Peeping Tom


I don’t like horror films. I like documentaries about bottling plants. Naturally therefore, I have not seen Peeping Tom, the 1960 horror film that was so evil they had to ban it (by ‘they’ I of course mean Stanley Kubrick, Jimmy Saville and Giant Haystacks, the erstwhile champion of British wrestling). Here is my review:

Have you ever seen Jaws? How about that scene in Reservoir Dogs in which Michael Madsen puckers up his heavy pork-chop face into a nasty snicker and whittles off a policeman’s ear? If so, there’s a good chance that you have unwittingly participated in an illegal and inhumane act. Little did you realise, as Jaws spunked up from ’neath the puffy billows of the ocean, and took clumsy, bitey chomps out of delicious portions of mankind, that through the simple act of observing it on a two-dimensional screen, you had as good as become a cannibal. For, there is a persuasive school of thought, spearheaded by directors such as Lars Von Trier and Michael Haneke, who argue that to view is to be complicit. Save it sir, save it for your lawyers. I don’t make the rules. We must each deal with the moral burden that falls unto our ethical bumbag (as ’twere). You saw it: you done it.

This at least is the sub-textual premise of Peeping Tom. He peeps on womenfolk then kills them; you peep on him doing it therefore you also kill them (or him – I forget which). Frequently while watching this film I had to remind myself that it was not I holding the murderous drill. On the contrary, I was clutching a family bag of Minstrels, an extra-large Fanta and my mobile phone. This however, as Rumpole of the Bailey would have objected, is merely circumstantial. I saw it: I done it.

Such indeed was my fear at being arrested and convicted of the crimes of Peeping Tom that I spent the larger part of the film constructing unconvincing alibis in my feverish brain and worrying about how I would afford a defence lawyer. This diminished my viewing pleasure considerably. The only way to avoid culpability, it seems, is to find out the entire plot of a film before going to see it so that you can find out whether anything illegal or creepy happens in it. If it does: stay at home. If not: go to the cinema, but keep your hands up by your eyes so that you can shield them quickly so as not to become complicit in case any unexpected unsavoury acts are occurring on screen.

So that you might escape my fate, here is a distilled summary of Peeping Tom: As a youth, Tom pleasures himself with a Black and Decker drill; his nanny peeps on him and remonstrates with him; this turns him into a serial killer; he peeps on a succession of women then kills them; he gets caught and, in court, tries to pass himself off as a harmless Ham-Burglar-style comedy villain; the judge falls for it; he gets off with two weeks community service. The end.


6 Responses to “Peeping Tom”

  1. Banjo Fett Says:

    Scoo-beef, haff anybody got any bottle oran-joof?

    No I didn’t mean to write that. It just happened. What I wanted to say was that my film tutor at college was always banging on about ‘narcissistic scopophilia’. That is like a posh word for peepin’ at folks on the screen while they do bad murders and whatnot.

    Or, say, watching Hugh Grant swing his ginormous fringe about at some Hollywood sweetheart while you munch your sweaty popcorns and wiggle your toes in delight. That’s ‘narcissistic scopophilia’.


    Sorry. What I mean is that I’ll finish reading this review later. The first half reminded me of the big words what I learned at college and I felt the need to share.

  2. johnlebaptiste Says:

    Kewl. Let’s try that scene again.

    I thought scopophilia was the use of periscopes by subterranean paedophiles, or the use of kaleidoscopes by hippy paedophiles. I obviously need to pull my lexicographical shit together.

  3. Banjo Fett Says:

    That’d be ‘periphilia’ (not to be confused with ‘paraphernalia’) and ‘kaledophilia’, respectively, I expect, respectfully.

    But I certainly don’t mean to question your lexicographical shit. Your lexicographical shit is well bum, I think we’d all agree.

  4. johnlebaptiste Says:

    It is fairly bum I guess.

  5. pariahrustbucket Says:

    Dumbo: Uncut. Dumbo outlives his useful career and is turned into two exquisite ivory toothpicks and a set of travelling-cases. I saw it: I done it.

  6. johnlebaptiste Says:

    You done it alright Pariah. They found tusk fibres in your ploughman’s lunch. You’re looking at a twenty-thirty stretch in Sing-Sing, a bum rap in stir, and a bag of tough bird in chokey – no chimps’ tea party.

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