As sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searches for his missing boss he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of.
Mark Lewis, works as a focus puller in a British film studio. On his off hours, he supplies a local porno shop with cheesecake photos and also dabbles in filmmaking. A lonely, unfriendly, sexually repressed fellow, Mark is obsessed with the effects of fear and how they are registered on the face and behavior of the frightened. This obsession dates from the time when, as a child, he served as the subject of some cold-blooded experiments in the psychology of terror conducted by his own scientist father. As a grown man, Mark becomes a compulsive murderer who kills women and records their contorted features and dying gasps on film. His ongoing project is a documentary on fear. With 16mm camera in hand, he accompanies a prostitute to her room and stabs her with a blade concealed in his tripod, all the while photographing her contorted face in the throes of terror and death. Alone in his room, he surrounds himself with the sights and sounds of terror: taped screams, black-and-white "home ... Written by
Despite a long and distinguished career the production team of Powell and Pressberger were effectively ruined by the furore of criticism and demands for censorship generated by this film.
'Peeping Tom' is a great film and one that modern film makers could learn from. Even good films like 'Seven' and 'Silence of the Lambs' have a regretable tendency toward melodrama and gross overacting in the portrayal of serial killers. 'John Doe' (Kevin Spacey) and 'Buffalo Bill' (Ted Levine) are laughable travesties of their real life counterparts, who seem harmless when approaching or luring a potential victim.
One of the things that critics of his time could not forgive Powell is that he makes his killer 'Mark Lewis' (Karl Boehm) human and likeable. a sensitive and intelligent young man, he is the product of bestial cruelty inflicted upon him in childhood (the scenes showing film of him being tortured as a boy by his scientist father are horrifying in the true sense of the word)
This is a sophisticated film demanding of the viewer that he or she not only takes part in watching a compelling thriller but are also provoked into contemplating the forces that work on a man who commits such crimes.
After watching 'Peeping Tom' one does not have the customary closure common in such thrillers of seeing a 'monster' the viewer could not emphasise with destroyed and the world made safe again, (much the theory behind the justification of capital punishment). Rather we have the experience of seeing the tragic self destruction of a man arguably as much a victim as those he killed.
To critics this was reprehensible - 'siding with the murderer'. The man who wrote the script, however, knew at first hand what makes a killer - since he was responsible for selecting secret agents to fight behind enemy lines in World War 2. He had to choose men - and women - who would not hesitate to kill. How many writers can claim this level of insight?
'Peeping Tom' is a classic and I rate it an eye catching 9 out of 10
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