Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day 102: Peeping Tom (1960) - Rank 4/5


What a cheery movie...You know, this film, while an excellent psychological horror/drama, certainly isn't a selection that merits repeat viewings. The film is centered around a voyeur, pushing the limit for this subject far more than its "predecessor" "Psycho." The central character (played with quiet, brooding intensity by Carl Boehm) is Mark Lewis, a serial killer who has quite the unique way of murdering his victims; he records them with a 16mm camera as he stalks and kills them, the third leg of the camera's tripod fashioned into a crude spear (that doubles as a phallus) which he stabs into their throat. A mirror is also attached above the camera so the victim can watch herself be killed. He does it simply because he becomes aroused at rewatching the dying terror on women's faces, a habit he picked up as a result of being tortured and constantly filmed by his father's fear experiments. Then he tries to have a legitimate girlfriend. Quite the gigglefest, it is.

The film is an excellent character study, and would certainly take multiple viewings to pick up on all of the nuances of the voyeur's pathos. But the film has such a serious tone that repeat viewings would be very difficult. There is one other thing: "Peeping Tom" provides a far eerier metaphor, for the primary character could very well be seen as a member of a theater audience. Film lovers, on some minute level, experience pleasure at taking a peek into the lives of others. That dark truth becomes more obvious, painfully so, at times, as you watch Mark watch films. Whether this commentary was intentional or not, it's certainly there and it lingers long after the film ends.

Watch the Trailer

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