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Psycho
Year:
1960
Country:
USA
Genre:
Thriller, Mystery, Horror
IMDB rating:
8.6
Director:
Alfred Hitchcock
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Vera Miles as Lila Crane
John Gavin as Sam Loomis
Martin Balsam as Milton Arbogast
John McIntire as Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers
Simon Oakland as Dr. Fred Richmond
Vaughn Taylor as George Lowery
Frank Albertson as Tom Cassidy
Lurene Tuttle as Mrs. Chambers
Patricia Hitchcock as Caroline
John Anderson as California Charlie
Mort Mills as Highway Patrol Officer
Storyline: Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam's California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.
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Reviews
My favorite movie...
I think this is one of the best films ever made. It's a true classic. I have seen it over 20 times and I find something new in it every time I see it and it never gets boring. I'm really disappointed that they chose to remake it. But 50 years from now, people will remember the original and not the remake. A lot of people these days will be turned off by the movie because it's old and in black and white, but everyone should see. It's a technical marvel, Hitchcock was a wizard with the camera. There are also terrific performances by Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. This movie basically started the whole slasher film genre that John Carpenter kick-started in 1978 with Halloween. In addition to being a great movie, it's also one of the most influential ever made. Look at films like Brian DePalmas's Dressed to Kill and Halloween if you don't believe me.
1998-11-03
Hitchcock and Herrmann
Robert Bloch wrote the original work, Joseph Stefano adapted it into a tight screenplay but it was Alfred Hitchcock with the extraordinary complicity of Bernard Herrmann who transformed this lurid tale into a classic, horror masterpiece. The score propels us into the moment before the moment arrives provoking the sort of anticipation that verges on the unbearable. The fact that the key scenes have become iconic film moments: copied, imitated, emulated and parodied, have not diminished its impact, not really. The anticipation, underlined by Herrmann's strings, creates a sort of craving for the moment to arrive. That doesn't happen very often. No amount of planning can produce it or re-produce it - otherwise how do you explain the Gus Van Sant version - so, the only possible explanation is an accident, a miraculous film accident and those do happen. Everything falls into place so perfectly that even the things that one may argue are below the smart standard of the film, are needed, the film without every frame is not quite the film. Try to turn away after the climax during Simon Oakland's long explanation. You can't. I couldn't. Partly because you know you'll soon be confronting those eyes, that fly, the car...
2007-11-23
dark, chilling and full of suspense
I saw this movie for the first time in 1974 at age 16 and Anthony Perkins' chilling portrayal as mama's boy Norman Bates frightened me throughout the whole film. It also shed a new light on taking showers alone at home. Even today, in 1999 at age 41 I still get nervous when I hear strange noises while taking a shower.
1999-10-29
Legendary, in both a good and a bad way
Not much to be said about this that hasn't been said before. Only the second Hitchcock film I've ever seen, and so far there isn't a single positive thing that's been said about him that I can disagree with. Calling someone 'The Master' is terminology that I would usually frown upon as being too dismissive of other greatly talented people, but after witnessing the directing, the cinematography, the subtle performances, the inimitable atmosphere and the quiet genius of this masterpiece, I find myself forced to agree. The notorious shower scene manages to be shocking, brutal and understated all at once, and its infamy on the pages of motion picture history is well-deserved. Anthony Perkins is subtly explosive, like a match waiting to be struck. He plays Bates with a boyish, grinning charm that generally belies his chilling insanity. Also worthy of mention is Bernard Herrmann's incredible score, possibly one of the best I've ever heard.

