A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.


Michael Powell


Leo Marks (original story), Leo Marks (screenplay)





Complete credited cast:
Karlheinz Böhm ... Mark Lewis (as Carl Boehm)
Moira Shearer ... Vivian
Anna Massey ... Helen Stephens
Maxine Audley ... Mrs. Stephens
Brenda Bruce ... Dora
Miles Malleson ... Elderly Gentleman Customer
Esmond Knight ... Arthur Baden
Martin Miller ... Dr. Rosen
Michael Goodliffe ... Don Jarvis
Jack Watson ... Chief Insp. Gregg
Shirley Anne Field ... Pauline Shields (as Shirley Ann Field)
Pamela Green ... Milly


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 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 movies" of convulsed... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What made this the most diabolical murder weapon ever used? See more »


Drama | Horror | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The phrase "Peeping Tom" comes from the boy who looked at Lady Godiva while she rode naked on a horse through the village, even though all were warned not to look at her. See more »


Amongst the police paperwork inspected by Chief Inspector Gregg are at least two documents pertaining to the film world (and so were probably just on hand when dressing the set): one is from a member of Navy Heroes's crew, requesting the return of his insurance card. See more »


[first lines]
[Mark approaches the prostitute, covertly filming her]
Dora: It'll be two quid
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film proved to be problematic for the BBFC who demanded around 7 mins of cuts. Among these were reductions to the murder scenes, closeups of the spike on Mark's camera, all shots of nude girls in photo albums and on colour slides, closeups of a woman's disfigured face, shots of Milly lying on the bed, and dialogue during the conversation between the police officers in the car. Later video and DVD releases contain much of the footage, suggesting that not all of the cuts were made, although the original uncut print now appears to be lost forever. See more »


Referenced in Exhibit A (2007) See more »

User Reviews

Usettling and eerie thriller about a ruthless psychopath who lures and records his victims
18 August 2018 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

A shocking , unnerving and controversial film at the time , that caused real controversy , being no apt for the easily nauseated or sickened ; in fact it was extremely panned by critics . It deals with a psychopath called Mark Lewis , Karlheinz Bhom , who lures women before his film camera , then he records their feared faces . Meanwhile , two police inspectors , Jack Watson and Nígel Davenport , are investigating the weird events .

Disturbing subject matter about a psychopatic cameraman who uses his camera to record women's agonies , it is rendered breathtakingly by a great director , the British Michael Powell who performs briefly the part of Mark's abusive daddy , as he is shown on home movies harassing and tormenting the little boy ; furthermore , including a brilliant cinematography by Otto Heller. This is a splendid , thrilling , and gripping as well as adult entertainment, no recommended for nervous or squeamish . A classy of its kind but ultimately not for everyone . Powell is usually associated to great and colorful films , but here he made one of the most terrifying and frightening contributions to the cinema of the macabre since WWII. The killings themselves are horrifyingly tense , causing panic and fear . Karl Bohm gives a nice acting as the ruthless psychopath young photographing his terrified victims at his hand , he couldn't be bettered as the horrible and cruel psycho. Support cast is frankly excellent, such as : Anna Massey, Maxine Audley as her mother , Moira Shearer , Shirley Anne Field , Keith Baxter , Michael Goodliffe , Brenda Bruce , Esmond Knight , Miles Malleson , Martin Miller , Nigel Davenport, Jack Watson, among others.

The motion picture was originally made by Michael Powell , but it was so vilified by reviewers and officials alike , that he didn't work in Great Britain for a very long time. As the original uncut version was not realised until 1970 . Michael started working at various jobs in the English studios of Denham and Pinewood on a series of quota quickies . Later on , he made all kinds of genres with penchant for Dramas , Musical and WWII films . As he directed : The tales of Hoffman , The red shoes , The elusive Pimpernel , Pursuit of Graf Spee , The small black room , Black narcisus , Contraband , The thief of Bagdad , Edge of the world , I know where I am going , Night ambush , The lion has wings , Spy in black , The forty-ninth parallel , One of our aircrafts is missing, Life and death of Colonel Blimp , Canterbury tale . Many of them are considered masterpieces, and being produced under banner his production company : The Archers , along with Emeric Pressburger . Powell was rediscovered in the late 1960s and early 70s by Martín Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola . In fact , Powell worked as Senior in Coppola's Zoetrope Studios and he married Scorsese's longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker. He died of cancer in 1990.

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Release Date:

December 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Face of Fear See more »

Filming Locations:

Fitzrovia, London, England, UK See more »


Box Office


GBP135,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

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