What the Peeper Saw goes under a fair few titles, you can find it under its original name Diabólica Malicia as well as Night Child and Night Hair Child. The many titles aren’t what you’ll remember about this movie though. A seriously controversial horror/thriller, it caused a lot of fuss thanks to its extensive nudity and an implied brief underage sex scene.
The very first thing that will grab most people’s attention is that Mark Lester has a starring role here, the cute lead of the musical Oliver! In What the Peeper Saw though, he plays a sadistic voyeur called Marcus with murderous tendencies. Seriously, he’s a nightmare child and he causes serious problems for his stepmother, Elise (Britt Ekland).
The pair just can’t connect following the accidental death of the boy’s mother. At least it looks like an accident but once we meet Marcus it quickly becomes clear that he may have had some involvement.
His behaviour is disturbing and his detachment from emotions is creepy. That’s not the worst of it though as he reveals himself to be sexually attracted to Elise. Prepare yourself for discomfort as an early scene sees the bathing boy grab and fondle her breasts.
She doesn’t quite react the way most would, instead just giving him a withering look before leaving the room. However, this and scenes that follow spark suspicions in her but her husband, the boy’s father (Hardy Krüger) is totally oblivious to it all.
As she tries to find out the truth, her relationships begin to fracture and her mind unravel. Will anyone believe that such an innocent boy could be so twisted?
What the Peeper Saw is such a sleazy film. If it wasn’t for the great performances it would be consigned to the grubby exploitation bin. It can’t even be called sexy even though Ekland takes her clothes off a far amount here. One such scene sees her strip in front of the boy as he demands it. All in return for the truth about his crimes. Another sees her climb into bed naked with him. Even though it is a hallucination, you’re not left feeling too good about it.
The tightrope walking regarding the taboo subject is handled as well as it probably could be.
Thankfully, as distracting as all of these scenes are it is not a bad movie. As said above, the performances really stand out. Mark Lester is great as the sadist child. At first, I thought there was no way I could dislike that cherub face but by the end I was looking forward to him getting some form of comeuppance.
It’s a well put together movie and it is more of a psychological thriller then a horror. It moves at a slow pace but it rarely stops being entertaining.
What the Peeper Saw (1972)
The Final Score - 6.5/10