20 Jan 2015

SLASHER FILM RULES - Peeping Tom (1960)

Films have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  Are the slasher film rules true?

Peeping Tom (1960) is a serial killer film, called by some a precursor to slasher films, but does it follow the slasher film rules?

The following may include spoilers for
Peeping Tom (1960)

This doesn't warn the first victim.

Rule #1 - There Will Be A Warning...

There are no warnings until after the first murder, and of course, a murder or two in a city isn't a really good warning there's a murderer about.  The nature of the killer Mark Lewis MO means that he warns his victims immediately before their murder to capture their fear, but that's hardly a fair warning, either.

Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A

An extremely brief shot of a topless model.  Many photos on doors and magazine covers (but not focused on).  Not much, but as the topless shot is considered the first female nudity in a major British film I think it's fair to consider it significant nudity.

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

Mark is trying to record fear, however, the victims are all attractive females, which suggests it is a punishment for turning him on and perhaps reminding him of his step-mother.

A:  SEX - The prostitute offers sex for money (that's pretty much definitional).  Milly is a nude model with a string of concurrent boyfriends and fiancees who thinks it would be more interesting if she isn't safe modelling naked alone with Mark.  Although the offer (or suggestion of an offer) of sex is there in both cases sex doesn't occur (the prostitute is killed before sex, and we don't see anything but nude modeling in the second case.)
B:  NUDITY - Although the prostitute begins to get undress she is killed before she is naked.  Milly is seen topless (depending on the edit of the film).  Both are killed.  There is a scantily dressed model called Loraine who survives, and presumably given the nature of her work was naked in unseen events.
C:  DRINKING -  Helen and her mother both drink.  Both survive.
F:  OTHER CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR - Mark and Vivian are on the film set after hours and without authorisation.  It's pushing it, but hey, let's call it enough to punish her.  Then again both Helen and her mother enter Mark's room when he's not home...
H:  BYSTANDER - No bystander deaths.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

B: UPSTAIRS - Rather than running upstairs to escape, both Helen and her mother went to Mark's rooms when he wasn't there (counting more as "basement" than "upstairs." in intent.)
D:  SHEDS & OUT BUILDINGS - The movie set may count.  Vivian died there.
E:  THE FOREST - No forests.
F:  ANYWHERE ALONE - All three victims went somewhere alone with Mark, two of them knowing him and one a prostitute.  So only partially.

Rule #5 - Order of Death...

Only three victims this film.  I know, we're all disappointed.
First on screen - first to die.
A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - The first person on screen was a prostitute and the first victiom.  (Pass).
D:  THE BIMBO - Prostitute, worse, of course, then even a bimbo.
Milly, a nude model, is engaged, but was going out with someone else and later had a new boyfriend.  Also has shallow self-centered conversations in a girly voice.  (Pass).
G:  STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER - Vivian is borderline.  She's a bit air-headed and she's glamorous but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt Middle (Pass)
H:  THE PROTECTOR - Helen's mother.  Survives. (Pass)
I:  THE SENSITIVE GUY - Tony, the downstairs lodger.  Never endangered. (NA)
K:  THE FINAL GIRL - Helen Stephens.  Survives. (Pass).

Order of Death:

1.  Unnamed Prostitute [A, D]
2.  Vivian [G]
3.  Milly [D]
4.  Mark [The Killer]

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

None of the (now) usual things became an issue.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

Helen Stephens Mark's downstairs tennant.  Female and survives.
A:  FINAL - Yes.
B:  GIRL - Yes.
C:  MASCULINE - Not glamorous, like the victims, but not masculine really.  Not as busty and wears looser clothes.
D:  WELL DRAWN - Has her own plot going on, a library who is about to be a published children's author.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - Virginal: persumably, sure, Tony doted on her, but we saw nothing to say she did anything with him or anyone else.  Mostly innocent, had a party with drinking (but wanted a water - or was being polite).  Entered Mark's room, but not maliciously.
F:  WILL BE REBORN - Not really.  Not that we saw.  She didn't try to stop Mark killing himself and was upset by his death, so never really need the strength to believe him.  She didn't really even try to stop him killer her, he stopped himself..

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

A:  LOCATION - The killer worked at two of three locations of his murders.
B:  THE FINAL GIRL - Helen lives in Mark's house and he loves her.
D:  OTHER VICTIMS - Mark worked with two of the women he killed (and killed them at their shared workplace - how annoying must it be to be killed at work?)
E:  FEMININITY - He seems weak and socially awkward but not really female.
F:  SPECIFIC LOOK - No real specific look.
G:  SPECIFIC WEAPON - The only weapon camera with a knife built into the leg and a mirror so they can see their own fear.  Mark has a very person connection to the camera, and seemingly the mirror, as his father used them to torment him as a child.

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

B:  THE BAD GUY LIVES ON - Did not occur.
C:  EVIL IS IMMORTAL - Did not occur.

While he's just a guy not a supernatural force c makes sense, as well as partially b.  But a not counting is rare, even if action films.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

No sequels or remakes.  In fact, the film is credited with nearing ending director Michael Powell's career.


OK, at times (especially rules #5 and #7) it's a little forced, there's certainly signs that future rules apply to some extent, even in this film that isn't part of the genre.

The following rules were followed:  3, 5, 6.
The following rules were partially followed:  1, 4, 7, 9, 10.
The following rules were not followed: 2, 8. 


  • Not over as limited a duration as most slasher films.
  • Has extensive use of the killer's POV, both story-wise and with the camera.

~ DUG.

No comments:

Post a Comment