6. Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom posterEh, I was going to do a second post on Paranormal Activity discussing our ghost, but I’m not really up for writing a long post about that right now, especially because people will most likely just think I am completely insane. So, on to Day 3’s first film, Peeping Tom (1960). You get video clips today, hooray! My mother was in the mood for a horror movie, so I pulled out this dvd knowing that she would probably like it. And she did. Good one, Anne!

Peeping Tom is regarded as one of the best horror films ever made, as well as one of the best British films ever made, and one of my personal favorites – in fact, it may be in my Top 10 Favorite Films list, although that list tends to change a lot. I have never seen a Michael Powell film that was anything less than stunning (granted, I’ve only seen The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, Tales of Hoffmann, and Peeping Tom).

"Hello, Mark, I am Helen the librarian from downstairs. I hope you don't mind if I hang out in your apartment when you are not there and mess with all of your stuff."

"Hello, Mark, I am Helen the librarian from downstairs. I hope you don't mind if I hang out in your apartment when you are not there and mess with all of your stuff."

There is a summary of the film over here, although if you are too lazy or have already seen it, the basic gist of the film is that Mark Lewis is a seriously odd dude with an unexplained German accent who was experimented on by his father as a child and therefore has grown up to be a serial killer who murders people with a knife built into his camera, and he makes his victims watch their deaths in a mirror. There is also an incredibly naive and sweet 21-year-old librarian who lives downstairs with her blind mother, who is wise to the fact the Mark has some major issues.

I learned some important things about British people in the 1960s from this film:

1. Almost all women have red hair.

2. No one has any sense of respect for privacy – if your door is unlocked, people have no problem letting themselves in and fucking with your stuff, even if you are a creepy German guy who is clearly a murderer of some kind.

3. They pronounce things weirdly, like “MEE-mo” for “memo.”

4. Despite not having any respect for privacy, everyone is so polite that no one bothers to ask why Mark grew up in England but has a strong German accent.

Two of my favorite horror scenes are in this movie, although I usually don’t count the first one on lists (I make a lot of lists, can you tell?) because the things I like about it have nothing to do with the murder, but rather about the awesome dance Moira Shearer does. Shearer plays a stand-in on a movie set who is going to film something with Mark, who told her that she needs to act out being scared to death of someone. Given that, it is natural that she “warms up” for this task by doing some modern dance:

If you liked her dancing, you should definitely watch The Red Shoes. The second is this scene in which Helen’s blind mother confronts Mark about being a weirdo, and he almost kills her:

The relevant clips starts about halfway through. Sorry I couldn’t trim it for you, but as I mentioned before, video editing is impossible on this computer.

Hopefully that makes you want to see the movie. You should.

Mark Lewis is a wonderful character, because even though he brutally murders people, you really can’t hate him. If your father tortured you as a child by scaring the shit out of you every night and filming it, you would probably end up being a serial killer with an inexplicable German accent too. It’s just science.

Cultural and historical significance: 9/10

Creepiness of main character: 8/10

Moira Shearer dance number: 10/10

Anne rating: 9/10


~ by Anne Harding on October 4, 2009.

3 Responses to “6. Peeping Tom (1960)”

  1. Wow, I honestly don’t remember a German accent at all.

  2. I love Peeping Tom. A lot. 😀

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