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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HORROR MASTERPIECE
At last a decent DVD release for this disturbing classic from nearly fifty years ago. Vilified and treated like a video nasty on its initial release this trip inside the mind of a pyschopath is still so fresh and refreshing. Recommended for all students of serious horror, the tale of a disturbed young mind with a blade on his camera tripod filming his victims...
Published on 30 Mar 2007 by Anton

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Open up your peepers for peeping Tom!
I enjoyed the modesty of this film, and the complexity of the portrayal of the human mind. The film debated what drives someone to go to the cinema to watch murder, sex and violence? A very brave film for its time, it threw back questions that the audience weren't ready to be answered. Definately a head of its time, caused much contraversy (according to my film lecturer)...
Published on 13 Aug 2003 by gemcoombe


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HORROR MASTERPIECE, 30 Mar 2007
By 
This review is from: Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
At last a decent DVD release for this disturbing classic from nearly fifty years ago. Vilified and treated like a video nasty on its initial release this trip inside the mind of a pyschopath is still so fresh and refreshing. Recommended for all students of serious horror, the tale of a disturbed young mind with a blade on his camera tripod filming his victims expressions as he kills them is utterly gripping. Acting all round is top notch in a production way ahead of it's time. Recommended.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The film that was scarier that Psycho!, 11 Jan 2001
This review is from: Peeping Tom [DVD] (DVD)
Also released in 1960, Peeping Tom disgusted the censors and outraged the British Press to such a degree that Director Michael Powell found he had to move to Australia if he wished to continue his filmmaking career! The theme of scopophilia (pleasure from watching) is at the centre of this daringly ground-breaking movie as an affected cameraman (Mark) films the fear of the girls he murders to watch again and again! As he becomes emotionally entangled with his live-in tennant, his love for her becomes confused with his sociopathic desire to film her when she becomes frightened. A dark and interesting film, Peeping Tom addresses the very nature of cinema and the viewers' apparent complicity in the subject matter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie which some find unpleasant, 15 Mar 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
This is a great, unpleasant, disturbing film made by Michael Powell three years after he and his partner in the Archers, Emeric Pressburger, went their own ways. British critics loathed it, said so loudly, and the movie died within weeks of its release. Some say it destroyed Powell's career.

Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) is a young man who works as a camera puller at a movie studio, who also at night photogaphs girlie pictures for magazines. His father, a psychologist, studied the effects of fear by putting his son in terrible situations and then photographing the child's reactions. Lewis lives in the second floor of a house and often watches those movies while he sits alone in the dark.

Lewis also does something else. In the tripod of his camera there is a concealed knife. As he photographs a girl the knife pushes into her, while the camera films her face as she realizes she is going to die and then while she is dying. He plays back these movies, too. As you watch Peeping Tom you become a voyeur participant in what he is doing. He meets the young woman who lives below him and it is apparent that she is at first curious about him, but then attracted to him. He finds within himself an attraction that might be love, might be salvation, but which is conflicted. The movie plays out with tension, remorse and even sympathy. The ending is somewhat unexpected, but with hindsight also inevitable.

And maybe that is what made this movie so controversial. Lewis is a sympathetic figure. You know what his father put him through because you've watched those old movies. Boehm playes Lewis as a shy, nice, rather sad young man. Anna Massey, who plays Helen Stephens, the girl on the first floor, is a first-rate actress and in this role she is excellent. She eventually realizes something is wrong with Lewis, but still wants to give him love and help.

This movie was released just weeks after Psycho. Hitchcock's career was enhanced, Powell's was hurt. I think the difference was that while Norman Bates was weird to begin with and the frights were real, you could laugh at yourself afterward. Not so with Peeping Tom. The voyeur aspect of the deaths still make a viewer uncomfortable, and you can easily feel sad about the damaged Mark Lewis.