In a curious way, the one thing I find disagreeable about this movie is, indeed, its legend. I cannot imagine how much I would have enjoyed it had I not known any of the plot twists beforehand, and could have gone into it unknowingly. Still, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, the legend is completely due, because this film's merit becomes obvious when you consider that first-time viewers of my generation (I'm 21 years old), who have become inundated with the blood, gore and overblown special effects of today's blockbusters, can still find its subtle ingenuity chilling and scary in equal measure. Beautiful. 10/10
2000-11-27
Anthony Perkins is perfect. Oh yeah so is Hitchcock.
Perkins in my view should have won best actor and Joseph Stefano should have won best screenplay . This movie brought us to the point where anyone could die even the good guys . Without this movie we would be stuck with The Blob & The Thing for scary movies . Now that would be a real life horror.
1999-10-07
Creepy, Excellent, and Amazing Horror Flick! Best Thriller Ever!!
The first time I saw this movie it scared me incredibly. I have been an avid fan of the "Scream" movies since they first came out, and I must say, this movie surpasses them to be #1 on my favorite horror movies.

I wasn't expecting many scares from a movie made in 1960, but once again, Alfred Hitchcock proves why he is the Master of Suspense.

I don't know how the upcoming remake can accurately mimic the original's creepy and frightening feeling, but I'll still be there on opening weekend. BTW, make sure you watch the original BEFORE watching the remake.

I know you've heard it a thousand times, but if you haven't seen this movie, MAKE IT A TOP PRIORITY! It's simply incredible.
1998-11-04
great
This is one Hitchcock's best, except for that dumb final speech, which is entirely unnecessary. But it redeems itself with that final shot. Can you believe they've made another "Psycho?" This is the worst thing to happen to movies since Ted Turner wanted to colorize "Citizen Kane," but that never happened. This is happening. This just sickens me to think about it. And of course we're going to get those geeky teenagers that will make the film a profit. Gus Van Sant used to be a good director, now he's just another make-movies-for-profit-only director. SELL OUT!
1998-10-29
It was a dark and stormy night...
(((((SPOILERS))))

For most people, the most memorable scene in Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO, indeed it's most famous scene, is the shower sequence. It has been broken down and analyzed ad nauseam as an example of the fine art of editing. It is a great sequence, but to me the best scene in PSYCHO occurs just before that. Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, on the run from having committed a crime, sits in the parlor behind the Bates Motel's office and discusses nothing and everything with Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the motel's lonely proprietor. It is a chat between strangers who desperately need to talk to someone, anyone, but have no one to whom they can confide. It is a beautifully written and acted scene, which serves as the calm before the storm.

For all of its flashiness and sleight-of-hand gore, the shower sequence isn't nearly as effective at showing what a master filmmaker Hitchcock was. It is in the parlor scene that the entire narrative spins around; as the audience is prompted to switch their allegiance from Marion to Norman. Nothing really happens in the scene, other than two characters talking, but how things are said reveals as much as what is actually said. Here Marion comes to terms with her mistake and decides to pull herself out of her "private trap." Norman introduces us, indirectly, to Mother and wins our sympathy, which is vital to the way the rest of the film plays out. The scene very skillfully sets the mood of uneasiness that propels us into the upcoming murder, even as it suggests that Marion is achieving a sense of inner peace. Madness is revealed, danger is suggested, yet the audiences is coolly and cruelly lulled into an almost tranquil state. It is obvious something is coming, but not so soon.

Then the shower curtain is ripped aside and blood begins to splatter.

The measure of a film like PSYCHO is not how cleverly it fools you the first time, but how irrelevant its surprises are to enjoying it time after time. Indeed, compare it to Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake, or even Brian De Palma's 1980 semi-remake, DRESSED TO KILL, and the power of the film is obvious. Van Sant's version, though a scene for scene imitation is barely watchable even once, especially if you are already familiar with the plot; and while De Palma's homage is stylish and intriguing the first time around, its psychology and plot tricks don't stand up on repeated viewings. By contrast, Hitchcock's PSYCHO can be viewed repeatedly with full awareness and appreciation of knowing what is coming up next.

