Killing Cameras

In 1960 "Peeping Tom" caused a scandal that eventually ended the career of director Michael Powell. In this twisted thriller Karl Heinz Böhm (who successfully got rid of his "Sissi"-image with this) plays a psychotic camera-man who kills women with the tripod of his camera while filming their death. He collects his films and watches them over and over again and at one point even attempts to screen it to a woman he feels attracted to.

Something about this idea must have hit too close to home for critics and audiences at the time. "Peeping Tom" was throwing the voyeurism of an anonymous audience back in their faces. It one-upped Hitchcock´s "Rear Window" from six years earlier. Whereas Hitchcock made the audience watch through the eyes of the lovable, handicapped voyeur, Powell forces us to witness the action through the eyes of the killer AND through the camera lens.
In a way "Peeping Tom" anticipated the video-age by more than twenty years and one might get the impression that the audience somehow knew it.

Why am I writing this? Well, I just found an interesting toy commercial from 1964 that tried to sell a "killing camera" to teenage James Bond-fans. The Mattel Agent Zero M Movie Shot provides this young trenchcoat wearing styler with a camera that turns into a machine-gun. It even shoots through the campy bag that can be bought separately!

I have no idea how parents reacted to this toy and I would have been great if it really was a camera. I would certainly have wanted one. Check also the unbelievable "Agent M Sonic Blaster" which was a gigantic bazooka that fired compressed air!

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