For fans of Michael Powell, he plays Mark Lewis' father in the old movie clips that show the fear experiments. Powell's young son played the young Mark Lewis.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars has retained its disturbing power, 4 May 2012
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This review is from: Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
Peeping Tom (1960)

This is one of those films that is well preceded by its backstory. Director Michael Powell, one half of one of Britain's most famous filmmakers, Powell and Pressburger, committed career suicide with this film. The British public were so offended by this offering that the studios pretty much closed their doors to him, and one of our greatest filmmakers ever was prematurely finished, at the height of his powers. Only later, championed by the likes of Scorcese, did the world reevaluate Peeping Tom, and come to agree that it is a masterpiece. As a loss to filmmaking, it seems a similar story to that of Buster Keaton, after making the General, when it was a massive flop, and Keaton was not allowed the freedom to make his own films any more. He became a sideman, tied to a long-running inescapable contract, and ended up a frustrated alcoholic. Later, the film was recognised to be a masterpiece, some say the greatest silent film ever made, and one wistfully wonders what he might have produced had he not had his creative hands tied in such disastrous fashion.

This film, as you'd expect upon hearing of the reaction it forced from the public of the time, is brutal and shocking. Compared to Psycho (although Hitchcock suffered no similar public disgust), it is the story of a man who is only a "focus puller" in the movies, but who longs to be a film-maker. In his part time, he kills women with his camera, filming their last moments. By seeing what he sees while he does it, we are drawn into the murderer's mind perhaps more than in other killer films, and one wonders if this is one reason it feels so much more uncomfortable than other killer movies. Another reason for the outcry is that we don't see this man as just a cold-blooded killer. We learn some of his backstory, his painful childhood under a damaging and abusive father, who would wake his son in the middle of the night to film his terrified reaction to having a lizard dropped in his bed. Interestingly, these film flashbacks star the director Powell and his real-life son.

We gain sympathy for the killer, and understand some of his motives. He isn't sadistic. You get the feeling he doesn't like what he does, that he is messed up and confused and needs help. He is shy, nervous, and you can sense a longing to be rid of the nightmare and to be saved. His biggest chance of salvation comes from a neighbour, played by Anna Massey, although her blind mother, fantastically played by Maxine Audley, has strong reservations about the whole thing (as you may expect). But the more she delves into his past and his troubles, the more risk she runs of becoming his next victim, even though he's desperate for that not to happen. As we can see he wants her to be OK too, we see he is not fully in control, and is almost (but not quite) as powerless as we are. Thus we feel we are in the grip of something else, which is a very clever sensation, and almost pulls us away from hating HIM. We hate what he is fighting. We hate his father for having donet his to him. It's an interesting and very powerful sensation.

