Look out! You're being watched!
Peeping Tom is a 1960 British film by the legendary director Michael Powell
. The movie can be considered, along with Psycho
, as a precursor of the slasher genre
. It also triggered a little controversy.
Mark Lewis is a deeply disturbed young man with a movie camera. He works with a film crew and is a filmmaker aspirant, and has a second job as a photographer of erotica. This all serves to feed his obsession with voyeurism and death, which he feeds by making his own private snuff films, killing women and filming their deaths. He also owns a boarding house, and one day he engages in conversation with the family downstairs, and befriends their daughter Helen, eventually forming a relationship with her. He shares some of his home movies with her, along with his childhood problems created by his father. Turns out he used his son as an experiment in psychological fears putting him in stressful situations and filming everything with his camera
No one suspects clean-cut, mild-mannered Mark when a prostitute is found dead in his neighborhood, nor do they suspect him when a second victim is found dead on the set of the film he's working on. Finally a chance comment from a psychiatrist leads the police to suspect Mark. Unable to escape his urges, Mark murders his third victim in circumstances that make it obvious he's the killer. He flees back to his boarding house, only to find that Helen has looked at his films and knows the truth about him. She begs him to turn himself in, but instead he commits suicide
, giving his documentary an appropriate ending.
The film was highly controversial. Before it was released, it was heavily edited by British censors, with much of the nudity and violence cut out. It was viciously panned by critics and was a flop with audiences, and it wrecked Powell's career. Eventually it was Vindicated by History
and now is esteemed as an early classic of the horror genre.
A personal favorite of Martin Scorsese
. It's also one of the Greatest Films of Roger Ebert
This movie contains examples of: