Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Franchises: Psycho. Psycho (1960)

Psycho is one of those movies I've mentioned before that is so legendary and is such a part of the culture that it's rather hard for me to pinpoint exactly when I first became aware of it. I do know, however, that I knew of it from as far as back as my elementary school days, with the earliest memory I can think of being a commercial for a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock on some movie channel (probably Turner Classic Movies or AMC) and my mom telling me that he was the man who made Psycho. I also know that our town's video rental store had it, along with the first two sequels, making it one of the few films older than the 1970's that was carried by it, and, at one point, I saw a little bit of Psycho II on the Sci-Fi Channel. And, of course, you had all the parodies and homages to it in various television shows, including one that my mom was watching one night that I cannot remotely remember now, and other sources, even in the cartoon shows I watched religiously back then, like Fantastic Max and Dexter's Laboratory. All of that, combined with what little of the publicity I saw for the 1998 remake, gave me the impression that this was quite a major movie, although I wouldn't really see any images from it until the millennium, when we got our first computer and, shortly afterward, internet access. I saw my first significant glimpses of it when I went looking for images on the web and found a good number of pictures, particularly of Norman Bates and the shower scene, and around the spring of 2000, I saw the lead-up to the shower scene in an advertisement for a Saturday night playing of it during a Hitchcock marathon AMC was having. With the Alfred Hitchcock Collection now available on video from Universal and with my also having recently seen my first Hitchcock movie with The Birds, it was only a matter of time before I finally saw Psycho, which I was interested in, despite my intimidation by it, especially since I had seen that it was rated R when I looked on the back of its VHS box (being only eleven at the time, that rating was a big "no-no" as far as my parents were concerned). Sure enough, I did see it sometime that October, on one Friday afternoon on AMC. Since I had gotten my first taste of contemporary horror the year before having seen Child's Play, Child's Play 3, and the first two Halloween movies, I felt that I was more than ready to see the movie that gave rise to them and so many other flicks. Truth be told, it was love at first sight with Psycho. This was a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed and was engrossed by the minute it started and that notion was only enhanced the following spring when I bought the VHS, which I watched many, many times throughout the following years. Each time, I just grew to enjoy the movie more and more and to this day, while I've now seen just about every one of his films and enjoy a good number of them, it remains my personal favorite Hitchcock movie (I know that's not an original thing to say but it is the God's honest truth).

It's no secret that Psycho is, by and large, Alfred Hitchcock's most famous film and is possibly the one that first comes to mind when his name is mentioned for many people. Like I said up above, it was literally the first movie I ever connected to him, as I had never heard of him before Mom told me that he was the one who made it. However, when you put it into context with the rest of his career, especially at that point, it was seen by many as not only an odd movie for him to tackle but also one he shouldn't had. When he made Psycho, it was at a time when he was at the peak of his success: not only were his movies doing well critically and financially (for the most part, anyway) but so was his television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which had made him just as much a star as the many he'd worked with. However, even though he was just coming off of another smash hit, North By Northwest, Hitchcock was seemingly afraid that he was falling into a rut and felt he needed something completely different in order to shake things up. He decided to do Psycho for a couple of purported reasons: one, he had seen the success that low-budget horror films made by William Castle, American International Pictures, and Hammer Films had been having and wanted to prove that he could do a quick, cheap movie like them as well, and two, to stave off competitors, particularly French director Henri-Georges Clouzot, whose 1955 film, Les Diaboliques (which is a really good flick, I might add), had been hailed as a movie that outdid him in the suspense department, and show that he was still the undisputed Master of Suspense. Hitchcock was so adamant about making the film that, when Paramount, whom he was contracted with at the time, refused to have anything to do with it since they felt that the book by Robert Bloch was unfilmable, he financed it himself and, after convincing Paramount to at least distribute it, shot it at Universal using the same studio and general crew as his television show. Even though he put it through the same meticulous preparation and construction that he had on all of his movies, gave it his recognizable style through the interesting use of camerawork and editing, and even spent a lot of time on the now legendary advertising campaign, it seems as though Hitchcock didn't really take the film that seriously (he himself said as much in an interview) and did it mainly to prove a point. He, like everyone else, certainly wasn't prepared for the enormous success that it proved to be, with screenwriter Joseph Stefano saying that he simply shrugged after hearing of a particularly effective screening and Anthony Perkins noting that Hitchcock was outright baffled by the reaction to it. In short, the success of this film that nobody felt he should have done even dumbfounded Hitchcock himself, and this was after he had sought to make it regardless of what everyone else felt! Imagine how mind-blowing it must have been when it ended up becoming his most famous movie, especially after all the awful reviews it received at the time.

Whenever you have a movie that's as famous and well-known as this, I never feel the need to give a plot synopsis since everybody already knows it. However, there are a couple of things about the plot in regards to my first viewing of the movie that I will talk about. For one, I was lucky enough to have seen the movie long before the internet and other media became so prevalent that you ended up learning of a movie's details long before you actually saw it and so, despite its legendary status and all the stuff I had heard about it, the twist ending was completely unspoiled for me when I went into it. I certainly knew of Norman Bates and his mother, the motel, and the shower scene, but I always figured that he and his mother murdered people together. While it turns out that I wasn't that far off the mark, the exact details of their "relationship" were never revealed to me beforehand and so, I was able to enjoy it as much as the moviegoers back in 1960. Something else about the film's story that surprised me was the way it unfolded. Having heard about nothing other than everything to do with Norman Bates and the motel, imagine my surprise when the movie starts off as far from that as possible, with Marion Crane, her boyfriend, and her decision to run off with the money. I thought that was interesting, that we start with someone else's story and follow them for a little while until they cross paths with Norman and then, it shifts over to him. In fact, the beginning is so far removed from what the movie eventually becomes that it feels like Hitchcock edited an episode of his television show with something else that he was working on at the same time. This unusual structure is probably why some feel that the movie is uneven, especially during the second half when the other characters are trying to catch up with what we already know, but I've always found it to be a very fascinating way of telling a story.

