many films to be hailed as the precursor to the Slasher film. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has had a profound influence on the genre, creating many imitators such as Black Christmas and Halloween to name a few. Michael Powell's Peeping Tom was highly controversial at the time of its release, prompting an end to his career in cinema. This is a stellar work of filmmaking and it was the first film to feature the murders in the killer's POV (as referenced in Scream 4). This is a stunning piece of cinema that not only is a classic of horror, but is also a classic of cinema. This film suggests only what the mind can't see, and in turn makes it much more unrelenting on the viewer. Peeping Tom is the perfect example of a film that uses atmosphere and suspense to create the mood and tone of the film, which is a technique that would be used in the early Slashers of the 1970's. Peeping Tom was a film that truly was ahead of its time, and it seems pretty tame nowadays, but back then, this was a film that caused a stir, but with that said, it revolutionized horror thrillers forever and added a much needed dimension to the genre. This film took risks and pushed the envelope and over the years, you can clearly see how this film influenced a genre. Like Psycho, this remains a benchmark of horror filmmaking, and in turn reinvented the rules. Karlheinz Böhm's performance is stunning as Mark Lewis, the killer who has an appetite for beautiful women who kills them on camera in a voyeuristic style. This is a brilliant film that genre fans will surely enjoy. Peeping Tom is often overlooked as it was certainly eclipsed by Psycho, which was released the same year, and wasn't as vilified as this film. In terms of a horror picture, Peeping Tom succeeds on many levels, and is a unique and standout film that revolutionized the genre forever. Michael Powell has crafted a fine picture using atmosphere, thrills and suspense and leaves your imagination to fill in the blanks, which is far more terrifying.
January 22, 2013
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

'Peeping Tom' follows Mark Lewis, an introverted voyeur living in his father's large London property. To help make ends meet, Mark lets part of the house out, one of his tenants being Helen Stephens, a sweet young woman who befriends him out of pity. Throughout the film Mark struggles to conceal his voyeuristic, murderous habit.

Unfortunately, poor acting from almost the entire cast sorely date 'Peeping Tom', I didn't believe in any of the characters. Like many films of the era, the acting issue is pervasive; there are both wooden and overacted performances. However, thanks to Carl Boehm's generally competent performance, Mark Lewis is the only interesting, somewhat credible character, but even he is guilty of being badly stilted in places.

The film's premise does indeed concern mature themes, however the backlash it faced in 1960 seems rather amazing today. Clearly, the film is going to date, it's 52 years old, but so is 'Psycho', and that fares far, far better today. To think this film was given an '18' certificate as recently as 2001 is nothing short of baffling. The film doesn't even begin to disturb, to say it lacks a visceral edge is to understate, I have never seen a film lose its punch so completely. The BBFC have since given the film a '15' certificate, however I think a '12' rating is more appropriate.

The only thing that's noteworthy about this film is its historical audacity. This film was addressing themes that didn't become mainstream until the 70s, a time of rapidly changing opinions on sex and violence. If it had been released 15 years later and not championed by Martin Scorsese and various critics, it may well have faded in obscurity.

'Peeping Tom' is full of terrible acting, stripped of credibility and largely devoid of tension; the film has undeservedly become a critics' darling.
January 15, 2013
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

52 years later this film still feels as if it could of been made today. 'Peeping Tom' is a lurid look at scoptophilia (through both its lead character and the audience) and the psycholagy of a killer. With, for the time, brave direction (ending Michael Powell's career) and a slow build of tension heading towards a dramatic climax, 'Peeping Tom' is a crime thriller that is as dark as it was the day it was released.
August 5, 2012
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer

Sordid walk on the bad side of town as a criminally tortured child grows up to be ... er, unwholesome, to put it one way. A decidedly British film, the perp adds terror by way of a slight German accent he's trying to hide, awakening nightmares of both Nazis and Freud. This work ruined the director in Britain when released.
July 2, 2012
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Peeping Tom

    1. Mark Lewis: Do you know what the most frightening thing in the world is? It's fear.
    – Submitted by Bria M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Augen der Angst (DE)
  • Peeping Tom (1960) (UK)
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