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Peeping Tom (The Criterion Collection)


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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.

Special Features

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

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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022629
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,998 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Peeping Tom (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

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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30 of 31 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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15 of 17 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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Grant on February 13, 2001
Format: DVD
In a day and age where the importance of film in our society grows in leaps and bounds everyday, Michael Powell's devastating and completely unforgettable "Peeping Tom" levels the most convincing argument that we don't just watch films... we live them. The killer in "Peeping Tom" is a kind, shy, almost child-like man who, as the son of a scientist father forever obsessed with the fear of children, was tormented as a child. Many times his father would shine lights in the sleeping boy's eyes or drop lizards onto his bed in order to frighten the child, all the while recording his reactions on film. When the boy grows up, he carries on his father's work... maybe a little too well. He decides that the greatest fear experienced comes at the point of death. He conceals a knife in the tripod of his ever-present camera and films his victims as they slowly realize their fate. He also (in a move Hitchcock would envy) forces them to watch their own frightened faces with a small mirror attached to the front of the camera. He desires fear and he goes to extreme lengths to achieve it in his victims. The movie not only asks us to sympathize with the killer (played with a certain charm and yet an air of repellance by Carl Boehm) but also participate in his crimes. We see what he sees while filming them, while watching his footage at home, we are (very eerily) immersed into his film. We are right beside him, watching his victims and relishing in their terror. The camera the killer carries is more of an extension of himself then merely a way of recording what he sees. When his lovely neighbor kisses him, his face remains immobile, as if he doesn't quite know what's going on.Read more ›
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