Psycho (1960)
(Release Date: June 16, 1960)

Five Stars... Suspend your SuspenseFive Stars... Suspend your SuspenseFive Stars... Suspend your SuspenseFive Stars... Suspend your SuspenseFive Stars... Suspend your Suspense

We all go a little Mad sometimes!

World's Greatest Psycho Critic... Quest ca C'est!!!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!
You'd be INSANE not to Download Psycho and watch it on your Computer now!

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So we see where Jamie Lee got her good looks from... Whoa!

A Shower of Trivia

For you Psycho-phyles out there...
  • Janet Leigh is considered one of the first ever "Scream Queens" to appear in a popular format. Years later Leigh's daughter (with Tony Curtis) became known as one of the greatest scream queens of all time. Yep, I'm talking about Jamie Lee Curtis!
  • Marion's Boyfriend is named "Sam Loomis", the name of the private investigator in the Halloween movies, which made Jamie Lee Curtis a star.
  • The character of Norman Bates, especially as he relates to his Mother was based (loosely) on the true story of Ed Gein, who also served as the model for Leatherface.
  • The Infamous "Shower Scene" contains 90 cuts (no pun intended... I mean "camera" cuts).
  • I first saw Psycho during a school lock-in when I was ten years old. The teacher's reasoning? "Oh, it's not that bad!" Look how I turned out.
  • The "Psycho House" is actually built much smaller than is practical (mainly to make it look farther away when seen from the motel), and contains no inside space or rooms. The rooms were filmed on a seperate set. The house still stands on the Universal Studios Back Lot (I've seen it many times).
  • Although the original Bates Motel was torn down years ago, there is a replica that exists just down the path from the "Psycho house", in basically the same place as the original. This was built for the Television Movie The Bates Motel" and still stands to enrich the Universal Studio Tour experience.
  • As in Night of the Living Dead and most other Black and White films where blood is used, Chocolate Syrup takes the place of red-karo in Psycho because it appears so much bolder in Black and White!
  • Hitch has a Cameo in most all of his films... Here he appears outside Marion's office in a Cowboy hat... and he stays there... and stays there... and stays there... and...
  • Hitchcock used his crew from the television program "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on this film, ruffling a few Hollywood Feathers. While this did serve to save some production costs, this was mainly done for purposes of loyalty!

-Psychopathologically yours,

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What is there to say about Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho that hasn't already been said so many times you could barf and plotz simultaneously? This is unquestionably one of the best experiments in suspense and outright horror ever made, and it was made without the cheap-as-an-on-ramp-hooker cliché tricks that one might expect from lesser arteurs than old "Hitch". It's safe to say that Psycho is packed with surprising "Firsts" and still to this day hasn't been topped (Gus Van Sant included). However, the most striking thing about Psycho is that this film is indeed a Drama, one of romance, police chases and corporate embezzlement that just happens to cross paths with a boy and his mother out in the sticks who have a rather... unique... method of treating their guests.

For those of you who missed the boat completely, or simply could use a recap, Psycho is the tale of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a young secretary in a hot romance with her divorced, and poor, lover Sam (John Gavin). They want to be together, but lack of funds keeps them frustratingly exactly where they are, in the work-a-day world of 1960 Phoenix. However, when Marion is given the tempting duty of stowing forty-thousand of her boss' dollars in a safe deposit box one Friday, Marion's future's so bright she's gotta wear shades... she's gotta wear shades!

On her way to a bright tomorrow, Marion stops at the now infamous "Bates Motel", run by young, handsome and repressed Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, in case you just woke up from a Coma). Norman's innocent good looks and whipped personality (due to an overbearing mother who... goes a little Mad sometimes) seem non-threatening enough for our heroine, so imagine her surprise when she comes face to naked face with mom!

What follows is Norman's consistent covering for his mother as Marion's boss, boyfriend and sister seek to track her down. But who is really wearing the pants in the Bates Family, and what happens when the gang and their hired Private Investigator get a little too close to the shocking truth?

You want to talk about surprise twist endings, Psycho's got one to turn M. Night Shyamalan on his ear! That's not even to mention the surprise twist denouement which still has audiences reeling forty-five years after the fact!

One would expect nothing less from the brilliant directorial mind of Alfred Hitchcock, but it's not simply Hitchcock that shapes this one into the undeniable classic that it is. Janet Leigh's acting and genre-creating scream have been the model that every scream queen since (including that daughter of hers) has followed as best they could. Perkins is brilliant as Norman Bates, playing the boy-next-door to a teddy-bear brilliance, only to show a cold smile when the world around him changes to a twisted nightmare. Supporting characters like Vera Miles' Lila Crane and Martin Balsam's P.I. Milton Arbogast add a canny realism to the receding proceedings.

Though the tricks have been used and reused to the point that they no longer feel new, Hitch's camera work is especially groundbreaking, using blue-screens, rapid MTV cuts and a choregraphed score to build tension while refusing to let it release! His well-orchestrated tapestry of psychosis still makes the audience as uncomfortable as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, especially as the provincial turns to the pathological.

Still, storytelling has changed, though I'm not saying it's at all for the better. Writer Joseph Stefano tacks on an ending that attempts to spoon-feed an explanation for all of this in a way that isn't so needed in this day of Court TV and Daily announcements on BTK. Many of the characterizations feel like riffs on Leave it to Beaver, which actually serves to make the outcome all the more horrific. Being two half-movies stitched together in the middle like a celluloid Frankenstein Monster, a new viewer might feel disconcerted when the slow embezzlement mystery becomes a shocking Serial Killer tale, but for the detailed mind, this is a classic thriller worth your attention. In short, a downside is... Psycho shows its age... and looking at the current crop of American Cheese in the Cineplex, an upside is that Psycho shows its age!

Truly, though, this is a five-star film, and Hitch's use of what you don't see, and the omnipresent red herring still make this an unequalled suspense triumph!

Top to bottom, left to right, Psycho is a disturbing delight, with killer acting, deadly precise directing, and writing that remains loyal to the horrific Robert Bloch's original novel! It still feels new because it's never been topped. Five stars out of Five for Psycho! Haven't seen it? Do! I've left this spoiler free for your enjoyment! Haven't seen it for a while? Come on, do it again, do it again, do it again! This is the shock to beat, and it just might surprise you all over again! So until my mother starts giving me advice that goes far beyond the financial and familial... I'll see you in the next chocolate syrup-smeared reel!

Your mother wants you to
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Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock (1960) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III

who is solely responsible for his views and for the Mother Jokes he still tells!
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