Movie Review- Psycho

Hi Folks,

 

 

Here we are our very last Slasher Saturday and we are going with the granddaddy of ‘em all this week. The one the only the masterpiece:

 

 

 

Psycho (1960)

 

 

 

Fast Facts

 

What do you live under a rock or something? This is Psycho Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 gift to horror that would spawn the slasher genre and create ten thousand knife wielding maniacs all modeled after this knife wielding maniac:

 

 

Ed Gein was a sick bastard

 

 

Our story centers (sorta) around Marion Crane a secretary who steals a large sum of money from her employer in order to be with her boyfriend. (it was the 60’s) While on the lamb she stops at the Bates Motel for a rest and the rest…is history.

 

 

Above: Horror's Caesar

 

Cast

 

We have so much to thank you for

Janet Leigh- Plays Marion Crane and owes her legacy to that time she took a shower on camera…also the mother of Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis…can you say irony? She does an amazing job in this; she’s playing kind of an unlikable character but she still grabs your sympathy at every turn.

It's good to be Janet Leigh's boyfriend

John Gavin- Plays Sam Loomis the boyfriend, he’s supposed to be a good guy but he comes off kind of like a dirtbag, not sure if it’s intentional but it certainly works.

 

Not so much to be her sister

Vera Miles- Plays Lila Crane, Marion’s sister and the only competent person in this film.

 

Commence offerings of tribute

Anthony Perkins- There is no satisfactory way to describe Mr. Perkins’ performance, it’s perfect, absolutely perfect. He’s charming, creepy, likable, vulnerable, sweet, menacing and everything else on the spectrum in between and he is absolutely believable.

 

Observations

 

I don’t think I have to tell you the impact this movie has had. This day of the week in Shocktober wouldn’t exist without it. It is the original and the best example of what it takes to scare an audience with a guy holding a knife.

 

Lots and lots of neon

 

It’s done with virtually no gore.

 

I mean you’re talking about a movie that got flak at the time for playing audio of a toilet flushing for pete’s sake and it still manages to scare you with some good old fashioned suspense and some truly terrifying plot.

 

Also scary houses are important

Norman Bates is one of the most terrifying characters in cinematic history; Lecter, Myers, Voorhees, Krueger they’ve got nothing on this guy. He draws you in till you feel sorry for him and then pulls the rug out from under you in the final act.

 

Hitchcock is a master; there is no question of toying with the audience and he makes you his personal plaything from the first minute until the last.

 

But of course there are three sequences in this movie, three best of the best that we have to touch on.

 

 

  1. The shower scene

 

You are legally obligated to talk about this if you’re talking about Psycho the sound effects are iconic, the high pitched shrieking of violins has become the definitive sound of something terrible happening right this minute.

 

Yup you'll make that face too

We all know the blood was chocolate syrup right? That might be my favorite bit of trivia for this thing I mean how can you not love that kind of pragmatism.

 

Also she actually bleeds out for a second as opposed to instantaneous death upon stabbing

Janet Leigh was a major star when this was made and this is the first mindfuck of the movie. It’s unfortunately a bit lost on modern audiences because Leigh is now best known FOR this movie. But this would be a little like giving Angelina Jolie top billing and then killing her a half hour in.  No one saw it coming and it’s sheer brilliance on Hitchcock’s part.  The fact that the killer is shown in silhouette; providing us with the set up for the second mindfuck just makes it better.

 

Stuff nightmares are made of

 

  1. The dinner scene

 

Should've been a clue

Now this doesn’t even have a kill in it (though it does immediately precede number 1) but it’s my favorite scene in the entire movie for one thing and one thing only. Perkins’ performance in this scene is flawless, he’s just sitting there talking to Marion polite chatter even and he completely draws you in, he’s sweet and unbelievably charming but the menace that’s lurking underneath everything he says is palpable. I can’t honestly say whether the original audience would have been fooled by this act since I come into it knowing who the killer really is but he certainly lays the groundwork for either.

At least he took her to dinner first

 

The writing in this scene is great the dialogue between the two leads is earnest and sincere and both Leigh and Perkins throw enough subtext into it to sink the Titanic. When you pay particular attention the best thing about this scene is that you can tell the EXACT moment when he decides he’s going to kill her and that is just priceless storytelling.

 

The vulture is a nice touch

 

  1. The big reveal

 

Again I don’t think I need to tell anyone what the final twist is but we’ll go over it anyway. Norman is the killer but he’s been dressing up like his dead mother to do the deed.

 

Yeah...so what?

First off the effects for this scene are incredible for the time; the mummified face of Mrs. Bates is terrifying even in black and white, the lead up to the scare impeccable. As Vera Miles walks slowly up to the spinning chair you know something is wrong but you don’t know quite what.

Nah nothing wrong here

There’s just something slightly off about the whole thing and then:

 

 

AAAHHHH! very wrong very wrong very wrong!

 

BAM

 

And then nary a second later:

 

That dress does nothing for his eyes

 

BAM again and you’re utterly floored if you’ve somehow managed to avoid knowing the plot of the  movie up to this point.

 

 

Though honestly even then...

 

 

Now obviously there’s a lot we aren’t covering but we wouldn’t want to ruin the whole damn thing now would we? Even if you know everything about Psycho even if you’ve seen it; go watch it again. It’s one of those movies that no matter how many times I queue it up I notice something new in the cinematography or the actors’ performances that I just love. It’s that perfect.

 

Just like his face

 

Final Thoughts

 

Psycho is the slasher movie that started it all and is certainly the most highly thought of, for good reason. Hitchcock gave us one of the best horror movies ever made with this one. I have never met anyone who didn’t get scared watching it and I dare you to prove me wrong. There is not a thing I would change about this movie.

 

He might come after me

 

All in all a perfect 10 for 10

 

 

 

Your reverent Screamstress,

 

 

 

~Fright Dyke

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