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Peeping Tom (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Karlheinz Böhm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley, Brenda Bruce
  • Directors: Michael Powell
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 1999
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022629
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,348 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Peeping Tom (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Production stills gallery
  • Channel 4 U.K. documentary A Very British Psycho directed by Chris Rodley

Editorial Reviews

A frank exploration of voyeurism and violence, Michael Powell's extraordinary film is the story of a psychopathic cameraman-his childhood traumas, sexual crises, and murderous revenge as an adult. Reviled by critics upon its initial release for its deeply unsettling subject matter, the film has since been hailed as a masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend it to any fan of film and film history.
Amazon Customer
I found it a very striking film, which explores - using the device of a serial killer photographer - the voyeur that is, to some extent, in all of us.
Paul Fogarty
What you will find is a colorful, quiet movie about a very disturbed young man looking for a way out of his personal darkness.
Jeffrey Leach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Michael Powell is one of the great British film directors, his credits including such diverse fare as The Thief of Baghdad, the Red Shoes and the unforgettable Stairway to Heaven. Peeping tom was his first and only foray into horror.Though this film is often compared to Psycho (Powell worked with Hitchcock in the 20's and 30's before Hitch moved to the States), it is different in several respects. First, the film is told entirely from the point of view of the killer. we don't have the luxury of really getting to know our victims the way Hitch lets us know Marion Crane. Secondly, our killer, Mark Lewis (played quietly by Karl Boehm), seems to regard his being caught by police as inevitable, and is in fact preparing to film his apprehenshion as part of his perverse "fear documentary". Thirdly, Powell filmed his masterpiece in sickeningly vivid color, allowing us no distance between the killer and his acts.The film was critically reviled upon its initial release in 1960. Though sad, it's easy to understand. Powell wanted to include the audience in Mark's disturbing voyeurism, essentially implicating them as well. Since film are essentially a socially acceptable form of voyeurism, it's easy to see why critics, who make their living watching movies, might have been insulted. Since critics are to the arts what pigeons are to statuary, they deserve it.Many people might shrink from this movie due to its disturbing nature and lurid subject matter. Too bad. It's very well made and has something pertinent to say about cinema, human psychology, and the world around us. Many people sometimes think that movies about bad people are bad cinema. The only depressing movies are badly made ones. Peeping Tom is a great movie about a bad person.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Richard A Martin on March 17, 2000
Format: DVD
This wonderfully creepy 1960 horror film predates Psycho by about 3 months and predates the "slasher" film by about 16 years and, in braving new ground which deviated from the Gothic Horror film movement spawned by Hammer Films in 1957, helped move horror from the Gothic castles to the house next door.Michael Powell's film presents us with a young man who is so fascinated by the subject of fear, that he stalks young women and kills them while filming their deaths with his movie camera. In to the young man's world, comes a young woman who only wants to understand him and love him, but will she find out his horrible secret before its too late?While lambasted by critics who condemend the film for being "The sickets and filthiest film I can remember seeing . . .", Peeping Tom in one of the most interesting horror films of the early 60s. It was the critical attacks against the film and Powell himself which prompted Hitchcock not to have a critics screening for his new film about a killer, "Psycho", which premiered a few months later.This Criterion release has all the thrills of the laser disk release (trailers, audio commentary, still gallery) plus a wonderful BBC documentary on the making of Peeping Tom called "A Very British Psycho".A fine presention of a classicly disturbing film. WELL DONE !
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Found Highways VINE VOICE on June 27, 2005
Format: DVD
That's what Helen tells Mark in his projection room. Helen gets her wish later, when she watches a film Mark shot, and she gradually realizes it's not staged, but a real murder. Helen wants Mark to tell her that it's "just a film, isn't it?"

We've already seen the terror on the faces of women Mark has killed, so we know what Helen sees. We can't turn away any more than she can, even as she backs out of the room, knowing but not wanting to admit that the man she loves put a blade through women's throats and photographed them watching their own deaths with a mirror attached to the camera.

Like Psycho, Peeping Tom is the story of a grown-up child who can't get rid of a parent. But Peeping Tom is better. The characters in Peeping Tom are more believable than the puppets Hitchcock moves around to create his "pure cinema." As freakish as Norman Bates is, as a personification of insanity he's as much a straw figure as Mother in the attic.

Peeping Tom offended its audiences so much that it was pulled from theaters, wrecking director Michael Powell's career, so the story goes.

Peeping Tom isn't more violent or sexually explicit than other movies from the time. We turn away from the victims as Mark's blade enters their throats. Even when he uses his camera-weapon on himself we don't see any blood. More horrific is Anna Massey as Helen watching the snuff film Mark left on the projector. (Did he leave it for her to find because he wanted her to see "the documentary" he was making, the way she showed him the children's book she was writing?) The scene that made me cringe the most was Mark playing tape recordings his father (an experimental biologist) made while exposing his son to frightening stimuli.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 9, 2005
Format: DVD
When Peeping Tom was first released in 1960, it was universally reviled by critics and audiences alike for its sadism and mixing of sex and violence, and essentially ended the career of its director, Michael Powell. To say it was misunderstood at the time would be an understatement, as over time it has come to be recognized as a masterpiece of filmmaking. It is often compared with Psycho in terms of shock value, but Peeping Tom's Mark Lewis makes Norman Bates look like the Easter Bunny by comparison.

Carl Boehm plays Mark Lewis, by day a camera assistant at a film studio, by night a photographer for girly magazines who murders women and films them while he's doing so. Why does he do so? It gives him a sexual rush to see the fear in their eyes when they realize they are going to be killed. His father was a biologist, he explains to Helen (Anna Massey), a young woman who lives in his building, and his father was especially interested in fear in children, so he made Mark a test subject. You can see the connection here: a bruised childhood leading to abnormal adult behavior.

The relationship between Mark and Helen is a peculiar one. She is terribly curious about him; at first she seems to think he's a nice young man, but during their first encounter, Mark shows her some strange film and she becomes outraged, yet she does not run away. Her interest in him seems to only grow, despite his clearly creepy ways. In an ordinary film, Mark would be a villain, and we would hate him, because he is a murderer. But what Peeping Tom asks is for us to sympathize with this man, because it is not entirely his fault that he is the way he is. The major conflict in the film is between Mark and himself, as he struggles to suppress his urges and contain his own fears.
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