Peeping Tom Reviews
A young, fairly attractive man is a peeping tom with a camera. He films women for periods of time and eventually kidnaps them, tortures, and murders them. In his non-serial killer life he begins dating a girl who is blind. She begins feeling his behavior is peculiar and stumbles into his tape room. Her life quickly becomes at risk.
"It's just a film, isn't it?"
"No. No. I killed them."
Michael Powell, director of Stairway to Heaven, The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Age of Consent, and The Wild Heart, delivers Peeping Tom. The storyline for this picture is fairly good and very well executed. The horror content is dated but the acting is pretty good. The cast includes Karlheinz Bohm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Esmond Knight, and Mickael Goodliffe.
"What's it about?"
"A magic camera."
I came across this in the summer on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and decided to DVR it. This was a perfect movie to watch during Halloween season. This was pretty well done and fun to watch unfold. This isn't perfect, or an all time classic, but worth a viewing if you're a fan of classic horror movies (like Rear Window or Psycho).
"Why don't you lie to me?"
1) The terrible reception it received might have been because the English disdained horror as part of the German tradition of storytelling. (Oddly, he doesn't mention that the actor who plays the killer sure seems to be German, even though the character is English.)
2) It also might have been because showing the villain as an insane person was pretty novel - and considered distasteful.
3) Unsubtly equating violence with sexual urges was novel, too.
4) It frames the filmmaker of horror as one who commits a disgusting, aggressive act.
The film is about film essentially. Aside from the pornographic elements which this film received on release and are virtually non-existant.
The film shows the killers victims last second reaction to their deaths in much the same way as a director (especially of horror films) wants to scare the viewer of his/her work.
The killer is the director (hypothetically of course). Im sure they don't have to kill several people in reality for experience.
What is more interesting about this film is that no major film stars or indeed studios/distributors are involved.
Every cinephile should watch this film to understand the element of surprise the director is trying to deliver.
Mark Lewis is a young London photographer making a documentary about women's expressions of terror whilst murdering them with a blade on his camera. He's a handsome, but disturbed young man with a hint of German in his accent. (Imagine Peter Lorre mixed with Hitler Youth) He works as a cameraman on the set at a London Film Studio, and a secondary job as a nudie photographer at a local newsstand. The downstairs neighbor girl takes interest in Mark as he shows her his childhood home videos in which his psychologist father throws lizards on his bed in the morning. In-spite of this darkness she only sees the good in him even while her blind mother only hears evil in his footsteps.
This film explores all of the same tropes you find in most horror movies but does so with an almost literary genius. It presents the perversion of voyeurism in film and in turn implies the audience's culpability. It looks at the father's effect on a young boys sexuality and how women are viewed. Mark's victims are a prostitute, nude models & an actress. Women who've made their living on being watched or seen without emotional connection. It even presents the director as an aggressive scientist, provoking fear for the sake of his experiments. As though the emotionally detached have finally found a way to express themselves through filmmaking.
What makes this revolutionary for it's time is that this film not only gives us the dual POV of the killer, but it also gives us the opportunity to sympathize with his psychosis. He's is the brutal result of science & film both of which are viewed "objectively." He knows he'll be caught and isn't trying to avoid it, but takes every opportunity to film his experience, simply because he doesn't know any other way to process his sadness & angst.
This is a fascinating film with all the tension, darkness and violence for the films it would go on to inspire.