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12 August 2011

Psycho (1960) 100th Review!

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Joseph Stefano
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Horror
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Even after over 50 years “Psycho” is resonate as ever. It is a film that stays fresh in the mind long after viewing and that is how strong the impression of this film is. Master of suspense director Alfred Hitchcock co-ordinated every shot of the film with great finesse and often the film is considered his his best work. "Psycho" is revolutionary and will still be as satisfying an experience in years to come. So far from the five or so films, I have seen of his, this is certainly the most chilling, thrilling, suspenseful and satisfying so far. It is an amazing achievement for cinema because of how it changed horror forever.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is unhappy in her job at a Phoenix, Arizona real estate office and frustrated 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 purloined nest egg. 36 hours later, paranoia and exhaustion have started to set in, and Marion decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel, where nervous but personable innkeeper Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cheerfully mentions that she is the first guest in weeks, before he regales her with curious stories about his mother.

The acting was remarkable here form Janet Leigh to Anthony Perkins. The thin and powerful Leigh as Marion Crane gave a wonderful flare that in several scenes, really has the tension of the scene. Perkins was fantastic playing the psychotic and socially out-of-touch Norman Bates. At first, he seems a friendly guy, but as we reach the end of the film, we learn more. His character just shows everything is not as it seems. Perkins was a real star with hi character and did an excellent job. These kind of villains that Hitchcock make are brilliant because they are charming, friendly and handsome ones, so it makes things all the more powerful when the action hits. Alongside these two stars are great supporting roles from John Gavin as Sam and Vera Miles as Marion’s sister Lila Crane. Their roles become more important to the plot as they become involved which makes it a riveting drama.

From the thrilling title music to the infamous shower scene, Hitchcock is the cinematic genius behind this film. The music was no less than astonishing and definitely, tones up the suspense right from the title sequence. The music today is renowned and is a terrific achievement by Bernard Herman. The music is culturally known and the shower scene along with its music over the years has been spoofed several times, which shows its cultural impact. 

The rich source material came from the book that Hitchcock bought the rights to of the same name by author Robert Bloch. The novel was loosely inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who lived just 40 miles from Bloch. The story itself is genius and is an amazing story that ends with a huge plot twist. However, not just the film’s rich source material gives it its name. Hitchcock’s direction made the film what it has become today.
Hitchcock’s masterful film editing and production from his well thought through storyboards go to the screen with great effect. The cinematography here is golden and for any film buff, it is more than pleasing. The famous shower scene features over 77 camera angles and is one of the finest co-ordinated scenes of any film. In one shot, the camera points directly at Janet Leigh’s face, a moment that will have you still until it is over. Seeing her eyes wide open, as her head lies flat on the floor is a horrific moment, which makes it one of the most famous shots in cinema history. From the lighting to the inter-cutting, Hitchcock was the man who knew what he was doing.

The Iconic shower scene.
To believe this film was not high budget in any way. Instead of using the crew in which he just finished North by Northwest he filmed it with his TV production team of his television show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” on a budget of $800 000. He wanted a greater budget at Paramount but they simply would not give him the money, so here we have a near B-movie that is A-Grade quality in its black and white glory.
The suspense scale was tremendous here and will have you on edge after 20 minutes in. With the amazing music along with the story creates a great tension that only Hitchcock could do. Another thing that gives this film the ultimate edge and makes it resonate for the viewer is the outstanding plot twist. The final minutes of the film, has a great explanation of the mystery behind the events that happen and mentions the psychotic state the human brain can go into. That is the best way I can explain it without revealing anything and it is mandatory not to. It is an experience to be enjoyed start to finish without any knowing of what will happen next.

Even up to this day the film lives up to its expectation and unlike today’s horror slash flicks that present you with all the gore and violence, it leaves your imagination to create images yourself which makes it such a great horror film. These kinds of films that remain timeless because of what they do, and this as a horror film should stay a classic for years to come. For the moment, it is certainly one of my favourite horror films, if not the most and with many a good reason.

Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates.
 During the time, Psycho announced that it was taking the audience to places it had never been before, and on that score what followed would hardly disappoint. On screen, Hitchcock says the thrill and scares seen in the film are pure cinema, and pure cinema it is indeed.  “Psycho” is a huge leap in to the horror genre making it aesthetically important and most of all, entertaining. With the strengths of Hitchcock’s actresses, his signature cameo and remarkable suspense, “Psycho” is one of the best horror experiences you could ask for that is filled with golden Hitchcock cinematography from start to end.

My Rating: 10/10


  1. Great review Thomas!... A great choice for review 100... Congratulations!... :)

  2. Another great review! This is indeed a great choice for your movie reviewing landmark! I could only dream about making it to 50 reviews! I really seem to lack the motivation compared to you. So, don't be like me, and keep it up! By the way, have you seen Vertigo? If you haven't, then you should definitely make it your priority. It's my favorite Hitchcock film, and I'm sure you would love it if you loved Psycho.

  3. Congratulations on your 100th and excellent review of Psycho Thomas!!!

  4. Excellent review, I'm glad you liked it this much! Truly a cinematic landmark.

  5. Thanks very much Nick! :) I hope to see Vertigo soon which is on my Hitchcock collection and I can't wait to see it!

  6. Congratulations on your 100th review and I wish you many more!!! I absolutely love this remarkable film. Excellent review ;)

  7. Congrats on 100 reviews man, that's really impressive work!

    Psycho is my favourite Hitchcock, such a ground breaking piece of cinema that retains the power to shock and thrill even today.

  8. Excellent review and congrats on your milestone!

    I'll admit Psycho isn't one of my favorites - I think it's a bit contrived, and the middle third of the film drags a lot. But the parts that work are superb. Anthony Perkins's performance is incredible as you say.

  9. I loved Psycho, such a great movies and one of the few which I have given a 10/10. It's my favorite Hitchcock movie (although I haven't seen all of them yet).

    Congratulations on your 100th post!

  10. thanks a lot! :)

  11. It sure is, thank you.

  12. Thanks Groggy! Perkins was excellent.

  13. It is pretty much impossible to not know about the shower scene before seeing this movie. While watching it I was wishing that I didn't. I was left wondering what I would have thought about the movie if I was surprised.

  14. indeed, thanks a million for all your comments.



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