Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peeping Tom: Two Ginger's in One Movie? That's Just Crazy Man.

Peeping Tom in it's time was one of the most controversial films to date. Now it seems almost funny when we have things like Cannibal Holocaust to compare it to. It is an amazing film however and it keeps you thinking about it long after you watch it, which in my opinion is the mark of a truly great thriller.

So meet Mark, a photographer with a scarring childhood who gets a real kick out of filming his victims while killing them. An early form of snuff films perhaps? Mark appears normal on the outside albeit a bit strange and nervous when he interacts with other people, especially those who make him nervous. Case in point his downstairs neighbor Helen who is the creepiest ginger I've ever seen.. Mark shows Helen some home video footage of his father filming him as a child in various states of terror. In one instance his father throws a lizard on his bed and films while Mark screams and tries to get away. Mark reveals that his father was a psychologist who focused on fear and the nervous system. He kept Mark on constant surveillance even wiring his room so that he could always be watched and used for his experiments, even going so far as to film Mark saying goodbye to his dying mother and attending her funeral.

Female victims of Mark's start popping up and it's not long before the police make a connection. Each woman has the look of pure terror on their face and are stabbed in the throat. We find out soon enough that Mark kills the women with the pointed end of his tripod while filming them at the same time. He also has attached a mirror to the camera so his victims can watch their own deaths.

I don't want to reveal too much of the ending because I found it pretty breathtaking. But the most curious part about the film is the symbolism of being watched, and watching yourself. I read that the film is an allegory for a horror movie director. The director watches his victims or characters being killed in order to gain a reaction from the audience. Mark in turn tries to gain a reaction from his victims which then of course gains a reaction from the audience. It can be a bit confusing but when you think about the voyeurism involved in a camera it really is quite fascinating.

Mark and Norman Bates are often connected in this way. Both enjoy "watching" their victims to some extent. Both have some pretty messed up and frightening childhoods, and both have a hint of a double personality well a hint more in Mark's case, with poor Norman it is pretty clear there are two sides.

The strangeness of Mark's father is extremely interesting, and how Mark's adulthood was created due to his father's experiments. There are also a lot of really really great scenes and pictures in this; the juxtaposition of the mother's pointed walking stick, to Mark's pointed tripod, Helen's mothers blindness and how she still feels fear even though she cannot see Mark, the funny bits about the scene being changed from trunks to hats, and Mark's general creepiness.

I feel pretty confident I could go on and on about everything in this movie so I will spare you. If you haven't seen this you must check it out. It could easily make my favorites list with a few more viewings. Watch the scene below for a good idea of Mark's character.

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