The phrase, "What more can you say that hasn't already been said?" applies to many different aspects of Psycho, not the least of which is Anthony Perkins' performance as Norman Bates. It's really a shame that Perkins never had the career he deserved following this film because his portrayal is spot-on perfect (as Hitchcock himself told him, the fact that he didn't even get nominated for an Oscar for it is a real travesty). He manages to make Norman a very likable and sympathetic character and yet, at the same time, there's also something unsettling about him that you can't quite put your finger on. When you first meet him, he seems like a very normal person, one who, above everything else, is very well-mannered, as he politely checks Marion Crane into the motel, shows her the room, and suggests to her where she can get something eat. You also get a sense of loneliness about him when he asks her to have dinner with him up at the house and when you hear the sound of his mother admonishing him for considering doing so, accusing Marion of being someone who intends to appease her "ugly appetite" with both food and Norman, you instantly understand why he feels that way and feel bad for him. During the following scene in the parlor, Norman gives us more of an insight into his life, talking about his hobby of taxidermy, which he uses to fill the time when he's not running the motel, making it clear that the motel, the house, and his mother are his only world, and admits that he was born into his own "private trap" that he can't escape. He talks about his complicated relationship with his mother, showing that he has a seething resentment of her and wishes that he could leave her behind but he can't bring himself to do so because he understands that her hard life has really affected her and he couldn't contemplate leaving her up in the house by herself to die all alone. Up to this point, it feels like the only thing that's negative about Norman are the angry feelings he does have towards his mother but when Marion makes the mistake of suggesting he put his mother in an institution, his reaction shows that there is a definite dark side to him. It's done very subtly, with how he leans forward and his voice, while never raising, becomes filled with anger and venom boiling just beneath the surface. The way he asks her, "What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing and the tears and the cruel eyes studying you? My mother there?", you expect him to explode any minute but he keeps calm as he continues to insist that there's no need for his mother to be institutionalized, that she's completely harmless. But, when Marion says that she meant well, Norman bitterly says, "People always mean well. They cluck their thick tongues and shake their heads and suggest oh, so very delicately," another sign that there is some definite rage in there. He comes back down to Earth when he suggests that his mother just goes a little mad sometimes, that, "We all go a little mad sometimes," and when he asks Marion if she ever has, he unintentionally makes her realize that she indeed has and that it's something she needs to correct.

Now that we've gotten our first hint that there's something not quite right about Norman, Hitchcock makes him look creepier and creepier as the film progresses. It's not hard to tell that he develops some kind of an interest in Marion upon meeting her but after she leaves the parlor, said interest grows more sinister when he looks at his registration book and smiles upon seeing that Marion unknowingly told him her real name and hometown after she'd signed in with an alias, which is to say nothing of when he's standing next to the back wall in his parlor, listening to her move around in the cabin next door, and then removes a picture to reveal a peephole he uses to watch her get undressed. The idea that that thing was already there, suggesting that this is not the first time he's spied on a guest, makes it even creepier. Despite this interest, Norman, ever the dutiful son, cleans up all traces of Marion's murder at his mother's hands and also eliminates any trace of her having been at the motel to begin with, putting her body and things, including the newspaper where she'd been hiding the money she stole, into her car and rolling it into the swamp behind the motel. It is amazing how, despite how unsettling and creepy he's proven to be by this point, Norman is still a sympathetic enough character to where, when the car sinks about halfway and then stops, it's possibly to gasp and go, "No!" That's what my mom did the first time we watched it together and that tends to be the response whenever I watch it with anyone else who's never seen it. After this, Norman continues to protect his mother, admitting to Arbogast, the private detective, that she was there only when he absolutely needed to and insisting that she left the following morning. He also vehemently refuses to let him talk to his mother, whose existence he, again, only confirms when he needs to, and when he drives off, Norman gives an unsettling smile as it fades to the next scene. Speaking of unsettling, one of the creepiest shots of Norman in the entire film is when, after Arbogast has been killed, he's standing by the swamp, no doubt after having dumped him in there as well, and when he hears Sam Loomis calling for him, he turns and looks very menacingly at the camera. Knowing that there will be somebody who'll come looking for Arbogast, Norman forcibly takes his mother down into the house's fruit cellar and when Sam and Lila show up, while he's still polite enough, he's noticeably a little more short and matter-of-fact in dealing with and checking them in, possibly because he wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Loomis is the one who finally pushes Norman over the edge with his antagonistic questioning and when he realizes that Lila has snuck up to the house, he incapacitates him and runs up there to deal with her, which is when the disturbing truth is revealed.

Even though she's dead, Mrs. Bates is still very much a presence in the film, both in the revelation that she lives on as an alternate personality in Norman's psyche and the hold that she still has on her son, which is just as powerful as it was in life. She's clearly the dominant personality, with the psychiatrist at the end explaining that she's often the only side of him that's in control and she keeps him away from the outside world and everyone in it, particularly women. And if any woman attracts her son, she becomes as consumed with jealousy as she did in life and viciously murders her, as happens to Marion. But, like I said, as cruel and domineering as she is, Norman is absolutely devoted to his mother, despite the resentment he feels towards her for keeping him isolated and alone at the motel. It's obvious that his feelings towards her weren't exactly healthy, as she made sure that she was literally the only woman in his life for his entire childhood, and when she met her lover, he was became pathologically jealous, feeling that she had dumped him in favor of this man, and murdered them both. He was so devoted to and lost without her that he decided that he had to convince himself that she was still alive, not only by stealing her corpse and treating it as well as he could but also by thinking and speaking for her, going as far as to wear her clothes and put on a wig to make the illusion more real. When he covers up the traces of the murders of Marion and Arbogast and hides his mother's corpse in the fruit cellar, he's doing so in order to protect her from the consequences of the crimes he's sure that she committed, rather than worrying about his own safety. It's an example of his protecting this illusion from being ruined by reality, as the psychiatrist explains. In the end, Norman does get his wish in wanting his mother to be brought back to life, as she takes complete control over his mind (possibly out of his desperation to keep the illusion up after it's been exposed), in the ultimate act of domination. Moreover, she's the one who confesses everything to the psychiatrist, condemning her own son, and, in the final scene of Norman sitting in his cell, Mrs. Bates declares that he was really the one who murdered everyone and is going to allow them to put him away, while she's going to show them that she's completely harmless, that she, "Wouldn't even harm a fly." The way they brought Mrs. Bates to life throughout the film, with the uncomfortably realistic-looking corpse and the blending of the voices of three people (Virginia Gregg, Jeanette Nolan, and Paul Jasmin) to her speech an uncomfortable texture, was effective enough but for me, nothing beats that last scene. On top of hearing Mrs. Bates' monologue, you hear her voice actually come out of Norman's mouth when she thanks a policeman for bringing her a blanket and see that very subtle superimposition of her skull onto his face after she speaks her last lines. It's done so well and is in the middle of a scene dissolve that you might not catch it the first time around but, when you finally do see it, it's bone-chilling, to say the least.

