Psycho (1960) Review

Psycho is a horror/psychological thriller directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock, the film is a loose adaptation of the 1959 novel Psycho written by author Robert Bloch. The original novel was actually inspired by the Serial Killings of Ed Gein who would also be the inspiration for Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter

The film had some big stars to its name including acting Legends the late Janet Leigh and the late Anthony Perkins who play the films main leads Embezzler Marion Crane and Motel owner Norman Bates.

The films plot revolves around Marion Crane a bank worker who steal $40,000 from a client and goes on the run where she eventually ends up at the Bates Motel, a run down and failing Motel ran by its owner Norman Bates a seemingly friendly person but no one knows that he is being emotionally controlled by his manipulative and psychologically abusive elderly mother who has a murderous side to her personality.

Anthony Perkins was made for this role, I don’t know if anyone else could give off such a convincing performance especially considering he had to play two personalities in one role, we have seen this done in other films but there is something about Norman Bates which feels very real and not in any way silly or over the top. Perkins plays both his Norman and Mother personalities as two different sides to the character with one being overly friendly and the other unhinged and dangerous while managing to maintain a creepiness factor throughout all of his screen time.

Janet Leigh and the supporting cast all deserve credit too because everyone was brilliant in this, out of the entire movie what made me the most nervous wasn’t Norman Bates but Marion Crane on the run, there are so many moments where she almost gets caught and it did leave me on the edge of my seat, two parts specifically where when she was at the traffic light and sees her boss from the bank crossing the road and the other was when she was buying a car with a shot of a police officer watching her from the background. In the scene she is extremely nervous and trying to buy a car as quickly as possible so she can get away from the situation but the car sales man doing his job keeps trying to sell her other vehicles giving the officer more time to come over and see what is going on.

A lot of the best moments in the movie are thanks to Hitchcock’s direction and camera angles, not only does he help to make those scenes with Marion on the run a lot more intense but it’s the way he films the mother so we never see her face that helps to keep the big twist at the end really jaw dropping but it actually makes the character a lot scarier.

The famous shower scene is a great example where we only see the figure behind the curtain before it opens and Marion Crane is murdered, I should say that they originally tried fake blood for this scene but it didn’t look right in Black and White so chocolate syrup was used instead.

This was really the first major twist of the movie because Marion Crane was in all of the advertising and really was the secondary main character of the film, her dying so early on would have shocked audiences back in 1960 this was another reason why the film was put in black and white because Hitchcock wasn’t sure audiences were ready to see a stabbing in colour yet.

The scene is not overly gory and the choice to end the shot with the blood going down the shower drain was really impactful without showing us the grizzly details, I wish more films today would make choices like this as a lot of modern horror is in competition for gory kills and jump scares.

The scariest and in my opinion best directed scene in the movie is actually the big reveal when Lila Crane finally finds Mrs Bates in the basement, she turns her around to confront her and is met with a skeleton, she screams, the iconic music comes on and Norman Bates dressed in his mothers clothes bursts through the door knife in hand screaming.

This twist was huge back then and was such a worry from the studios that they actually made Hitchcock extend it so that we see Bates being incarcerated which is then followed by a dull scene with a psychiatrist explaining why Norman is the way he is.

I loved the entire movie but this one scene at the end, it is so unnecessary and really drags on taking away from the perfect flow the rest of the movie had. Until his death Hitchcock always spoke of how much he despised this scene.

The Studios never wanted to fund this movie and eventually Hitchcock did manage to get a measly budget of around $800,000 which given inflation is only around $8,000,000 today.

Because of this serious budget cuts had to be made such as filming the movie in Black and White and using crew members from his Alfred Hitchcock presents Television series who were more affordable than bigger stars at the time.

Hitchcock agreed to take no earnings for the film giving up his usual $250,000 fee until its release where he would take 60% of its overall gross, this was a way to put Hitchcock off the idea of making the movie but this plan seriously backfired in the studios face because the film went on to make $50,000,000 meaning that Hitchcock walked away a very rich man and made more money than the studios themselves.

Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho is a Masterpiece of the Horror Genre and one of the greatest movies of all time, its one of Hitchcocks most celebrated works and has been forever protected in the American Film Institute.

There isn’t really much to say other than if you haven’t seen this you should definitely go and watch it, it was the inspiration for a lot of horror icons and future franchises to come, this is one movie that I will be watching every October.

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