Monday, October 27, 2008
Classic Horror Film: Psycho (The Original)
Psycho is a 1960 horror file direct by Alfred Hitchcock, based on a novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, about a psychotic killer. The film centers around an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after stealing from her employer, and the motel’s owner, the lonely Norman Bates, (played by Anthony Perkins).
Marion Crane is a Phoenix, Arizona secretary who is fed up with having to sneak away during lunch breaks to meet her divorced boyfriend, Sam Loomis. They can not get married because most of Sam’s money goes to paying alimony.
One Friday, Marion’s employer asks her to take $40,000 in cash to a local bank to deposit. Desperate to make a change in her life, she makes the decision to run away to be with Sam and make a new life in California with the money.
As night falls and a torrential rain blurs the road ahead, Marion turns off the main highway. Exhausted from the long drive and the stress of her criminal act, she makes the decision to spend the night at the Bates Motel. The motel is run by Norman Bates, a peculiar young man who appears to be very much under the control of his invalid mother.
Although the movie initially received mixed reviews it is now regarded as one of Hitchcock’s best films and has won numerous international awards. Psycho was and remains a genre defining film. The film has spawned several sequels and a remake in 2000, but nothing comes close to the original.
The films use of shadows, mirrors, windows and water as key themes was instrumental in its success of creating suspense. The shadows are present from the very first scene, casting the appearance of bars as Marion peers out her room window. The stuffed birds’ cast a shadow over Marion as she eats and of course Norman’s mother always appears in the shadows until the very end of the movie.
Mirrors reflect Marion as she packs, her eyes as she checks the rear view mirror, her face in the policeman’s sunglasses, and her hands as she counts out the money in the car dealership’s bathroom.
Even if you have never seen the movie, we are all familiar with "The Shower Scene". This scene has been studied, discussed, and cited countless times in print and in film courses with much debate on why it is so terrifying and how it was produced, including how it passed the censors in 1960.
Psycho is definitely a horror film classic and another great Friday night video rental.