OOM #12 – Peeping Tom (1960)

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Greetings travelers! Welcome to the horror madness that I’ve put myself through. No one talked me into this, it was only me that came forward trying to do something interesting about horror films in a daily basis, and here I am, talking and writing and yapping away. Today the movie comes also from 1960, just like yesterday, as it’s the next from my personal list that I had to see, and that’s because the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness of today, our guide and counselor in terms of what films we end up seeing, chose the Oscar winning thriller/horror film ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991), and in the video he makes a compelling case for it not only as a horror movie, but also as one of the great films of all time, and you can see that video here Me? I’m stuck with a wonderful pervert and one of the most important and influential horror films ever made, ‘Peeping Tom’ (1960) is where w go today.

There’s a bunch of great scenes in this great movie, and maybe one of the greatest is the one that prevents me from having this movie as a masterpiece that it undoubtedly is. At one moment, in the last third of the film, our protagonist that we’ve seen killing and filming the deceased as they curl in terror as well as when they are discovered by the police or other people, approaches a psychiatrist that is on the movie set, trying to appease the main actress, who saw a dead body and thus can’t seem to be in control of her emotions. In an intelligently designed scene, Mark (our protagonist, the killer) hops on a studio lift with this shrink and talks about his father, the studies that he left unfinished and the term ‘scoptophilia’, which is described in film as the “irresistible urge to watch”, when obviously there’s a sexual element attached to it, which is obviously ignored, and then goes on to describe a way to cure it. This might be the equivalent of the “he’s not a transvestite” line in ‘Psycho’ (1960), released the same year and usually accompanied by this one in terms of importance to the horror genre, a moment that in the Hitchcock film surely feels didactic and even cringe-worthy in a really modern way, it’s also just one line that is quickly discarded, here we are given the complete definition of what’s going on in the mind of our character. Sadly, when one finally understand what’s going on in that head, I stopped caring about what he did, mainly because he didn’t want to be cured, and thus he became a psychopath, a slasher monster, a man that was reduced to his circumstances and the urges that he needs to fulfill, much like an urban legend needs to be conjured, here Mark presents himself as the harbinger of the most awful type of death: the one you can witness with your own eyes before it pierces your throat.

Completely masterful and an interesting argument against the liberty of creativity, this movie just follows around the main character with the most expressive and colorful cinematography, this movie managed to stir a lot of controversy due to the fact that we are given the position and at times even the point of view of a murderer, something that was unthinkable at the time, to be sent through the story through the eyes of someone that is killing and filming and seeing.It’s without a doubt one of the greatest movies ever made, with an incredible amount of layers from which to tackle. Today I offer you none, today what I offer you is my personal reserve against one of the scenes, and even at that it was a masterful and incredible scene, one that stuck to my mind ever I was much younger and I saw parts of this movie on TV, and the ‘scoptophilia’ episode is one that was burned in my mind, even if right now it has another meaning.

9/10

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