The cast are excellent, the story compelling, but the standout is the direction. Every shot is interesting and unusual, the colours strong and vivid, and the overall effect is one of continued creepiness. The whole film is soaked in unease, and I genuinely worried for all the people in the film. It almost felt as if there was no "baddy", certainly not in the normal serial killer sense, and I think that may be the thing that so terrified the people who ended up killing the film a few days into its initial release. I'm glad I got to see it, but I'm not sure I'd want to watch it again. It felt an ordeal, but a powerful and memorable one. Still, after all these years, the film has retained it's power to cause deep unease, in some ways even more than the more celebrated Psycho. It's a powerful film, and one can't help but wonder what Powell might have gone on to create. Above all the acted deaths in the film that people were upset by, it's the real death of Powell's film career, that their reaction caused, that we should mourn the most.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a unique masterpiece, 13 Oct 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peeping Tom [DVD] (DVD)
This excellent edition of Peeping Tom from Studio Canal really has very good colour and image quality, giving you the full immediacy of Michael Powell's startling film. By any reasonable reckoning it should be an appalling film to sit through if you're not a fan of the serial killer genre, but Powell manages to subvert this expectation by presenting a story so human that a huge gulf opens between the nastiness of the killings and the sympathy you feel for the sad, psychopathic character who is perpetrating them. This is only possible in cinema, but it does incline us to try to understand more than make easy judgements in real life, so to that extent the film has a strong humanist core. Mark is in many ways a very gentle character who has been destroyed by his childhood, in which he was subjected to appalling experiments in fear by his father. The casting of Carl Boehm is an amazing coup, as you can only think how gentleness is this man's essential nature, however it may have been distorted. When he meets Anna Massey who lives downstairs with her blind mother, the stage is set for a tender drama of the heart that sets you reeling, such is the contrast with the flipside of Mark's actions. The film is shot in quite a lurid way, showing you what the character sees through his lens right up to the last second before he murders them. It is both intensely voyeuristic and a vivid Technicolor creation in which the viewer oddly feels buoyed up, generally, by the humanity of the director's gaze, and of the characters and mise-en-scene. It's hard to see how Powell pulls this off, but it is completely different from any other film of this type. It came out around the same time as Psycho, but a comparison reveals this film to be so much warmer, even if the surprise element of the killer's gentleness is a parallel. Peeping Tom, however, extends this over the whole frame to give a feeling of tenderness as the dominant note, sealed off from its horrific implications even as it considers the nature of sadism and the physical manifestation of extreme fear. The love of cinema and filmed images suffuses the whole thing, backed up by a superb score by Brian Easdale, who wrote the music for The Red Shoes also. Anna Massey, Moira Shearer and all the other actors, without exception, reflect the magical transformation that Boehm brings to the raw material of the lead. There is even a comic episode involving Shirley Anne Field as a fragile young actress unable to get through a few simple lines on a film set without breaking down, and another involving a girlie photographic shoot. This too fits in seamlessly; but ultimately it is a tragic love story, and one you can never quite get to the bottom of, its appeal is so disarming.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still groundbreaking, a work of art, 22 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Peeping Tom [DVD] (DVD)
Rarely has a film been loved and hated as much as Peeping Tom. The censor's reaction has of course gone down in history, and rumours persist of longer, more complete cuts being out there somewhere.
Peeping Tom still has the power to divide audiences, with viewers typically split between finding it fascinating or boring. Given the manner in which cinema has upped the ante on depictions of sadism and brutality since Powell made this film, it's not surprising that many are disappointed with the lack of graphic violence or gore on display, or the films disdain for a conventional "thriller" type atmosphere.
However, on a cerebral level, Peeping Tom retains its capacity to disturb. Rarely has a film depicted the process of a killer being created so chillingly, nor the manner in which such individuals are capable of conflicted, dualistic personalities. Consider how many serial killers have been described to be charming and kind by others who knew them (Dennis Nilsen or Ted Bundy for example). The scenes showing this transition from shy man-child to confident killer are masterful, with Carl Boehm overcoming other more obvious limitations in his casting (the accent mainly) to portray this aspect unerringly.
Yes, Peeping Tom is a flawed film in some respects, but I believe it to be a masterpiece nonetheless. Its detractors point to the staged and somewhat theatrical feel of it and the melodramatic ending, but the extent to which it immerses you in the murky and deeply melancholy inner world of such a damaged man, as well as a grimy and realistic view of British society in the late 50's, more than compensate. It is an intriguing and complex film, raising questions about our own desire to watch what we are seeing on the screen, and begs discussion about its numerous themes and subtexts. It is quite rightly in my opinion described as a work of art, with all of the demands that art places upon the appreciator to lose themselves a little in the pursuit of some semi-hidden and undefinable truth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TRULY AHEAD OF ITS TIME !, 1 Dec 2000
By 
Truly ahead of its time, Michael Powell excelled himself and the minds of his audience with this extraodinary piece of work.
I remember first seeing this as a naive 12 year old late one night on BBC2 and it was the first film that truly moved me in a unexplainable way.
As you expect from Powell the use of colour is stunning, coupled with a difficult storyline. The film was panned on release and only due to the likes of Martin Scorsese has it become the classic that it always was.
Simply stunning, and easily ranks among Powell's best work. Buy it !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest British Film? Silly to think of it as horror (only), 4 Feb 2011
By 
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This review is from: Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
It is bursting with ideas, being visually powerful but with feet firmly rooted to the ground. The British critics, hamstrung in their treatment of Powell due to their hang-up: the need for so-called realism, couldn't abide the real thing illustrating the complexities of the human psyche compared to the clear-cut lines they had the emotional range to deal with. They wished to `flush it swiftly down the nearest sewer'.

