Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Peeping Tom (1960)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)

In director Michael Powell's highly-disturbing, British psychological horror film about voyeurism - one of the earliest slasher films and a variation on Psycho (1960); it was a film that was savaged by critics and nearly destroyed Powell's directorial career:

  • in the shocking opening title credits sequence filmed from the point-of-view of the voyeuristic camera's cross-haired viewfinder, the scene of Mark Lewis' (Carl Boehm) stalking and filming of the murder of call-girl/prostitute Dora (Brenda Bruce) who he met on a dark London street; after she negotiated for two quid ("It'll be two quid"), she walked upstairs to her cheap apartment, disrobed, and then gave a look of horror as she was being murdered; the photographer Mark would then watch the projected grisly footage over and over in the darkness of his lab-studio; his viewing of this particular death was accompanied by the film's opening title and credits
Opening Title Credits Murder of Prostitute Dora
  • this was the 'voyeuristic' chilling story of shy, reclusive and disturbed young cameraman (and psychopath) Mark who murdered women with his 16mm camera (with a cross-haired viewfinder creating a POV shot) at the time of their deaths with an ingenious mirror device attached so that his screaming, red-headed female victims could watch themselves die (after being impaled by the sharp spiked leg of his camera tripod that was plunged into their throats); he was also perversely obsessed with voyeuristically capturing the moment of death and the fear it caused (the look of distorted, fearful faces in a mirror); it was an affliction termed scopophilia, the morbid urge to gaze
  • also the scene of the viewing of b/w home movies with red-haired female friend Helen Stephens (Anna Massey), his downstairs neighbor/tenant who lived with her blind mother Mrs. Stephens (Maxine Audley) - they were films of Mark's abused childhood when he was mentally tormented by his professor-father (director Michael Powell himself) and experiments about fear were conducted on him (e.g., his reaction to the lizard dropped on his bed, his mother's corpse, or his father's new young wife)
  • on the side, Mark sold photographs ("views") of his soft-core, nude pin-up photo shoots to a round-faced neighborhood store-owner (Bartlett Mullins), who pedaled the pornography to elderly male customers (Miles Malleson)
  • the film's unsavory view of the perverted and morbid crimes perpetrated (and witnessed almost as "snuff films") upon unsuspecting female victims:
    - Dora (Brenda Bruce), a prostitute
    - Vivian (Moira Shearer), an actress-dancer and studio stand-in
    - Milly (Pamela Green), a model
One of Mark's Spiked Tripod Leg Murders
Red Haired Vivian (Moira Shearer)
  • in the final murder scene, model Milly (Pamela Green, a real-life 50s pin-up) asked herself as she reclined backward (while Mark closed the blinds): "I might as well talk to a zombie. Is it safe to be alone with you, I wonder? It might be more fun if I wasn't." His shadow covered her face, as he moved and stood above her nude body, when she momentarily revealed one nude breast [Note: It was reportedly the first nudity in British film history]; the film faded to black with loud piano chords on the soundtrack, before she was murdered (off-screen)
  • the conclusion: Mark's own suicidal death (in the same horrific manner that he often used) when he impaled himself in the neck with his own spiked device, as he spoke to spared Helen: "Helen, Helen, I'm afraid...And I'm glad I'm afraid," and then slumped to the floor before the police arrived; the last lines of the film were from a tape recording of his childhood, made by his father (Father: "Don't be a silly boy. There's nothing to be afraid of!" Young Mark: "Good night, Daddy. Hold my hand")
Threatening but Sparing Helen - Then Suicide

Viewing B/W Home Movies with Helen - Mark's Abused Childhood

Threatening Blind Mrs. Stephens

POV of Threatened Victim: "I made them watch their own deaths"

Murder of Nude Model Milly


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