When you re-watch the film after having learned of the truth, it's quite ingenious how Hitchcock misled you. When Marion first arrives at the motel, you see the figure of a woman walk by a window up at the Bates house and so, when you hear Mrs. Bates' voice for the first time later on and see a similar figure during the shower scene, you assume that this person is her. But when you look back on the movie knowing that it's actually Norman dressed up as her, it's not only brilliant but also unnerving to realize that you caught a glimpse of him creating the illusion of his mother still being alive through that window and that the murder was an example of his second personality's bloodthirsty rage towards any woman who attracted her son. Things get all the more creepy when Arbogast sees the figure of someone sitting up in the same window where Marion saw "her" and you later see the same figure who murdered Marion come storming out of the bedroom upstairs to attack him. At this point, there can be no doubt that Mrs. Bates is the one everyone is seeing and being killed by... until you learn from Sheriff Chambers that she's been dead for ten years. When he asks the question, "Well, if the woman up there is Mrs. Bates, who's that woman buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery?" (a line I've always find to be really eerie, especially when combined with the piece of music Bernard Herrmann plays immediately afterward), you could probably assume it was someone else that they buried in her place, especially after the shot where Norman is apparently seen carrying his mother down the stairs as she admonishes him for doing so. At least, that's what I figured. Speaking of Norman, when he walks up the stairs to talk his mother before he carries her down, notice the feminine way in which he slightly sways his hips as he moves. When Lila goes into the fruit cellar at the end during the climax and finds a figure with its back turned to her, you can't possibly think it's anyone other than Mrs. Bates and you're right... except, you're probably not expecting it to swing around and reveal that it's a mummified corpse, let alone to have Norman come running in dressed like his mother, yelling in her voice, and brandishing a large knife. The sound of her voice yelling, "I am Norma Bates!" as Norman rushes at Lila, only to be subdued in time by Sam Loomis, combined with Norman's pained expression as he struggles with him (I think that's when he completely loses himself to his alternate personality), has always creeped out, as has the notion that the figure seen sitting at the window by Arbogast and later by Loomis and carried downstairs by Norman was that corpse. Countless movies have tried to replicate this film's manipulation but few of them did it as well as Hitchcock. In fact, it's so well done, it might be the film's only major flaw to me. Once you know the twist, you'll never be able to experience the effective mystery ever again and will only have the after-knowledge I've just described. As unsettling as that aspect is, I do agree with one critic on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments when he said he envies anybody who gets the opportunity to see Psycho for the first time without any knowledge of the twist.

One of Hitchcock's most lauded talents was his ability to tell stories about ordinary people who run into bizarre, frightening situations and in my opinion, few fit that trope of his better than Janet Leigh as Marion Crane. This is a woman whose life has been as mundane as you can get: she's stuck in a dead-end job as a secretary at a real estate firm and desperately wants to marry her lover, Sam Loomis, but they can't afford to do so at the moment because of the debts he has to pay for his deceased father and the alimony for his ex-wife; until he pays off his debts in a couple of years, all they can do now is have sensual meet-ups in cheap hotels in Phoenix. But Marion, who's not only unable to wait that long but also probably feels it's unlikely Sam will ever have his debts completely paid off, decides to go to him with $40,000 she was supposed to deposit for a client... having no idea what lies ahead for her on the path she's chosen. Rather than being a dishonest person, Marion is painted as someone who's good at heart but, out of desperation to have a better life for herself and the man she loves, made an ill-advised, last minute decision. You see that she's clearly not without conscience, as she contemplates taking the money while packing and it's obvious that she's really struggling with herself as she tries to make a decision. And when she heads out towards Fairvale, her decision immediately turns the world around her into a dark, frightening place that she's never been in before, as she becomes extremely paranoid, wondering what'll happen when everybody realizes that she's gone with the money and constantly dreaming up scenarios and exchanges of dialogue. Her fear causes her to unintentionally act suspicious around a state patrol officer, prompting him to tail her and watch as she trades her car for another. Her nervousness and hurried need to get a new car, as well as her paying the salesman $700 in cash, also arouses his suspicions and when she leaves, she worries about what the officer is discussing with the salesman. When she thinks about what'll eventually happen when Cassidy, the man who gave her firm the money, learns that she took it, she can't help but smile at his inevitable frustration, especially since he was unabashedly flirting with her when he dropped it off; it's the only time she looks a little sinister.

As if Marion's decision hadn't already turned the world she knew into something sinister, it ultimately leads her to the worst place of all: the Bates Motel. I can't think of a more blatant example of an ordinary person finding themselves in a place and situation that's anything but ordinary. Once she checks into the motel and agrees to have dinner with Norman, Marion is initially only thinking of herself, finding somewhere to hide the money, but when she hears Norman's mother shouting at him from the house, it arouses her sympathetic side. While she tells him that she doesn't have much of an appetite, she decides to have dinner with him in his parlor. As they talk, Marion is reluctant to talk about herself, telling Norman that she's simply looking for a "private island somewhere," and becomes initially alarmed when he asks her what she's running away from. When the conversation switches to the subject of private traps, Marion begins to realize the severity of the mistake she's made and that she has a chance to escape hers, unlike Norman, who, for one reason or another, is unable to. When she talks to him about his mother, she not only becomes more and more sympathetic towards his situation but also sees what a troubled person he is when she makes the mistake of suggesting that he put his mother in an asylum. As much as she feels for him, she's clearly frightened by his reaction and the anger and hatred she sees boiling up inside him as he talks, and when he tells her, "We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?", she responds, "Yes. Sometimes, just once can be enough." I think it's right then when she decides to go back to Phoenix and face the music, as she doesn't want to become like Norman and be clamped in her own private trap forever. As she tells him, she wants to go back and pull herself out, "Before it's too late for me, too." This is what makes what happens next so tragic. She realized what she did was wrong, that she still has a chance to correct it before it ruins her life, and then, after she symbolically cleans away her sins in the shower, she's brutally stabbed to death. And while the beads of water underneath her eye after she falls over the tub are more than likely from the shower, you can't help but wonder if they're actually meant to be tears she shed during her last moments of life, as she realized her chance to do the right thing had been destroyed in an instant and that her change of heart wasn't enough to save her from the doom her crime led her to.

