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  • The Bearden of Knowledge

What the Peeper Saw

Dir. James Kelley & Andrea Bianchi (1972)

A wealthy man's second wife begins to suspect her young stepson killed his mother.


Today, we're reviewing a "giallo" that's really a collaboration of Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. It's 1972's What The Peeper Saw. The film is directed by Joe Kelley, but even more importantly, co-directed and co-written by a lesser known giallo director, Andrea Bianchi. Bianchi is most notable for Strip Nude For Your Killer. Rumors say he was hired to further "exploit" the film, but 52-year-old rumors are just that: rumors. Fuck I'm old!

This is a giallo that doesn't contain many giallo aspects besides music, setting, and a standard close-up giallo eye showdown towards the end. But, man, this film deals with some pretty gross stuff. The film follows a young 12-year-old boy named Marcus, played by Mark Lester, and his stepmother Elise played  by Britt Eklund of Wicker Man fame. It has a strange start, with a naked lady convulsing in a tub and diverges to "x" amount of months/days/years later. Dad's remarried but his son hasn't seen his new mom for 90 days. Cue... film.


When Elise finally meets Marcus, this becomes a pretty twisted cat and mouse game between Elise and Marcus. Like I said, the movie starts off with the death of one mother and the birth of another. Dad's out of town when the new mom arrives, and she's greeted by 12 year old Marcus, who immediately starts acting weird and hyper-sexual towards Elise. I can see why this was controversial. Some things always will be. 1972 or 2024, certain things are never cool. But, it's also why this is a pretty well-known film.

Marcus is a bad kid. Like, REALLY bad! Dennis the Menace on steroids, this kid is messed up! Animal cruelty, sexual desires,  lies, and manipulations... this kid is a piece of work! The twists and turns continue when the father comes home. We start to see Marcus' manipulations as he lies and sows seeds of distrust between Elise and his father. We also find out his father knows about his sons proclivities and vehemently denies them. Without spoilers, we see through certain events (including a high-end party with a nude person laying on a table, covered in fruit, apparently getting smothered by a piece of watermelon) that first mommy may not have died of natural causes! Shock and awe!

This movie is a weird and super controversial giallo. To give too much away would ruin it. But the fact that it deals with this gross subject matter cements it as a hard to forget film. In today's age, if the central roles were gender-swapped, this would never be made. Again, this is a weird giallo. It is pretty psychological, and it really only has 2 kills. But, fuck me, if that last kill wasn't 100% deserved, and a perfect act of revenge. This film won't be for everyone, and I definitely don't suggest it for a family night watch-along due to the subject matter. But, there's just enough here to satiate hard-core giallo fans. I, myself, rather liked it, and you can stream it now on Plex. 

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