Pop Junk’s 31 Days of Halloween: #8 Psycho

This is arguably Hitchcock’s most well known film and it’s effect on pop culture can not be disputed.  Everything from killing what is seemingly the main character within the first half of the movie to creating one of the most well known horror killers of all time in Norman Bates.  This is the type of movie that I wish I could un-see and see again for the first time with no knowledge of present horror because in the 1960’s this movie had to be a trip.  That being said although that everything has been talked about to death concerning this film, you can still sit and enjoy Hitchcock’s master stroke with every viewing.

The story follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh)  who is unhappy in her job at a  real estate office and unhappy in her romance with hardware store manager Sam Loomis (John Gavin). One afternoon, Marion is given $40,000 in cash to be deposited in the bank. Minutes later, impulse has taken over and Marion takes off with the cash, hoping to leave Phoenix for good and start a new life with her nest egg.  Soon paranoia and exhaustion have started to set in, and Marion decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel to ease her mind. This is where nervous but personable innkeeper Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cheerfully mentions that she’s the first guest in weeks, before he regales her with curious stories about his mother while coming off as quite a creep himself.  This sets up what is one of the most famous scenes in movie history often refereed to as the “shower scene”, which became iconic in pop culture because it is often regarded as one of the most terrifying scenes ever filmed.  Part of its effectiveness was due to the use of startling editing techniques borrowed from the Soviet montage filmmakers, and to the iconic screeching violins in Bernard Herrmann’s musical score. The iconic shower scene is frequently spoofed, given homage to and referenced in popular culture, complete with the violin screeching sound effects.  This sets up the second act where Marion’s sister and a private eye track down her where about’s and figure out the mystery behind Norman Bates and his mother. The psychology of this movie must have blown minds back in 1960’s trying to exlain to a conservative society that this man was a transvestite that split his personality.

While a very entertaining and iconic horror movie, it’s legacy also lies in the trail that it blazes for the horror genre and for Hollywood in general.
In terms of breaking new ground this movie was a god damn jackhammer.  Simple things like showing a female in her under garments laying in bed (just laying) with a man that wasn’t her husband was huge and never seen in film prior to the erosion of the production code.  Hitchcock fought with censors over everything, from the shower scene murder to side-boob.  This guy endured alot of shit for what by today’s standards would fly on regular TV.  Even a scene with a toilet flushing for some reason was considered taboo then and Hitchcock caught shit for that as well, but we thank him because we’re all better for it.  All of these reasons combined make it hard to dispute Hitchcock’s psycho as being one of the most iconic and arguably best horror movies of all time.

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~ by ATOM on October 24, 2011.

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