One of the reasons I've heard for people not caring for the film's second half is that they don't find the characters of Lila Crane and Sam Loomis to be that interesting. I've never minded them myself but I'd be lying if I said I found them to be among the film's most interesting aspects. I do, however, kind of like Vera Miles' performance as Lila. She's an actor I always find myself enjoying anyway and I think she does perfectly fine here. We don't get much of an idea what her relationship with her sister was like but, given her worry about her disappearance and how determined she is to find out what happened to her when she was at the Bates Motel, you can surmise that they were fairly close. Plus, you have that moment early on when Caroline, the secretary she works with, tells Marion that Lila called to let her know she'd be gone to Tucson for the weekend and Marion also mentions having her cook a big steak for the three of them at some point, so I guess that says something as well. I really like Lila's spunk in wanting to get out to the motel herself, at one point intending to go there and burst in on Arbogast's questioning of Mrs. Bates if she needs to, ultimately having Sam take her out there himself in order for them to check in as husband and wife and search the place. She's not even afraid to go into the Bates house by herself and confront Mrs. Bates, having Sam keep Norman distracted while she does so. While this course of action almost gets her killed, she ultimately does uncover the disturbing truth about Norman, and in the final scene at the jail when the psychiatrist reveals to her that her sister is dead, I feel a bit sorry for her when I watch the realization hit her.

Like I said up above, I've never minded John Gavin as Marion's boyfriend, Sam Loomis, but, I must admit, he is the blandest one in the group (Hitchcock himself referred to him as, "the Stiff"). While not absolutely terrible, his delivery throughout the film is often pretty monotone and wooden and it makes you wish that Hitchcock had cast some of the other great leading men he'd worked with before, like Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart, in the part. The low budget probably prevented him from doing so, especially after he'd cast Janet Leigh, but I think the film would have been benefitted from having someone better than a young, inexperienced contract actor like Gavin (and to think, he came very close to becoming James Bond in the 70's!) I think his chemistry with Leigh during the opening scene is okay, although it could have been better, and I like how, when Marion talks about having Lila cook dinner for the three of them, he talks about sending Lila to the movies so they can be alone afterward and turning the picture of Marion's mother to the wall, as well as when he mentions how he's tired of "sweating for people who aren't there," mentioning the burdens his dead father and ex-wife have left him with, but other than that, he doesn't leave much of an impression. During the second half, he doesn't seem as worried about Marion as he should and, again, his acting is pretty damn stiff, even when he's insisting that he saw Mrs. Bates up at the house behind the motel and when he's confronting Norman about what's going while Lila searches the house. In fact, I don't know why he suddenly starts antagonizing Norman. He's supposed to be distracting him with conversation while Lila attempts to find and talk to Mrs. Bates when suddenly, he begins accusing Norman of planning to unload the motel by using a lot of money he somehow got his hands on and then, very stupidly, says, "I bet your mother knows where the money is, and what you did to get it. I think she'll tell us." He and Lila had come up with that scenario in private but what was the point of confronting Norman with it directly? And why the hell would you say that about the mother? Don't you think that would arouse Norman's suspicions, which it does, almost resulting in Lila getting killed? Earlier, I was going to say that, in any other movie, Sam would be the handsome leading man and hero, whereas here, he does nothing but sit around; well, now that I think about it, he's much worse than that!

After Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, I feel that the best performance in the film is Martin Balsam as Arbogast, the private detective sent to search for Marion. Balsam is one of those actors I've always enjoyed watching and, even though his role is fairly brief, he gives Arbogast an air of smooth charisma and sharp intelligence right from the get-go, when he waltzes into Sam's hardware store when Lila is confronting him, announcing, "Let's all talk about Marion, shall we?", and when Sam asks, "Who are you, friend?" he shoots back, "My name is Arbogast, friend." He just looks so cool as he leans back on the counter while Lila explains to Sam what's going on and chimes in every now and then, like when Lila says that no one has seen Marion since the past Friday and he remarks, "Somebody's seen her. Somebody always sees a girl with $40,000." I also like how he reassures Lila that he thinks Marion is somewhere in Fairvale, albeit, "Not back there with the nuts and bolts," being hidden by Sam, and that he'll find her. His best scene, however, comes when he finds his way to the Bates Motel and questions Norman. He has a sample of Marion's handwriting with him and when he checks Norman's registration book and finds the alias she used, he questions Norman about her stay, drilling him for details in a polite enough but direct manner, at one point asking if he spent the night with her since he somehow knows she didn't make any phone calls. You can tell that he's smart enough to know that Norman is hiding something when he initially doesn't recognize her picture and then does, making the excuse that her hair being wet from the rain was why she didn't seem familiar at first, and when he says that she simply left the next morning to return to Phoenix. He half-jokingly asks if she's still there and his suspicions only deepen when he sees Norman hesitate to go into Cabin 1 and he lets on that his mother, whom he says is the figure Arbogast saw in the window up at the house, wasn't fooled by Marion. Now convinced that Mrs. Bates may have talked to Marion, Arbogast becomes determined get to her, going as far as to go back to the motel after calling Lila about what he's found and sneaking into the house, a decision that proves fatal for him.

