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Lizards in Movies
Peeping Tom (1960)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
Peeping Tom Peeping Tom Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom Peeping Tom Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom Peeping Tom Peeping Tom
This is the horror film that ruined the career of Michael Powell, the director whose previous collaborations with Emeric Pressburger created many British film classics, such as The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and Stairway to Heaven. It would seem that people just weren't ready in 1961 to see a sick compulsive serial killer on screen - except for the fact that Hitchcock's Psycho was released more than a year earlier. Of course, nowadays Peeping Tom is considered a masterpiece and the progenitor of slasher films.

Mark, the Peeping Tom of the title, works in a film studio and sells cheesecake photos to porn shops in his spare time. Another of his hobbies is making a documentary film showing the expressions of terror on women's faces as he kills them. He's the quiet boy-next-door psycho-killer who everybody always describes to the news reporters as the last person they would ever suspect of being capable of such horrible crimes.

When Mark's next-door neighbor Helen pays a visit, he shows her an old black-and-white movie made by his father when Mark was a young boy. He explains that his father, a brilliant biologist, was interested in the reactions of the nervous system to fear, especially in children. He filmed Mark continually as he was growing up because he wanted a record of a growning child. In the home movie, we see Mark sleeping in bed as a lizard is dropped on his bed. He wakes up terrified as the lizard crawls around the bedcovers then crawls towards him. Mark's own obsession with recording women's terrified faces was obviously formed by his own experiences as a boy. What I don't understand is why a young boy would be so terrified of a lizard. I was crazy about them at his age. Maybe it's because Great Britain has only two species of lizards with legs, plus one without.

The movie also contains footage of Mark and his father spying on a couple who are kissing in a park. These things are obviously meant to give us the psychological background for his psycopathic behavior - his father's "research." If the root of real mental problems were as simple as they are shown here and in most movies, then we'd all be perfectly sane and all the pharmaceutical companies would be bankrupt, along with the rest of the mental-health-industrial-complex.

The lizard appears to be some type of Agamid lizard.