Wednesday, March 3, 2010

'Peeping Tom': Don't Look into the Lens

Posted By on Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 3:49 PM

At The Belcourt 7 p.m. tonight, don't miss the first night of Michael Powell's notorious 1960 shocker Peeping Tom, part of the theater's Noir Fest 2 roundup of British and French crime thrillers. Scene contributor Jason Shawhan is introducing tonight's feature with a little talk he calls "A Brief History of Snuff Culture and Other Ways of Seeing." Here's the Scene's review:
Although it came out the same year as his countryman Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Michael Powell's 1960 horror movie was vilified for its queasy linkage of sex, violence, passive voyeurism and moviegoing -- elements Hitchcock rode to the bank. Powell's career never recovered, but today this legendary shocker looks decades ahead of its time. Carl Boehm plays Mark, a stammering shutterbug who films pretty women with a movie camera that has two special attachments: a spear that impales the subject, and a mirror that allows the victim to watch her moment of death. The mirror places the audience in the roles of watcher, killer and victim all at once, and that implication gives this proto-slasher/snuff movie its grisly resonance. It makes the connection most horror movies don't dare -- between the lust and bloodlust of screen monsters and the darkest longings of their real-life fans. And Powell doesn't exempt his own motives as a filmmaker. The man playing Mark's father, the scientist who tortures his son and records the results in home movies -- that's Michael Powell. Part of The Belcourt's Noir Fest 2. March 3-5 at The Belcourt.

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