Horror Franchise Movie Month has come to a close and we’re wrapping things up with the granddaddy slasher movie of them all; Psycho. What else can you say about this flick that already ain’t been said? We all know that Alfred Hitchcock kicked everybody’s ass on this one. We all know that the shower scene is the greatest scene ever filmed. We all know that composer Bernard Herrmann crafted the greatest score of all time. What more NEEDS to be said?
Well… allow me to add my two cents.
(BEWARE MAJOR SPOILERS… OH WAIT, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS FLICK; STOP READING THIS IMMEDIATELY AND GO WATCH PSYCHO… LIKE NOW!!!)
To me what makes Psycho so horrifying is that the killer isn’t a vampire or a stitched together monster, but a seemingly “normal” human being. Norman Bates is the guy next door. Up to this point in time, killers in the movies were out and out bad guys. What was so revolutionary about Norman Bates was that he was the kinda guy that in real life you have to watch out for.
Anthony Perkins gives us a performance for the record books. He plays
The film’s other major character; Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is equally fascinating. She works at a bank where she sees some money and is immediately tempted. The cash is her way out of a dead end job and a means to pay off her boyfriend’s debts. After she steals the money though, she has a change of heart.
Psycho is an amazing exercise in audience loyalty. In the beginning, you’re with
By the time
And that’s all she wrote.
I could sit here and go on and on about how great the shower scene is but you already know that. Instead I’ll discuss the ramifications of this scene. It’s here where Hitchcock pulls the rug out from under us. We’re disoriented. We’ve lost our leading lady. This movie used to be about
What’s amazing about the film (even 50 years later) is the amount of suspense Hitchcock milks out of the tiniest scene. Like when
When Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam from Muthafuckin’ Death Wish 3) comes to the motel looking for
Every shot of Psycho is Hitch on his A-Game. The shower scene gets all the kudos but Arbogast’s murder on the steps is awesome too. Once “Mother” slashes his face and he falls down the stairs, the camera follows Arbogast all the way down. The shower scene was a shocker. It showed that death could be unexpected. Here, Hitchcock keeps the camera fixed on Arbogast’s face the whole time. Hitchcock edited the shower scene into 78 little cuts. Arbogast’s death is one shot. Whereas
After Arbogast’s death,
You know, everyone bitches about the final “explanation” of
I’ve seen Psycho dozens of times but it’s incredible how well it holds up even after you know all the twists. You may know everything there is about the film but you can still marvel at the way Hitchcock works his audience over.
Alfred Hitchcock is The Master and Psycho is his masterpiece.
In addition to being Numero Uno on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year for 1960, Psycho is also Number 6 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of All Time List, sandwiched in between Halloween and John Carpenter’s The Thing.
<On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone for checking out the site for your daily dose of Horror Movie Franchise Reviews. I never actually thought that I’d be able to meet all my deadlines, but I surprised even myself on this little endeavor. Some time in the near future I will hope to do a similar month-long look at some Action Movie Franchises.>