I think an element of Hitchcock's genius is apparent in that he doesn't treat his major plot twist as a just a gimmick. The entire first half of PSYCHO could have been treated as just a shaggy dog story, a prelude marking time until Norman Bates' story takes center stage. But Hitchcock realized that Janet Leigh's story had to be presented with all due gravity, otherwise the shift to Anthony Perkins' story wouldn't be nearly as effective. Neither Van Sant nor De Palma seemed to understand this, especially De Palma who treats the Angie Dickinson scenes in DRESSED with a cruel, condescending sense of humor. Hitchcock's PSYCHO works as a whole, but could very easily have been presented as two independent episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents....." Marion Crane's story is not just a build up (though Hitchcock himself claimed that killing off his leading lady was all meant as a joke on the audience), but as a complete story unto itself, replete with the type of shocking twist ending that was the hallmark of Hitchcock's television anthology. Likewise, the Norman Bates half of PSYCHO, is a complete suspense tale in its own right. The shower scene is the bridge between the two stories, but it is the scene in the parlor that cements the two tales -- and the fates of the two protagonist.

And if you look at PSYCHO as two separate parts of a whole, then Marion's story is revealed to be the more complete of the two. Norman's story, while beautifully done, is essentially a mystery story; Sam, Lila and Arbogast are trying to solve a whodunit: what happened to Marion and the $40,000? The cleverness of Hitchcock and screenwriter Joseph Stefano is that they let us think we know the answer right off the bat, building to a conclusion where it is revealed how completely we have been fooled. In the end, we know little more than Lila and Sam. To some extent, this is the real gimmick of the film.

On the other hand, Marion's story allows Hitchcock to make so much out of so little. He creates tension, even though there is no tangible threat. Marion is on the run with stolen funds, but the theft hasn't even been discovered yet. All of the danger is strictly in her mind: What will happen when...? She is a smart woman who has done something very stupid, but proceeds even as her fears grow and grow. But cinematically the suspense is created out of mundane things: a policeman's face at the car window, rain and windshield wipers slashing across the screen, the glare of on coming headlights. Mix this with the haunting voice overs of accusing voices and Bernard Herrmann incredible musical violence and the effect is hypnotic. But these imagined dangers do not prepare Marian or the audience for the real dangers ahead.

And something has to be said for Janet Leigh. Always overshadowed by Anthony Perkins' iconic performance, Leigh never gets her due (though she was nominated for an Oscar, she lost to Shirley Jones in ELMER GANTRY). But she dominates the first half of the film with a vivid performance that is sexual, humorous and bittersweet. So much of her role depends on the subtlety of her facial expressions: her sad smile at pretending to believe Sam's excuses for not marrying her, her bemused glances at the flirtatious old millionaire, her self-satisfied smirks as she thinks about how people will react to discovering her crime, her mixture of concern and fear as she talks to Norman in the backroom parlor. Plus, she displays an attitude that is both smart and sexy. It is one of the great film performance.

It's easy to take PSYCHO for granted now; it has been imitated so many times in so many ways by far lesser talents. Indeed, it's one negative is that it inspired so may pale imitations, including its own three sequels and a very bad remake. Yet even so, PSYCHO remains a one and only original. And its iconic status can't be denied; it redefined the concepts of what a Hitchcock film was and what a horror film could be.
2004-06-13
One of the best horror films of all time. **** out of ****
PSYCHO (1960) ****

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, Janet Leigh, and John McIntire Director: Alfred Hitchcock Running time: 109 minutes Rated R (for scenes of strong violence)

By Blake French:

Alfred Hitchcock is easily one of the most acclaimed directors in film history--right up there with Stanley Kubrick and Steven Speilberg. His films defined horror for generations, especially with what many people are still calling the scariest movie of all time: "Psycho." Over the years, the movie has been given much praise. It has had the honor to be placed in the American Film Institute's best 100 movies of all time list. The film has had the privilege to be re-created in 1998 by great director Gus Van Sant, who also added new actors and coloration to this classic tale. "Psycho" also has had the fortunate pleasure to have been followed up by several time-lapsing sequels, although not equal in quality, which continued the story and characters beyond the original film's restrictions. On top of all this, the movie has a unique story line, unusual characters, imagination-provoking motives, and manages to conduct its rare structure like no other film. "Psycho" is one of the better thrillers of our time.