The other characters are pretty incidental, although some of them are memorable in their own ways. While I don't have anything to say about his wife (Lurene Tuttle), I kind of like the character of Sheriff Al Chambers (John McIntire) and how he comes across as a grizzled but fairly sympathetic and rational guy, going through the points of Marion's disappearance, her stay at the Bates Motel, and what Arbogast told them the last time they heard from him. He's also the one to tell them that Mrs. Bates has been dead for the past ten years, after having supposedly killed herself and her lover, feeling that everyone else is seriously mistaken. Speaking of which, he seems to have something of a close relationship with Norman, mentioning that he went out to the motel before church that Sunday and was able to search the whole place, finding nothing, and during the last scene at the jailhouse, you hear him mention, "Even I couldn't get to Norman, and he knows me." Another character who I always remember is Tom Cassidy (Frank Albertson), the rich man whose $40,000 payment for a house he intends to buy for his daughter Marion steals. This guy is such an obvious flirt, it's ridiculous. He immediately hones in on Marion, telling her all about his daughter, going so far as to show her a picture of her, and her wedding present, eventually telling her, "You know what I do about unhappiness? I buy it off. Are you, uh, unhappy?" Again, he could be more obvious? He's also not afraid to wave big sums of money around, literally doing so right in front of Marion before plumping it down on her desk and dismissing their employer's, George Lowery (Vaughn Taylor), concerns about such an unusually large cash transaction with this statement: "Aah, so what? It's my private money, and now it's yours." And as he continues to eye Marion, not really listening to Lowery's suggestions, he then embarrasses him by saying out loud, "Oh, speaking of 'feeling good,' where's that bottle you said was in your desk?" The line I remember most from Cassidy is when Marion is imagining what he'll say when he and everyone else realizes she took off with it, where you hear his voice exclaim, "Hot creepers!" I smile every time I hear that line. Another memorable incidental character is California Charlie, the car salesman who, reluctantly, gives Marion a new car. He's memorable to me for two reasons. One, he's played by John Anderson, an actor who appeared in a good number of films and especially television shows from the 50's on into the 80's. Being a big fan of The Twilight Zone, I recognize him from more episodes of that show than any other actor (and after this, he did appear in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the follow-up, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour). The other thing I remember him for is how much of a fast-talker he is, rambling on about how the first customer of the day is always the most trouble, telling her to look around the lot, seeing of something strikes her eye, and mentioning that people who buy used cars shouldn't be in a hurry. His most memorable line, when Marion hurriedly asks for the price of the car she's picked out, is, "First time the customer ever high-pressured the salesman." And like the highway patrolman before him, Marion's actions make Charlie suspicious, starting when she agrees to the sum of $700 without any struggle, prompting him to ask if she can prove the car she's trading is really hers, and he becomes even more suspicious when he sees her looking at the officer across the street from them. Although he finally does allow her to leave, his suspiciousness cause Marion to wonder about the inevitable discussion between him and the patrolman.

Speaking of the patrolman (Mort Mills), he's quite a menacing character, with his pitch-black sunglasses, imposing face and expression, and fairly overbearing voice (given how fearful Hitchcock was of the police, it's small wonder why he's painted in such a frightening light). He's not intending to come across so sinisterly but for Marion, he's the worst nightmare possible after what she's done. When he wakes her up in her car, the look of sheer terror on her face when she sees him staring at her through the window is unmistakable. She panics so much that she frantically turns her motor on and tries to drive away, and her nervousness makes the officer suspicious, leading him to ask her for her license. While her license does check out, he still decides to follow her all the way to Los Angeles, where he watches her buy her new car, after which he's never seen again. The character that nobody seems to care for is the psychiatrist (Simon Oakland) who gives the rundown of Norman's psychosis during the penultimate scene. Many feel that this scene is completely unnecessary, that you can figure it out yourself, but I disagree to some extent. While the reveal before that proves that Mrs. Bates is dead and that Norman, through an obvious split-personality, is the murderer, I like being able to hear the depths of his insanity, how this alternate personality came to be, the sick relationship he had with his mother, and exactly why he was driven to kill Marion and how these take-overs by the other personality affected him. Plus, through this scene, Hitchcock was able to slip in the word "transvestite" and what it means, something that was very unorthodox for a film of the time. I will admit, the psychiatrist does seem to be enjoying explaining Norman's condition a little too much, even when he directly tells Lila what prompted Norman to kill her sister, but I think he does a fine job and has some nice lines, such as, "Matricide is probably the most unbearable crime of all. Most unbearable for the son who commits it," "When the mind houses two personalities, there's always a conflict, a battle. In Norman's case, the battle is over, and the dominant personality has won," and, when Sheriff Chambers asks who got the $40,000, he answers, "The swamp. These were crimes of passion, not profit."

Hitchcock's daughter, Pat, who'd appeared in two of her father's previous films, as well as some episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, appears in one scene as Caroline, the other secretary who works with Marion. While she has no bearing on the plot, she is memorable for some of her lines, like when she mentions some tranquilizers her mother's doctor gave her on her wedding day, which did not sit well with her husband, and when she tells Marion, after Cassidy and Lowery go into his office, "He was flirting with you. I guess he must've noticed my wedding ring." That line makes me wonder if she perhaps jealous of not only the attention she got but from the fact that Marion is seen as much more attractive to men than her. I also always remember this odd old woman (Helen Wallace) who's buying pesticides at Sam's store in Fairvale and is preoccupied with whether or not it causes pain to the insects, saying that she feels death should always be painless, regardless of whether it's human beings or insects. It seems to implicate that she feels death itself is okay, as long as it's painless (and this scene comes right after the shower scene and Norman's dumping Marion's body and car into the swamp). And it wouldn't be a Hitchcock movie without a cameo from the man himself, which is right after the opening scene, standing in front of Marion's office in a hat as she comes in.

Going back to the notion at the time that this was felt to be an unusual movie for Hitchcock to take on, there are definitely aspects of Psycho that make it stand out amongst his filmography. For one, it's the fact that it's the first movie of his you can call a horror film. All of his previous films mostly fell into the category of thrillers, mainly having to do with crime and espionage, along with some straight dramas and the occasional comedy here and there, whereas Psycho, despite having a lot in common with his traditional fare during its first quarter, definitely becomes a horror film once you get to the Bates Motel. Even Hitchcock himself called it his first horror movie, and it was a genre he didn't venture into that often, as the only other true ones he did were his following film, The Birds, and, to some extent, his penultimate film, Frenzy. Another thing that makes it stand out amongst his other films is its look and feel. At this point, he had become known for big-budget, star-studded, glamorous, and sophisticated movies, often filmed in vivid color and widescreen, but then, right after he releases North By Northwest, which is probably the most profound example of those adjectives he ever did, he does this low-budget, fairly claustrophobic, black-and-white film that, as he intended, does feel more like a drive-in B-movie than what people expected from him. Bernard Herrmann once said that Hitchcock wondered if it was good enough for theaters and considered editing it down to an episode of his television and I myself compared it to his television show because it's not far enough from that. The low budget, while used effectively is obvious and the lack of widescreen (Hitchcock shot it in a way that closely adhered to the normal human field of vision) gives it a much more intimate feeling. Even the texture of the black-and-white photography makes it feel a little less sophisticated than even most of his past monochrome films. That's not to say that the film looks bad at all (if you watch it in high-def, it looks gorgeous) but it doesn't feel as glossy and polished as Hitchcock's previous black-and-white movies, like Spellbound, Strangers On a Train, and I Confess.

