marked for death by Peeping Tom - To Look Meant Danger To Smile Meant Death!
A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.
This film will make you very, very uncomfortable. In fact, the last time I saw a film that made me almost sick to my stomach from discomfort, it was during the scenes with the molesting dad in Todd Solondz's Happiness.
Like that film, this one puts us in the place of a deeply despicable person and asks us to understand them -- and even empathize. And like that film, we are shown the internal struggle between doing "right" and the character's baser instincts.
It's slow-moving, creating an atmosphere of dread as it moves to its conclusion. A difficult film to watch. But very worth it.
“Imagine... someone coming towards you... who wants to kill you... regardless of the consequences.”
-Mark Lewis (Karlheinz Böhm)
In the year of 1960, a little film that goes by the name of Psycho was released under the fine directorial hand of the revered Alfred Hitchcock. It singlehandedly invented the ‘slasher’ sub-genre (or at the very least, set the foundations; Black Christmas (1974) was the first ‘official’ slasher) and reinvented the meaning of horror. We were treated to spectacular acting, steady and skilled direction, and memorable scenes aplenty, some of which are now cemented in film culture.
In the year of 1960, three whole months before Hitchcock’s generally loved Psycho was…
Not having seen a single Powell (or any in collaboration with Pressburger) movie has turned out to be one of my more hideous oversights in cinema having just seen the magnificent Peeping Tom. Widely regarded as one of the greats of horror cinema, and cinema in general, this film is almost unbearable in just how creepy and disturbing it is. Over 50 years after release it is still effectively chilling by exploring one of the more repugnant aspects of human beings, voyeurism. In this case the act of filming murders and putting them together to be rewatched later, but also in what is later to be revealed a much more grueling act of forced voyeurism, a scene that sent chills…
Karlheinz Böhm said in a interview that there is only two specific performances of his own that he is particularly proud of. One is his portrayal as Helmut Salomon in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film "Martha" from 1974. The other is as Mark Lewis in this film. The funny thing is while both performances come across as rather evil maniacal roles they are drastically different and when compared together really can be used as evidence to Böhm's acting abilities. In Martha, I might go as far as to say he is even more evil and terrifying as a abusive controlling husband because there is absolutely no shred of goodness in his character.
As Mark Lewis however, there is a much more…
Is Peeping Tom the greatest film about film there is? It may well be. I have a fond affinity for this level of self-reflexivity; I guess as a cinephile, spending my days watching film after film, it's fascinating to see the darker side of my passion brought to life. It helps immeasurably to have it so brought by a director as brilliant as Michael Powell. The performance he gets from Karlheinz Böhm is among the most distressingly sympathetic portrayals I've ever seen, the way he frames his story with great visuals adding vastly to the core concepts of film's perverse invasiveness. It's always interesting to compare Peeping Tom to the contemporaneous Psycho: people tend to wonder why the latter renovated…
A psychotic thriller way ahead of its time. I refuse to believe it was released in 1960 and not 1970.
There's a bit of crappy dialogue and some moments of laughable acting, but otherwise, the movie is amazing. The script, in particular, is very strong, and does a tremendous job of telling the story visually, and giving the viewer 2+2 and letting them figure out 4 on their own. This is without a doubt the reason I enjoyed the movie so much, because there wasn't a character that I truly cared about in the whole story. But the strong use of symbolism and excellent writing were enough to keep me hooked.
Peeping Tom is a perfect psychological horror movie that if your mood is perfect gets right under your skin. This film is the perfect example of a horror movie that can make you anxious and uncomfortable without even one drop of blood.
While watching this, I kept on comparing this psychological horror/thriller type of films with the bloodfilled gore ones that we see more and more today and concluded that these old films are just more original and bring the idea, the essential horror idea much better than modern horrors which could be made without having an original idea. Just wind some guy up in some barbed wire, roll him over for a few times and voila, horror. No that's not the way to go.
A very early shot, as the camera moves into the lens of Lewis' own camera, explicitly marries the film's critique of the objectification of the gaze to its own viewers. The film extrapolates the disconnection from reality that accompanies this process into its most drastic end points, in mortification and sexual violence. Lewis expresses this tendency directly when he opines "whatever I photograph I always lose."
The screenplay is careful not to relegate this behaviour to the "psychotic" activities of its central figure, however. The commodification of the female body that depends on the camera's objectifying gaze is also implicated through Mark's activity photographing woman to be sold on the sly in a news agent's. The sexualized nature of the…
Released the same year as Psycho (1960) and dealing with many of the same issues - lust, death, voyeurism - Peeping Tom is often sadly overlooked. The film is delightfully British and Carl Boehm plays the role of the soft-spoken Mark brilliantly. Michael Powell provides assured direction and a masterful use of sound which plays surprisingly well into a film that primarily concerns itself with scopophilia. I'm reluctant to draw too many comparisons with the admittedly slightly superior Psycho, but they both provided a template which the later slasher craze would commercialise and profit from hugely. Peeping Tom is a thrilling film which attempts to blur the lines between heroes and villains, instead portraying a character study and inviting the audience to understand motivations. Upon release it was unsurprisingly despised by critics, but there are important themes that Powell is conveying here which deserve attention and appreciation.
A masterpiece of avant-garde horror.
I enjoyed it slightly more the 2nd time. Still, I think it’s overrated.
Excellent use of sound and suggestion to create a strange and terrifying mood. The real reason why this setup is so unsettling is because our "villain" is so pitiable - he's been abused and mistreated, brought up in a way that would make just about anyone into a psychopath. He's handsome and well-dressed, and his internal struggle between murder and kindness is torturing him. The first-person sequences put us in his shoes. How can we fault him for being a peeping tom when our compulsion to watch movies grows from the same voyeuristic seed? If you really want to fuck with people, make them question their own motives - all the buckets of blood in the world can't help you if you don't have an intelligent story. And if done correctly, you don't even need one drop.
Excellent work of suspense and mystery that touches on issues of addiction, voyeurism, fear, and identity. The moody use of technicolor from Powell is especially good here, as is the slow roll out of the story. Meanwhile, the central mystery of the film works precisely because of its simplicity.
No awards. No festivals. But still a stunning horror classic and truly unexpected movie from Michael Powell.
Un film diventato un culto per l’immediatezza e la potenza con cui tratta i temi del voyerismo e della paura. Ma anche un film tecnicamente raffinato, girato con le luci e i colori tipici della coppia Powell-Pressburger e interessanti soggettive del protagonista che si spingono fino a far diventare in alcune sequenze gli stessi spettatori dei veri “peeping tom”.
Nel film inoltre, con estrema abilità, il voyerismo è costantemente associato alla morbosità e all’erotismo.
Interessante anche il lavoro sul suono, che appare complementare alle immagini nella sua funzione di trasmissione di paura e curiosità (si pensi alla lunga sequenza finale delle urla registrate dal professore sui nastri che vengono azionati tutti insieme).
Anna Massey, che interpreta Helen, sarà poi la protagonista di Frenzy, uno degli ultimi film di Hitchcock del 1972. Karlheinz Böhm, attore tedesco, era invece l’Imperatore Francesco Giuseppe in Sissi.