To see this film or other brilliant films by Powell and Pressburger on the cinema, search on this combination of words: 'events' 'pressburger' 'genius'. Peeping Tom, The Red Shoes, I Know Where I'm Going! Gone To Earth, A Matter of Life and Death, Thief of Bagdad and Red Ensign are all playing in the UK and France (and Iceland) between Feb and June 2011 and all the dates are to be found using these search terms.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning film, 27 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
It may be uncomfortable viewing at times but this is a film that has belatedly become a classic. The performances of Carl Boehm and Anna Maasey are brilliant. This special edition dvd includes a really informative audio commentary and is a great addition to the film. A film that can be watched many times. 5 stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Powell crosses over the line with "Peeping Tom", 29 Dec 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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"Peeping Tom" is a film whose place in cinematic history cannot help but outweigh the critical value of the film itself. When it was released in Great Britain in 1960 it was universally condemned by the critics and pulled from released the first week, effectively ending the career of director Michael Powell ("I Know Where I'm Going," "Black Narcissus," "The Red Shoes"). "Peeping Tom" is about a young man who not only murders women, but who films them as he kills them. What upset the critics was that Powell used the perspective of the camera to turn the viewing audience into voyeurs as well, and that he made the murderer into a sympathetic figure.
Reducing "Peeping Tom" to the level of a slasher film misses the point, because this is much more of a psychological portrait of a troubled young man. Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) works as an assistant cameraman at a film studio and has trouble appreciating the difference between the real world and what he sees through the lens of a camera. Mark has another job, taking "views" of half naked women for the owner of the local news agent shope (Bartlett Mullins) to sell discretely to his customers. But Mark's voyeurism is ultimately not about sex, but rather about fear: provoking it and recording it. As Mark slowly opens up to Helen (Anna Massey), the girl who lives downstairs in his building who shows an interest in his work, we learn that his father was a psychologist who filmed his son in a series of disquieting experiments into the nature of fear. The boy is following in daddy's footsteps. Powell and screenwriter Leo Marks had wanted to do a film about the work of Sigmund Freud, but John Huston was working on "Freud" in Hollywood, so Marks suggest a story about a voyeuristic murderer as an alternative psychological thriller. Ultimately, the psychological dimensions of "Peeping Tom" outweigh the thriller elements and are what make this a noteworthy film.
"Peeping Tom" came out before "Psycho," and the comparisons are inevitable, although they seem as much the work of different times as of different directors. Part of it is that Powell is working in technicolor, with rich colors which work against the horror elements in the film. But we also have to take into account that Powell is not dealing with suspense as a key part of the equation and that there is nothing in "Peeping Tom" anywhere near the level of the shower scene in "Psycho." The key scene is the opening sequences, where we see Mark approach a prostitute on the street, his camera becomes the point of view for the audience, and we see the terror on this face of his first victim before she dies. Then, during the opening credits, we see Mark watching the film he has just shot. The film's opening sets up the rules for the game in this film and no doubt outraged the London film credits before the director's name appeared (shown over Mark's projector no less). Add to this the fact that Powell and his son played Mark's father and Mark as a child, and that probably outraged them more than the half naked women lounging around in display positions. Powell's leading man was the son of a noted Austrian conductor and Boehm's slight German accent probably afforded the critics the small confort that this twisted individual was not a proper English lad.
Since this is a Criterion Collection DVD the presentation of the film is done right, with a commentary track by film theorist Laura Mulvey who combines criticism of the film with the history of the film, cast, and crew. Serious film students will enjoy her insights and her comprehensive critique of the film as a true commentary on "Peeping Tom," and not the gay banter of actors and crew trying to come up with things to say that are so disappointing on so many commentary tracks. There is a theatrical trailer, whose tenor seems quite at odds with the film itself, a gallery of production stills, and a Channel 4 U.K. documentary "A Very British Psycho," which relates the controversy of the film and interviews screenwriter Leo Marks and the critics who bashed the film on its release in 1962. You cannot help but feel that while it was Michael Powell's directing career that was ended up this film, it was Marks who should have suffered more as the writer is at least as disturbing a personality as his fictional creation in the film.
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Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960]
Peeping Tom - Special Edition [DVD] [1960] by Michael Powell (DVD - 2007)
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