With its incredibly complex structure--which implicates the audience in the central character's crimes--PEEPING TOM is a remarkable examination of the psychology of filmmaking and film viewing, and one of the most disturbing films ever made.
Mark Lewis (Boehm), a focus-puller at a film studio, works part-time at a corner cigar store taking pornographic photos of women. One night, he approaches a prostitute on the street, goes to her apartment, and murders her while filming the event.
Mark rents out most of the house he owns, and a young tenant named Helen (Anna Massey) takes a liking to her landlord. When he screens movies of himself as a young boy, Helen is horrified by scenes of Mark's father (Michael Powell), a quack psychologist, tormenting the boy--part of the
psychologist's studies in fear, Mark explains.
A dancer working at the film studio (Moira Shearer) is the next victim of Mark's grisly obsession. Increasingly attracted to Helen, he tries to repress his cinematic obsession by leaving his camera at home when they go out, but his perverted impulses begin to get the best of him.
Michael Powell, who, along with partner Emeric Pressburger, was one of the cornerstones of the British film industry during the 1940s, was vilified by the British press following PEEPING TOM's release in 1960. The director of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP, STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, BLACK
NARCISSUS, and THE RED SHOES had made a rich and provocative psychological horror film, but critics in his homeland found it completely repugnant. The film was quickly butchered by the studio and was shown briefly in US second-run houses. It wasn't until 1979, however, that a restored version was
released due to the efforts of director Martin Scorsese, a devout fan of the picture. Sadly, Powell's career never recovered from the critical attacks, and he made only a handful of features and shorts before his death in 1990.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: With its incredibly complex structure--which implicates the audience in the central character's crimes--PEEPING TOM is a remarkable examination of the psychology of filmmaking and film viewing, and one of the most disturbing films ever made. Mark Lewis (B… (more)