Another thing that stands out about Psycho is how, not only is it one of Hitchcock's darkest and most nihilistic films, but also due to how seedy it is. Even the most glamorous and high society-oriented of Hitchcock's thrillers, have an undercurrent of something rather deviant going on, with even the most dapper, sophisticated having an undeniable ugliness to them, but here, it's a lot more out in the open. Obviously, the most blatant example is how the villain is revealed to be a maniacal mamma's boy whose relationship with his mother is strongly suggested to have been unnatural as well as toxic and who dresses in her clothes whenever he kills a woman who has sexually aroused him. And on that note, you can't forget the infamous voyeurism scene, where he watches Marion undress in her room through a hole in the wall hidden by a picture (said picture depicts a rape, by the way), a moment that is skin-crawling simply in its nature. On top of that, you have the rather overt sexuality in the film, with the first scene taking place in a cheap hotel room where Marion and Sam have just spent a very sensual "lunchtime," the numerous shots of Marion in nothing but a bra and slip, Sam's hardly shy lack of a shirt during that scene, and Cassidy's less than subtle flirting with Marion, which is to say nothing of the various quick shots of Marion's nude body during the shower scene (you only see the side of her breasts but, if you look in the background during the close-up shot of her hand gripping the curtain after the killer has fled, you can see what looks a front shot of her breast and even a nipple). Even the fact that you see a toilet being flushed, which you never saw in a film before that, lends the movie a feeling of sleaziness. Hitchcock would later trump the movie in this regard with Frenzy, which is his nastiest movie by far, but there's no denying that this film does have an ugly side that most of his previous films, or even other movies of the time, don't (which, as I'll go into more detail about presently, makes it relatable since it's acknowledging that this stuff does exist). And as for the aspect of the darkness, it's amazing how this film goes from a thrilling tale of a woman on the run to a frightening descent into the world of a true psychopath. By the end of the movie, Norman may have been caught but it's not going to fix anything: Lila and Sam have lost Marion to his madness, a horrific secret has been revealed that will undoubtedly rock Fairvale to its core, and Norman has completely lost himself to his deadly alternate personality. That lost shot of his mother's skull superimposed over his evil smile fading into a shot of Marion's car being pulled out of the swamp, with the discovery of her corpse being imminent, sums it up better than any words ever could.

Another thing I like about Psycho is that it's one of Hitchcock's most relatable films. As much as I enjoy his films like Rebecca, Suspicion, Rope, Dial M for Murder, and such, the high society settings and characters in those aren't exactly things an average joe can identify with, in spite of how likable the main characters in those films are. Even Rear Window and the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, both of which are two of my absolute favorites, are kind of hard to relate to since they're dealing with people who have amazing, high-paying jobs, like Jeffries being an adventurous photographer in the former and the McKenna family, made up of a well-to-do doctor and a popular signer, who are able to afford a family vacation in Morocco in the latter. Psycho, however, is truly a story about normal, working-class people who find themselves caught up in a terrifying situation. While they're still not exactly blue-collar, Marion and Sam can hardly be accused of living glamorous lives, with Marion working as a real estate secretary and Sam owning a hardware store, and they both have problems with these dead-end jobs that you can relate to, especially with Sam's overwhelming debts being why they can't afford to marry (his dialogue with Marion in the opening suggests that he actually lives at the store, which is possible since that's where we see him and Lila waiting for Arbogast's call rather than a typical house). Even Norman's situation is kind of relatable, as he's running a tiny, low-rent motel that barely gets any business because it's off the main road. He himself admits to Arbogast that he hardly bothers turning on the sign anymore because of the lack of customers. And that leads me to my other point: the locations in the film are also relatable. As opposed to glitzy places you could never imagine visiting, you have the city of Phoenix being shown as a typical city that's full of cheap, kind of sleazy hotels and small, unassuming apartments like the one Marion lives in, long roads in the desert that feel like they lead to nowhere, the small, unassuming used car dealership where Marion trades in her first one, and the Bates Motel, which is definitely one of those dime-a-dozen, little motels you see everywhere, which you see more of when Arbogast is checking around Fairvale for any for any info on Marion. While this isn't the first time Hitchcock dealt with this type of setting and characters, with previous films like The Trouble With Harry and The Wrong Man being prime examples, and it wouldn't be the last (The Birds and Frenzy also fit into this mold), this is one that feels the most down-to-Earth, which makes what happens all the more unsettling.

The one location in the film that looks anything but ordinary is the Bates house behind the motel. Everything else is, for the time, modern and relatable and then, you have this creepy, Gothic-looking, Victorian house on a hill overlooking the motel, which looks about as inviting as Castle Dracula overlooking the villages that often fall prey to Dracula himself. It's as iconic as anything else in this film and is very striking when you first see it when Marion arrives at the motel, standing there in the dark and rain, with the glimpse of someone walking past one of the single windows in the front. It really looks creepy in the shot where Norman runs down the hill after the shower scene, profiled in front of the dark, cloud-filled sky, and, as Hitchcock himself mentions in the film's trailer, it looks foreboding even in the daytime. The inside is no less creepy and feels like it should definitely be haunted, with its long hallways, the imposing staircase leading up to the second level, and the creepy shadows. Three rooms in particular are pretty creepy. The first of which is Mrs. Bates' room, which is still preserved like she's still alive, with the sink polished and the bed having the imprint of her body from where the corpse was lying (an eerie image, by the way). The fruit cellar, which you only see very briefly, looks so unkempt and dirty, and it's a very small room with nothing more to light it than a small, overhanging lightbulb, which makes the confrontation between Lila and Norman down there and the aftermath look all the more striking when that light starts swinging back and forth. Plus, who can forget the image of Mrs. Bates' corpse sitting down there in a chair, with her back to the camera? The most unsettling room, however, is the one that looks the most benign: Norman's room. When Lila wanders into it, looking for Mrs. Bates, what she finds is a room belonging to a small boy, with a tiny bed, stuffed animals and toys, records, and such. Given what we eventually learn about Norman, it makes this whimsical little place feel very sinister. And one mystery that's never explained are the unmarked books that Lila finds, one of which she picks up and opens. We never see what was inside it and Lila's expression doesn't give any clues, so you don't know if it was a journal or what. It's something I've always thought about. Even the motel itself has a kind of sinister quality to it. It could simply come from knowing what's going on ahead of time but, regardless, the look of it in the rain when Marion pulls up to it is a little creepy to me, for some reason, and the same goes for the other night scenes that take place there. Norman's parlor behind his office has a bit of an unnerving feel to it due to the low lighting, the stuffed birds here and there, and the pictures, and even the motel sign seems a bit imposing, not to mention the dark swamp in the back where Norman dumps his victims. One thing's for sure, though: this movie forever affected how people felt about small, privately-owned places like this in the middle of nowhere. You can never check into a place like that without thinking about it, especially when you take a shower.

