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October 1996, Week 5


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Mon, 28 Oct 1996 11:00:15 GMT
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In message  <[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask] writes:
> with ref to the "success" of PSYCHO and the awful "failure" of PEEPING TOM,
> enticknap's comments placing this development in historical context is
> extraordinarily enlightening . . . but i wonder if we need to go to that info
> in order to explain the reception of the two films . . . for it still seems to
> me pretty obvious that the narration of PSYCHO brings its "perverse" subject
> matter much closer to main stream classical genre cinema while the narration
> PT encourages the kinds of difficult audeince repsonses that are almost
> guaranteed to lead to resistance
> in other words, can't a formal or rhetorical analysis of the films serve as
> as a historicist account to explain the differences in reception?
> mike frank
I'd agree with you.  Peeping Tom, like Henry, Portrait of a Serial
Killer, denies the audience enjoyment through handling and presentation:
too much of the violence is left stark and unappealing.  It's and
intersting corrolation between the receptions of Psycho and Peeping
Tom, and Silence of The Lambs and Henry, Portait of a Serial Killer.
One the 'popular' side, we have Psycho and Silence of the Lambs, dealing
with the same level of violence and criminal killing as Peeping Tom
and Henry, both of them firmly on the 'unpopular' side.  Having broken
down the editing structure of Silence and comparing it to Henry, there
is a 'cinematic' appeal to Silence, that Henry, in my opinion, lacks.
The same can be said between Psycho and Peeping.
Having said that, one of my main complaints with Peeping Tom is how
unbeleivable I always found the deaths, and the obsession.  I first
saw Peeping Tom as a young child: like many in my generation film was
visite upon me early, via late night television.  Being incredibly
lucky, and living in a house of adults who all got up to go to work at
4am, I spent my nights quietly glued to illicit tv!  (Although my first
memory of it, is watching it on the  Saturday evening slot  in full
compay of the adults. )
Peeping Tom *never* scared me.  *never* felt logical, or consistent, and I
never felt I was 'in' the movie the way you fall into others.  It's only
as an adult I can make qualitive judgements based on form and style.  Those
adult judgements are only ever going to back up the main, original
reaction: it's boring.  Unlike Henry, - which I activiely dislike, and
hated watching.  Needless to say, I love Psycho, and adored Silence
at the time it was released, although I find that less satisfying after about
40 viewings over the years.
"Nunc denum intellego." dixit Winnie ille Pu.  "Stultus
et delusus fui." dixit "Et ursus sine ullo cerebro sum."
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