What the Peeper Saw (1972)
I realized going in that the title alone signaled something of a risqué viewing but I had no idea just how far the blatant sexual content of the politically incorrect kind was in this Britt Ekland – Hardy Kruger thriller that sees a fourteen year old Mark Lester score top billing. A British sex comedy in the Carry On vein this is not.
The opening of the film sees a woman disrobe, climb into a whirlpool bath only to struggle to keep her head above the water. To no avail she’s soon dead. Cut to sexy Britt arriving at a large estate in the Spanish countryside in what can only be called a very Giallo feeling to the whole proceedings. It’s here she’ll meet the adolescent Lester. He immediately comes off as an arrogant, entitled little bastard and thoroughly unlikable. It soon becomes obvious that Miss Ekland has married an older man, Hardy Kruger and she at the age of 22 (in the script) is closer in age to Mark than she is Hardy. While the two await Hardy’s return from a business trip, Britt is going to soon learn that young Mark isn’t above grabbing a breast or two when the opportunity presents itself.
There’s a certain amount of uncomfortableness in the air.
Upon Kruger’s return, Britt will find herself on the defensive when the youngster begins twisting the truths into lies in an effort to set Kruger against his new young wife. He sets her up as both a liar and a thief. Honestly, I’d like to throttle the little S.O.B. When Britt goes to see the school master to learn more about her new stepson and the reason for his expulsion behind Kruger’s back, she’ll learn she has the makings of a serial killer living under the same roof. Turning up for an extended cameo is the authoritative Harry Andrews as the school’s principle.
In reference to the title, Britt is to discover that there’s a peephole from the attic into her bedroom and she’s sure that the sexually curious Lester who draws vivid pictures of the sexual act has been spying on her and Kruger. The kid’s got her so twisted up that she and we the viewers are beginning to wonder just what his first mother actually died of in the opening scene of the film. Was it a heart attack as Kruger suggests? Was she murdered by his hand and perhaps the young Mark witnessed it? Could the little devil have actually killed his Mother?
Marital discord is definitely on the rise as is Britt’s drinking. She admits to Kruger she fears for her life and is convinced Lester is going to kill her. When Kruger is next out of town, the film turns rather shocking with a particular scene that sees Britt disrobe in order to pry information from the fourteen year old. Honestly, I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing on camera. According to her autobiography True Britt it’s this scene in particular that left Britt “filled with shame because my critics were justified in their comments.” This had to do with scathing reviews and attacks against her for previous comments she made concerning nudity and explicit films being produced with very little in the way of films made for children.
There’s still a mystery to unravel and the film does deliver a tense scene between Britt and a psychiatrist played by Lilli Palmer. Should you give this one a go, it’s really the highlight of the film leading to the final outcome and an understanding of just what’s been going on.
Having seen the blu ray release from VCI in the 95 minute cut of the film directed by James Kelley, it’s easy to see what would have been cut for the 89 minute version of the film also known as Child of the Night. In her autobiography Britt refers to it as Night Hair Child. Perhaps the original script title?
Not quite the Giallo thriller I thought I might be getting into and far from socially acceptable, it does have a creepy feel to it that works at various times throughout the film. Silly as this comment may seem, if one was to extract the nudity of the film and a few of the suggestive scenes, it could have fit right in as one the many TV Movie terrors that populated the airwaves in the early seventies.
While I’m not sure if I’ll revisit this one anytime soon I can’t wholly recommend it as some may find it offensive so see it at your own risk. Personally I didn’t find it offensive, just jaw dropping at a couple of key scenes. If I’m to be totally honest, I would imagine if I’d have acquired an uncut copy of this back in the VHS days before my 16th birthday, I’d have been calling all my pals over to see just what I’ve discovered about that Bond girl from the Man With the Golden Gun.