'Peeping Tom' Film

Peeping Tom is a Michael Powell film about a serial killer and voyeurism that was released in 1960 right before Hitchcock's Psycho. Peeping Tom was a box office failure; Psycho was a smash hit. Why?


I haven't seen Peeping Tom, but Wikipedia says "The film revolves around a serial killer who murders women while using a portable film camera to record their dying expressions of terror, putting his footage together into a snuff film used for his own self pleasure." I think I see the problem. It's one thing to suggest that we are all voyeurs really, as Hitchcock does, but it's quite another to expect audiences to identify with a serial killer and enjoy participating in murder through the killer's point of view. This subjective narrative technique just didn't appeal in 1960 and it was not adopted by later popular horror movie series, like the slasher films Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Peeping Tom may have appealed to the psychoanalytically inclined, but to no one else. Audiences could look past the sadism and misogyny, but the accusatory irony of the film is ladled on too thick.