Tuesday, February 09, 2016

My Review of Psycho (1960)

Written by Joseph Stefano
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Norman (to Marion): "We all go a little mad sometimes."

Indeed, sometimes we do have a tendency to do that, Norman. This movie is certainly one that everyone knows and very few have seen. I remember seeing bits of it as a child and then seeing it in full during a college course about eleven years ago. A lot of what happens in this movie even with a slightly jaded cinema look still holds up pretty well.

I think the reason why this movie works so well is due to it's simplicity in nature to the characters and the unexpected twists it then takes. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals money from her place of work and leaves town, hoping to eventually catch up with her lover Sam Loomis (John Gavin) but first decides to stop by a nice motel barely visible on the road.

The motel's owner is the odd but seemingly harmless Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins who first comes across as a bit of a lonely man before Marion probes him a bit too much about his relationship with his mother and the darker side then emerges. The shocker isn't so much that Marion is later stabbed to death in the shower and disposed of in the swamp but more everything that follows on the death.

The team up of Sam and Marion's sister, Lila (Vera Miles) with private detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam) as they try to discover what happened to Marion but end up learning a lot more about Norman Bates and his mother instead.

The twist of Norma killing his mother and her lover and assuming the mother's personalities to deal with arousal and desire holds up pretty well and Anthony Perkins certainly flits between charm, innocence and menace in such an effortless manner. It's no wonder that over fifty years later that his portrayal of Bates continues to hold up so well and has gone on to inspire so many other fictional killers in television and the movies.

The cinematography in the movie is absolutely gorgeous with some beautifully shot moments that add to the overall tension and macabre manner of the movie. The end scene with Norman sitting in his cell, fully taken over by his mother is the most effecting moment of the entire thing and certainly a powerful way of ending the movie. While there are great performances from Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and John Gavin, this is ultimately Anthony Perkins movie though.

- The novel for this movie is actually a lot more violent with Bates depicted as having an overt interest in porn and occultism. Marion was called Mary in the book and had a minor role.
- Anthony Perkins would reprise the role for three sequels that came out in 1983, 1986 and 1990 respectively - the last one being two years prior to Perkins death.
- Remake wise, we got one of this movie in 1998. One word: avoid.
- Apparently this was the first movie in which people got to see a toilet being flushed.

There's a reason why even fifty plus years on that Psycho is a classic piece of American cinema. Now whether or not it's Hitchcock's best movie, I don't know but it's definitely a movie that has stood the test the time and influenced a lot of modern horror nowadays. Oh and if you want to see a further worthwhile connection to it, check out Bates Motel.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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