There are a couple of notable motifs throughout the film. One is mirrors or, more specifically, reflections, which you often see around Marion. You see her reflected in the mirrors in her apartment when she's packing and contemplating taking the money, in the car's rearview mirror, the patrol officer's sunglasses, and in the mirror in the car dealership's bathroom when she takes out $700 to pay for the new car, and when Norman checks her into the motel, almost as if she's being forced to face herself and her actions in a way during those pivotal moments. When Marion and Norman talk outside of her room in the motel, you can see his reflection in the window behind him, possibly hinting early on that there's another side of him that neither she or us aware of, and you can also see Arbogast's reflection in the glass of the phone booth when he calls Lila after visiting the Bates Motel, and when Lila enters Mrs. Bates' bedroom, there's a moment where she scares herself upon seeing her back reflected in a mirror behind her via another in front, thinking it's another person in the room with her. Another interesting motif is that of birds. The most blatant examples are the stuffed birds in Norman's parlor, as well as the pictures of birds in Marion's motel room (one of which Norman knocks off the wall when he recoils after having found Marion's murdered body), but other examples including Marion's last name being Crane, her hometown being Phoenix, Arizona, and Norman commenting that she eats like a bird. Speaking of which, what eventually happens to Marion can be seen as an attack by a predatory bird like a hawk on a small one such as a sparrow, with the shadows of the stuffed birds looming over Marion while she's eating in Norman's parlor (as you can tell from the screenshots I've been putting up, shadows and darkness are prevalent throughout the film), the knife used to kill her looking like a beak when it's in silhouette, and the shrieking violins in the score during the shower scene sounding like a screeching bird on the attack. This bird motif is so strong that it makes you wonder if Alfred Hitchcock had already decided at that point that his next film was going to be The Birds. While it's documented that he didn't begin developing that film until late in 1961, I can't find any information as to when he first became aware of the short story by Daphne du Maurier, so who knows?

One thing I bet you didn't know about Psycho is that it takes place around Christmastime. Despite how everybody in the opening is talking about how hot it is, the opening captions after the credits clarify that it's Friday, December 11th, and in the shots of the city when Marion is leaving town, you can see Christmas decorations. The reason for setting it around that time year was mainly to accommodate an oversight: when Hitchcock sent a crew to film location shots in and around Phoenix in early November, they realized too late that Christmas decorations were visible in that aforementioned footage. Rather than reshoot the locations later, Hitchcock decided to simply set the film around Christmastime. So, even though it's never acknowledged in the dialogue, Psycho, among other things, is technically the first holiday horror movie!

The shower scene is not only the most famous part of the entire film but it's also probably the most well-known murder in cinema history. While I never saw any images or footage from it until I was in middle school, I had always heard that it was the big scene in the movie and, when I finally did see it, I understood why. It's kind of a shame that it so famous and talked about so much because I can only imagine how shocking it would have been had I not known what was coming, as it was for people back in 1960 (for me, it's a prime example of a theory of mine that, sometimes, being an iconic classic is a detriment to the film). I will say, though, that I didn't know when it was coming, as my mother and I always thought that it happened near the end, and I wasn't aware of the gimmick of killing off a famous actor so early on. As a result, the build-up to it was still effective for me: Norman's gone back up to the house, Marion is in her room, deducting $700 from the $40,000 she stole, and then, after tearing the paper up, she goes into the bathroom and flushes it down the toilet. When she went into the bathroom, I had a feeling it was coming but, once she took her robe off and stepped into the tub, I thought, "Oh, she's doomed now." Those last few moments before the murder are so great: she begins her shower, is clearly enjoying the soothing feeling of it, and you get a nice, thoroughly Hitchcockian shot of the shower-head and the water going all-around the camera without getting the lens wet, when you see a figure obscured by the shower curtain enter the room behind her, pull back the curtain, and then all hell breaks loose. The impressive thing about the actual murder is that it goes by lightning-fast and is a bunch of rapidly-edited shots made to look like you've seen her get absolutely butchered when, you really look at it, you virtually never see the knife penetrate the flesh. It's mainly a rapid series of close-ups of the killer slashing at her and her reacting and trying to defend herself, with cutaways of the blood running across the floor of the tub and angles that make it look like she really did get stabbed, like when the knife seems to go in-between her breasts as she turns. The only shot where it looks like the knife does cut her is a very quick one where the blade goes across her stomach and the tip seems to dig into the flesh beneath her belly-button (the second image on the left here). You'd have to slow the film down to even notice it and even then, it's hard to tell if the blade really did cut into her or if it's just the angle and lighting that makes it look so. There are rumors that Janet Leigh wore mole-skin in order to cover up her nudity, so it's possible that's what the knife cut into, or that they used reverse photography to accomplish the shot and that may have caused it, but I'm still not sure, and I've heard so many different theories that I don't even know what to believe anymore. Lastly, what struck me about the scene the first time I saw any images from it is how the killer's face is completely blacked out and you can't make out who it is at all (and in case you didn't know, it's not Anthony Perkins but a double, which Hitchcock used to throw people even more off-track). And yet, when the curtain is first pulled back, you can see the killer's eyes if you look closely, which is very unsettling.

Just as effective as the shower scene to me is the aftermath. After the killer leaves, Marion slumps down into the tub, bleeding to death, grips the shower curtain, and then falls over the rim of the tub, tearing it down with her. You get more Hitchcockian shots of the blood going down the shower drain and close-up of Marion's dead eye that pulls back to reveal her entire head. And then, you hear Norman scream from the house, "Mother! Oh, God, Mother! Blood! Blood!", (in post, Hitchcock had the bass removed from Perkins' voice to make him sound especially young), and he comes running down to the motel, discovers the body, and is horrified at what he sees. I was pretty interested and, at the same time, troubled, by the following sequence, where he removes the body, wraps it up in the shower curtain, and, after thoroughly washing his hands of the blood, cleans up the tub's bottom and side, as well as the floor around it, with a mop and bucket. I had never heard anybody mention this before and so, it was an effective sequence, as it was when he put Marion's body into the trunk of her car, gathered up all her belongings, checking every inch of the room to make sure he didn't miss anything, including the newspaper where she hid the money (Hitchcock has a nice moment of tension there where Norman overlooks the paper but, when he goes back in for one final check, sees it), and put them in there with her, and then sank the car into the swamp in the back of the motel. And like I said, it's a testament to how likable Perkins is in the role, despite how sinister he appears to be even at this point, that when the car goes down about halfway and stops, it's not uncommon for people to gasp and go, "Oh, God, he's going to get caught!" It's made even more effective by how nervous he is when he's watching it sink, crazily munching on candy corn, and when it gets stuck, he looks around like, "Oh, shit!"

