Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Peeping Tom (1960)



Fear 1/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 2/5

The story goes that this film nearly ruined director Micheal Powell's career. The themes explored - serial murder, child abuse, sexual fetishism, weird German dudes pretending to be British - are still pretty creepy-eepy today. Most respected film critics approach Peeping Tom as a masterpiece, a film that is not only about voyeurism, but is voyeuristic itself, drawing the audience in to the murders and weird stuff going on up on screen. Fair enough, but I'm not that refined. I mean, I like a good bottle of "murlitt" as much as the next dude, but I mainly liked to be weirded out.

Peeping Tom does a good job or being creepy, mainly based on the strengths of lead actor Carl Boehm who comes across as genuinely weird. Caressing and cradling his camera everywhere he goes, it's the subtle things he does as he is playing the abused and damaged lead character that make this film so effective. But there are other things as well - the camera work is great, often putting the audience behind the lens as the victims are dispatched (the way they are killed, though we are only told about it, is pretty nasty and disturbing).

So the story goes like this - Boehm plays a photographer whose day job is to assist the head cameraman at a large film studio. To earn extra money he takes racy snapshots of nude models in a makeshift studio above a convenience store. He's shy, weird and skittish and looks like a genuinely strange guy. He also kills women in his spare time, a practice that seems to disgust him while also getting kinky pleasure from it. We later learn his strange secret involving his abusive and equally perverse psychologist father and it all starts to make sense - sort of. The psychology is very film-worldy and doesn't make a ton of sense, but you get the idea and can see why the guy is so wacky.

There's a great scene involving the blind mother of his downstairs neighbor, a woman he has become close to and is obsessed with. The interaction between the two of them in the tight and darkly lit studio he occupies is almost scarier than any other part of the film.

Peeping Tom is a cool movie that kept my attention and made me think afterwards. I don't know if it's a masterpiece or not, all I know is I liked it and would recommend it to other psychological thriller fans. I also liked Old School and own it on DVD.

- Complaint Dept

1 comment:

Jewcifer said...

This poster looks epic. And for the record, given its name, Old School should have been waaay cooler than the corny bullshit it was.