Cinematically Kubular

Ramblings about cinema – probably focusing on Argento and gender.

Tag: Michael Powell

Watching Nuns Go Mad (Black Narcissus)

Black Narcissus (1947, Powell, UK) is one of those really refreshing films you only see once every couple of years or so. And it’s not a horror.

Well, not really.

Black Narcissus is a drama/thriller about some nuns that set up a convent somewhere very high in India. They subsequently find themselves with the time to reflect on their own past and end up torturing themselves with their own weaknesses and anxieties.

I don’t want to say too much about it, partly because I don’t want to give it away. But I also don’t feel I could do it justice. The main reason I’m writing this is because I really feel that it’s a film worth watching and worth encouraging as many other people to watch as possible.

Peeping Tom – A Quick Peek

So, in the previous post I recommended Peeping Tom, a British film directed by Michael Powell and released in 1960. I’m conscious that I didn’t really go any deeper than link to a trailer I found on YouTube. If, after having watched the trailer you’re still unsure/not convinced I feel I should explain the reasons for my recommendation (my good taste obviously not being reason enough).

There are probably two reasons I recommended Peeping Tom. The first of those reasons is that it’s fantastic. The second is it’s historical importance to the development of ‘horror’ cinema. To be honest, I’m surprised it didn’t find it’s way onto BFI’s Greatest Films poll this year. Though it’s reassuring to see Michael Powell appear in the top 250 multiple times. Anyone who has seen Scream 4 (2011) will have heard it referenced along with Suspiria (1977), and Psycho (1960).

Peeping Tom shocked audiences and critics alike on release and received serious negative criticism – some sources claim enough to damage Powell’s British career. Even David Cronenberg’s Videdrome (1983) doesn’t attack/identify the audience in as direct a way as Peeping Tom. Through editing, symbolism and point of view the film not only identifies the audience with the role of the murderer but then proceeds to make the act of voyeurism equal to rape.

In today’s culture TV programs such as Big Brother are popular viewing and Paparazzi make a living by stalking celebrities to sate our constant desire for more knowledge/gossip of their daily lives. It’s my opinion that Peeping Tom is not only wonderfully entertaining, it’s also just as (if not more) relevant now as it was when it was released. And for those with an interest, Peeping Tom helped form the future of the slasher genre and laid the groundwork for films such as Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso (1975) and OPERA (1987).


Profondo Rosso and OPERA are usually released as Deep Red and Terror at the Opera in the UK, respectively.