Possibly and arguably one of Britain’s greatest horror films, certainly one of my favorites. The tale of boy raised by his social conditioning nazi scientist of a father, brought up in a controlled environment whist producing research on obsessive observation, sneaky peeking and listening in when people are unknown.
The film starts off some years later. Mark (Carl Boehm) has become a crazy sexual serial killer. By day working as a cameraman, by night, stalking women, stabbing them in the neck whilst capturing their dying screams and distorted features on 16mm camera for his own viewing pleasure. His obsession leads him to capture numerous girls on film, always looking for the ultimate expression of death. But his mind is structured and confused in an OCD manner, the final scene reinforcing this with planned cameras rigged for a final performance.
Never has there been such a disturbing plot for a film, not to mention its release was way back in 1960 and caused all sorts of controversy, recognized as filthy, vile, sick and nasty. More shocking from my point of view was that this film was to end the glorious film career of Michael Powell, the stunning director famous for ‘Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and Colonel Blimp. Critics just didn’t get this film, but watching it today is a glorious event.
From the opening scene, we know who the murder is, follow his actions, see his reasoning and day to day events. His mind truly captured on the screen, a portrait of a damaged, conditioned mind. Yet what Powell manages to withhold is the last piece in the puzzle, the reasoning for the extreme distorted shock on the girls faces. Sure they are getting filmed, they are getting stabbed, but what is Mark doing to gain absolute bloody shock and horror in an expression. It all becomes clear lat on in the final moments of the film, which is a brilliant moment, one of cinema’s greatest.
As you can expect, Powell shoots the film like a dream, which flows easily, enjoyable even though the subject matter is grim. The viewer is captivated as to reasons for murder and the reasons for shock. The script is beautifully written, very British and executed perfectly by it’s cast. You won’t regret giving this one a chance. Stunning absolute classic.