As great as the shower scene is, it's the other death in the film, that of Arbogast, that I've always found to be more disturbing. In fact, his death was possibly the first thing from the movie I ever saw, and it was from a video clue on Jeopardy! when I was a very young kid, believe it or not! I always remembered the image of him getting cut across the face with a shocked expression, although I don't think that clue showed the fall. Regardless, like the shower scene, the build-up to it is great. Not satisfied with what he got from Norman initially, Arbogast goes back to the motel and, after looking around the parlor behind the office, decides to go up to the house to attempt to question Mrs. Bates. The way Hitchcock shoots his descent up the stairs and how Bernard Herrmann plays his music, you know something's about to happen, and that's when you see a shot of a door slowly opening. Cut to an overhead shot of the top of the stairs and, as Arbogast reaches the top and begins to turn to his left, the same figure who killed Marion comes running out of the room, accompanied by those same shrieking violins, and before Arbogast knows what hit him, he gets a nasty slash across the side of his face and falls backwards down the stairs. The part that always gets me, though, is when he falls to the bottom, Norman is on him within a second, and you see a close-up of the knife stabbing into him out of frame, accompanied by Arbogast's agonized scream. When you combine this with the crazed stabbing in the shower scene, it's small wonder why Psycho is often regarded as the grandfather of the slasher genre.

As he had for every Hitchcock movie since The Trouble With Harry, Bernard Herrmann provided the music and, along with his score for Vertigo, it's possibly the most famous work he ever did. To compliment the black-and-white photography, he decided to go with a score that was 100% string-oriented rather than a full orchestra and it works effectively well, as there are some pieces in the score that are genuinely creepy and unsettling. Being used to the screeching theme for the shower scene, I was quite surprised by the main title theme, which is this very fast-paced, frantic piece which seems to mirror the actions of the black and gray lines shooting across the screen, dragging the credits into place with them. It's music that lets you know from the outset that you're in for something frightening, and it's heard again three times when Marion is driving and fretting about her situation, mirroring not only her fear but perhaps also forewarning her eventual demise. The music that follows that is the complete opposite: a calm, slow, peaceful-sounding tune that fits in with the feeling of a lazy, hot afternoon, and is followed by a slightly warmer and more poignant piece during the moments between Marion and Sam in the hotel room, hinting at their tryst as well as the hopelessness of their romance given the circumstances. The slower music beforehand is repeated many times throughout the film, such as when Marion arrives at the car dealership, when Norman comes down from the house after his argument with his mother, when he shows her into the parlor, when she's sitting at the desk in her room before heading for the shower, and, most effectively, when Sam goes out to the Bates Motel to try to find Arbogast is unaware that Norman is standing at the edge of the swamp behind the motel. There's a rhythmic piece, fittingly called "Temptation" in the album listing, that first plays when Marion is packing and considering stealing the money and it's played again whenever it's dealing with the money, like when Marion takes out the $700 to pay for her car and when she hides it after being shown to her motel room.

Two of the eeriest pieces of the score occur right after each other. When Norman becomes quietly angry from Marion's suggestion that he put his mother in an asylum, you hear a low, menacing string followed by some higher and more quiet but unnerving strings as he explains his reasons for not doing so. You hear this piece again when Norman gathers up Marion's things after the murder, whenever there's something dealing with his house and his mother, and at the very end where, as you see Marion's car being dragged out of the swamp, you hear that low bit of the music much louder than before and some very disturbing, dissonant chords as the movie ends. The other creepy piece is heard when Marion goes back to her room after her dinner and talk with Norman. It starts off fairly innocuous and even sounds kind of touching as Norman watches her go, but as he walks to the back wall of the parlor and listens to her moving around, it becomes far more menacing until he takes the picture down and looks through the peephole, whereupon the strings get very high and creepy as he watches Marion undress. From there, it goes into a plucking sort of rhythm and not as unsettling but those high strings stick with you, and similar, quiet-sounding strings can be heard in other spots, most notably when Arbogast goes back to the motel and looks around. I already mentioned the creepy bit you hear after Sheriff Chambers who's buried out in the cemetery in her place if Mrs. Bates is alive and well. A climbing sort of rhythm is heard when Lila heads up towards the Bates house and she investigates Mrs. Bates' room, the music is very soft but has hints of menace to it, and when she goes into Norman's bedroom, the music plays up the notion that it looks like a child's room more than that of a young man. The strings become lower and more unsettling the longer she's in there, becoming very loud when she looks at the book and the scene cuts back to Sam talking with Norman. Finally, you have the legendary music for the shower scene, known as "The Murder" in the track listing, and while I can't say anything else about it that hasn't already been said and that's different from when I talked about the scene itself, I will say that it's interesting that Hitchcock intended for that scene to be played without music. In fact, there's a special feature on the DVDs and Blu-Ray releases where you can watch it without the music and, having seen that, it's a good thing Herrmann insisted on writing something for it because it's not nearly as effective without it. Also, the music is heard two more times afterward, in a much faster and even more threatening version when Arbogast is attacked and killed, and when Lila is confronted by the maniacal Norman near the end, where the music is followed up on by some crazy, freakish strings as the camera lingers on the skeletal face of Mrs. Bates' corpse.

At this point, Psycho is a movie that can and has spoken for itself so effectively that it really doesn't merit any more analysis or lauding. For me, it's my personal favorite Alfred Hitchcock film and always will be, as it has everything you could want in a suspense thriller/horror film: superlative acting, a well-told story, crisp, masterful direction, a low budget, seedy feeling that's unusual for Hitchcock, great use of editing and locations, well-done sets, especially in regards to the Bates house and motel, scenes and music that have become deservingly iconic, and so on and so on. These kind of movies are pretty difficult to review since it's hard to say anything about them that hasn't already been said and I've tried to give my own personal viewpoint but honestly, do I need to say anything else about Psycho? Bottom line, if you haven't seen it, then get out from under the rock you're living under and check it out ASAP.

No comments:

Post a Comment