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
Mark's red scooter is a 1958 Dayton Albatross Deluxe. See more »
Mark plays a tape recording of himself aged 5, made by his father who had every room in the house wired. Domestic tape recorders were not available until the late 1940s, when Mark would would have been at least 10. See more »
[Mark approaches the prostitute, covertly filming her]
It'll be two quid
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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 »
It's difficult to imagine the effect that this film had on critics and audiences when first shown as in the 90's we have become desensitized by the violence and cruelty of slasher movies.
Yet even today this film is deeply disturbing. The lead character is portrayed in a sympathetic light, thanks to a stunning performance from Carl Boem. He is a victim of a cruel and abusive father, desperate to escape the curse that has been handed down to him. There are some memorable scenes: the home movie showing him and his father (played by Michael Powell and his own son), the shot of the beautiful model turning round and showing her hare lip and the projection of one of the murders to the blind mother, with part of the frame projecting onto the murderer.
This is a deeply unnerving film but brilliantly made. Go see.
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