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Peeping Tom...

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OK, I'm new to the TCM message board and as my first thread I would like to talk about Peeping Tom. I'm a fan of Michael Powell's films such as The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus and I have always wanted to see Peeping Tom. Considering it was the film that "ruined" his career I was very interested. I saw it for the first time today and I thought it was awesome. Michael Powell had guts to make this film. I like the variety in his work. I liked how creative the murders were and how even in something so horrible, the main character found and made something artistic about it. Taping his victims and having his victims watch themselves as he ends their lives. I'm not big on modern horror films at all, I can't stomach them. There is far too much gore and guts in today's horror films. This is along the lines of the perfect horror film for me. Part of what made it so creepy is that it's not a monster in a since that he looks like one, he is just a man. A man with a sick mind. A tripod and a knife, who knew?


Your thoughts?

Cheers. (~.~)

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  • 12 years later...

My reaction to your remarks is one of incomprehensibility. Can't fathom how you arrive at the appreciation you find in this sick dog of a flick.

Not even sure I can pinpoint down what makes it fail for me. But I will try.


Problem #1 Telegraphing: there is no doubt from the first reel, who the murderer is; the only question is "what is his psychological motivation"? Once we grasp it, from that point on there is no anticipation left.


Problem #2: Incompetence: the bumbling way he goes about wreaking his grisly violence on his victims...I find it insulting that he isn't 'better' at what he sets out to do. He makes more mistakes than a cerebral palsy might do under similar circumstances.

As I said above: there's no anticipation. No 'contest' between the killer and the police. Any kind of 'puzzle' or 'unpredictable outcome' (for our minds to toy over) is gone.


Problem #3: Suspense is 'reversed'. We yearn for this guy to be halted and we yearn for some copper to beat the hell out of him. He's so hapless in his idiotic urges; that we see from the start that he can not help but be caught eventually, and so it angers us (the audience) that he isn't caught immediately.

This stumblebum wreaks his hideous slaughter on several nice young girls all because the police are simply 'too slow'. Its infuriating. He can't outwit anyone if he tried. He doesn't even try. He's a creep, yes ...but what's even worse is that he's an incompetent creep.


Problem #4: His particular psychological issue isn't "something anyone else has". It's a 'boutique variety" urge related to nothing else that anyone would ever suffer from ever in a million yrs. Its 'specially whipped up' for this film. No one can relate to it; no one can recognize it; it can't be solved or cured.


Problem #5: Emotionalism: Tom is clearly smart enough to know he will get caught but he displays no corresponding emotions like worry, anxiety, concern. (If he's so uncaring about his fate, why should we care?)


Problem #6: Tom is like an 'automaton' in his scenes; he is mentally incompetent towards even the most normal interaction. He can't tell a pretty girl from a plain one; can't tell a disgusted reaction from a pleased one. He's utterly asexual. He doesn't even seem to realize the difference between male and female anatomy.

Other characters speak to him, but he "reads them" incorrectly just about every time. This then results in the poor actor not really knowing what to do, or how to emote. You want to throttle the guy because you realize that no one can possibly 'get through' to him no matter what they say.

He isn't even bright enough to grasp the ugliness of the harm and havoc he's creating.  He doesn't know why people aren't gleeful that he is stabbing them.


Problem #7: By the end of the movie --when we finally see how Tom's rein of incompetence is going to end-- incredibly, it is more maddening than ever. There is no satisfaction for us. Because --laughably--we see that he is going to do it himself. He's such a simpleton that he doesn't even need tricking into it. Somehow he wants to subject himself to the same agony he's been inflicting on others and end his life the same way. It makes no rational sense whatsoever.

Or rather, what little sense it does make is trite, picayune, niggling, and pointless. A character that doesn't even care about excruciating pain? He doesn't even understand that pain is bad and should be avoided?

Okay we get it --if that's what the director intended, so be it--but it is SILLY. Its not relevant to anyone else's life at all. It's not fascinating, it's stupid.


Bottom line: one of the worst movies I have ever been subjected to. What a colossal mess. Saw it on the BIG SCREEN too.


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