Psycho (1960)

DVD Cover (Universal Special Edition)
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Overall Rating 83%
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Ranked #155
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Connections: Person: Ed Gein Psycho

Phoenix office worker 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 forty thousand dollars 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. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 31, 2007
There are so many legends surrounding "Psycho", it's difficult to know where to start. It is the most influential horror film ever made, and it might have invented the horror genre as we know it today. It's almost uncanny to think that this film was released back in 1960. Hitchcock was creating films that would still not really catch on for another decade, yet those films were still successful due to the fact that his illustrious name was attached to them. "Psycho" stands out as Hitchcock's most mesmerizing cinematic experience. He purchased the rights to the Robert Bloch novel for the tiny sum of $9,000.00 and then bought up as many copies of the book as he could to keep the ending a secret for audiences - now, that's dedication and appreciation for your fans. Hitchcock also made the film for $800,000.00 - low budget even by 1960 standards. He used his crew from "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" to help save both time and money. The end result of all this labor was a film that would shock audiences as much as it would entertain them - "Psycho".

The film opens with the beautiful Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she 'finishes up' with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin). We all remember the famous dolly shot that leads into the hotel room. Marion then proceeds to steal $40,000.00 from her boss' rich client and flees town. Her crimes take her to the Bates Motel, on an isolated road in the middle of nowhere, where she meets a strange yet somewhat inviting desk clerk named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). We can tell something is a little off with Norman, as he has odd conversations with his mother who lives in the old house behind the motel. Eventually, Marion Crane is murdered in her shower, during probably the most horrifying horror sequence ever filmed. Enter Lila Crane (Vera Miles), Marion's sister, who starts to worry about her sister and goes on an investigation with Sam, a search which eventually leads them to the Bates Motel and to Norman Bates. Martin Balsam co-stars as Detective Arbogast, who is also on the trail of Marion Crane for different reasons. The ending of the film was the very first film to feature the 'shock ending' as we know it today. Audiences could still not believe what they were seeing, the censors had a field day, and Hitchcock was laughing all the way to the bank.

What makes "Psycho" work, and what made it so 'controversial' in 1960 was the realism. This was a horror film that could actually happen. As outlandish as some of the circumstances were and as horrific as the ending seemed, it was not far from what could conceivably be the truth. The book was actually based on Ed Gein, the serial killer who murdered his victims and then decorated his home with their body parts. So, in a sense, "Psycho" was real from the beginning, somewhat. Up until that point, in horror, most films were about vampires and werewolves and creatures crawling out of the swamp to cause havoc. Audiences knew they were watching fiction. Hitchcock made it nerve-racking to even take a shower anymore. This film actually invented the clear shower curtain. When has a film been responsible for changing popular culture like that? The one place you should be able to feel safe in your home - the bathroom - was now a homicide waiting to happen. And Janet Leigh's icy death stare didn't help to ease matters for the audience. "Psycho" was for the 1960's what "The Exorcist" was for the 1970's. They shocked, yet still entertained.

Even today, when you sit down to watch "Psycho", you have to be prepared. It's still a very dark and grisly experience. Almost fifty years have passed since it was first released, but that has only slightly lessened the visceral impact it continues to have on audiences. Gus Van Sant dared a shot by shot remake of the film with Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche, but it just didn't work. It was missing all of the things that made the original so great - two words - Alfred Hitchcock. The nerve and the ego of someone to think they could tackle Hitchcock like that - with a shot by shot remake. There is a difference between paying homage and just being a douche. "Psycho" is still one of the finest examples of American cinema that we've yet to see produced - not just the horror genre, but the entire film world. "Psycho" rests as Hitchcock's masterpiece. As much as some would like to say some of his other films were better (they might have been), it is undeniable that none of his films carried the same impact and the same legacy as this one. Norman Bates became not only a murderer, but also a staple of popular culture and an impending threat. And, just think, that was the same house that was used for the 1956 comedy, "Harvey". Go figure. 10/10.
Crispy #1: Crispy - added 02/22/2010, 09:42 PM
Watching from the 2010 zeitgeist, losing the whole "unheard of when he did it" aspect, this is still a damned fine film, although I don't know if I would call it perfect. The second half just loses way too much after the masterfully tense first half. Still, Anthony Perkins absolutely shined in this. Trying to replace him with Vince Vaugn is every bit of disgusting as replacing Jackie Gleason with Cedric the Entertainer
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 02/22/2010, 10:13 PM
Vince Vaugn did such a great job *rolls eyes*. Anyways I thought the movie was great, but like Crissy I didn't find it perfect. 8/10
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