The Collector: Still collecting 50 years later
In 1965 a film was released that would go on to influence films, music, television, and sadly real life serial killers for decades. Legendary director, William Wyler’s take on the John Fowles novel was something audiences had yet to experience. Antagonist Freddie Clegg (played by Terence Stamp) brought a chilling calm and sadness that rivals Norman Bates. The Collector drew numerous award nominations at the Oscars and Golden Globes and wins at Cannes for Stamp and Samantha Eggar.
The film tells the story of Freddie and his collecting which soon includes the abduction and collection of his obsession Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar). The viewer is treated to differing views of the situation as we get to experience both Freddie and Miranda’s sides of the ordeal. While most current abduction films and horror films in general deal with the killing and depravity aspects forgetting the psychological aspect The Collector is a mind fuck that plays on the souls and feelings of the two main characters as opposed to sexual desires almost to the point that it’s more a situation dealing with a battle between social/economical class and the desires of both to reach higher rungs on the ladder of life. This is one of those movies that provides food for thought and discussion after viewing. If the saying “imitation is the highest form of flattery” is true then The Collector ranks near the top of the list. Silence of the Lambs borrows heavily from The Collector in the Buffalo Bill character including the inclusion of butterfly/moth collecting. It’s also been referenced and quoted in genre classics such as Halloween, Misery, Serial Mom, & Rosemary’s Baby and spoofed on The Benny Hill Show and The Simpsons. Many bands such as Slipknot and The Everly Brothers have been inspired by both the film & book. As with any work that inspires and changes the genre there have been a few instances of SerialKillers including Leonard Lake & Charles Ng that say that the film and book inspired them. I don’t agree with the statements of these criminals since I believe that if you commit these crimes it’s not because ofa film. You’ve already got a mental issue before hand.
The overall legacy of The Collector continues to grow. We are seeing more and more films each year that aren’t categorized as horror films that chill us to the bone. The Collector helped to make that possible in a time when films had to fall into a specific category. Terrance Stamp and Samantha Eggar both had amazing career boosts from the film. Sadly William Wyler wouldn’t live long enough to fully see the impact that his film made on both audiences and filmmakers. The original cut of the film ran 3 hours. Hopefully one day this footage will be found and restored. So seek out this film and give it a view.
We owe it to ourselves to support the films that laid the foundation for our beloved genre.