First lets take a look at the unique but perfectly organized structure of this classic horror tale. It beholds what I call a false first act. The first act opens by introducing a character named Marion Crane, sister of Lila Crane, who steals $40, 000 from her employer one day and is in the process of leaving town when her situation is complicated even more. Marion is pulled over by a mysterious police man, who checks out the circumstances, and then allows her to continue on with her journey. He then follows her many miles to a car dealer, where Marion cleverly trades her current car in for a used junkie to camouflage herself from peering foes. Marion then continues to drive along the busy highway until a shielding rainstorm persuades her to stop to rest at The Bates Motel. (spoilers ahead) Then she meets the owner, Norman Bates, who explains to her that his mother is a lunatic. Marion then goes to her cabin where she is stabbed to death in the shower by an unknown predator who looks like an old woman.

Extraordinary, a simply flawless false first act. The movie introduces a character, a problem, and complicates it for the character involved. Then the conclusion (the murder of Marion) solves the first initial problem, throwing us off balance. While we recover, the filmmakers open a brand new series of events, this time detailing the missing Marion Crane. A detective, Milton Arbogast, who tries to investigate Norman's mother, is also killed in the process of doing so. Lila's investigation of her own evolves the second act problems, all winding towards the same awe-inspiring denouement, which I will not have the audacity to reveal to you.

Now for some nice pointers for "Psycho": The opening scene develops Marion Crane's romantic characteristics as well as her personal morals. The scene in which Marion decides to commit theft is never explained to us through dialogue like many lesser films would do, but through Marion's complex stares at the cash and her reactions to it. The police officer's behavior is a whole plot in itself, and since the character's point of view is so focused, we know nothing more about this suspicious man than Crane herself. The Atmosphere of the Bates Motel is one of the creepiest moods I have ever experienced in the movies. Not to mention the famous shower scene, certainly the most shocking and grisly slasher moment of all time. The investigation of Marion's disappearance has a specific odyssey to it--intriguing and unsatisfying. All these minor elements contribute to making "Psycho" the most talked about films ever.

There is a small, but quite noticeable, opinion flaw in the last ten minutes of "Psycho," however. It is the scene where the detective explains the disturbing behavior of Norman Bates to the film's remaining characters, but also to the audience. This scene has never been necessary. The picture would have ended with much more controversy and fantasy if the writers would have left the strangeness of Norman to the imagination rather than explaining elements to us, not to mention the fact that all answers are revealed in the many sequels. I think it would have been interesting to see what happened if Gus Van Sant would have left that sequence out of his re-make, after all, he added a lustful masturbation scene, so why couldn't he have taken out some unneeded material as well. Oh well, I guess, until another actor attempts to master the terror found in the eyes of Anthony Perkins, we'll just have to juggle around these ideas in our minds of how this near-perfect movie could have been better. Don't you love it when movie's make you do that!

Brought to you by Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures.

1999-10-27
A Master piece
I have been reading some of the comments about Psycho and was shocked to read that some of the viewers thought that it was rubbish. You have to realise that for its day it was a shocker. It broke all the conventions of the horror films in that day. Every shot was carefully thought out, for example, because of film laws, Hitchcock couldn't show the knife touch the body in Shower scene, but the way that it was shot made you believe that you were seeing it.

Many people prefere the new version because it is in colour. Colour films had been around for quite some time when the film was made. Hitchcock decided to make it in Black and White for a reasion. You have to agree that it makes the film very scary. The shadows are enhanced on the house and Norman's face appears to be horribly hollow, just like the final image of his mother.

In my opinion, the new version is good, but the use of colour changes the initial image that Hitchcock wanted to put across.
1999-10-29
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