Film Review: Psycho (1960)

SYNOPSIS:

When larcenous real estate clerk Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) goes on the lam with a wad of cash and hopes of starting a new life, she ends up at the notorious Bates Motel, where twitchy manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cares for his housebound mother. The place seems quirky but fine … until Marion decides to take a shower. Director Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar-nominated shocker has been terrifying viewers for decades — and for good reason.

REVIEW:

“No One … BUT NO ONE … Will Be Admitted To The Theatre After The Start Of Each Performance Of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho”

Marion Crane is in love with Sam Loomis, her boyfriend, and wants to get married but they need money. She works at a real estate office in Arizona and one day a wealthy man pays cash for a house and Marion is to deposit the cash at the bank. After a lot of thought, she decides to steal the money and flee to Fairvale to be with Sam. On a particularly stormy night, Marion pulls over at the vacan’t Bates Motel, where she meets Norman Bates, a troubled young man, who is obsessed with his mother.

First off, this is a perfect classic! It is very loosely based on the novel by Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel, Psycho — about the serial killer, Ed Gein. Hitchcock is great, even at low-budget. Anthony Perkins, as Norman Bates, just CANNOT be beat or reproduced! Perfect, every movement and nuance, every word, perfect! I don’t care about Hitchcock’s great direction here because without Perkins, this movie would be an exponentially-less of a film without him. Janet Leigh, as Marion Crane, is great as well. Not only is she sexy and beautiful but, her acting’s great. Her smirk, while driving her car and hearing voices, looks uncannily like Perkins’ smile in the ending shots. It reminds me of Jack Nicholson’s insane smile in the car on the way up to the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining”. Martin Balsam, as Det. Milton Arbogast, is very good as well, the perfect detective actor. The name Arbogast is used in other detective roles by other actors; it just sounds very “detectivey.”

The plot starts out slow for the first third of the movie but it’s a necessary buildup to get us to Norman Bates. Once there, it’s almost all Anthony Perkins, who steals the show. The plot isn’t difficult to follow so don’t worry lovers of simple plots, be happy, rejoice! It’s not often you get great results with this simple a story. There’s no flash, few special effects, so it relies on direction and characterization. Oh, one truly exciting first is that Psycho shows, on camera, the first toilet ever seen on video – and it flushes as well!! I know — it took my breath away too!

There are great and inventive shots in this movie. Some are there just to cover up the gore and nudity to get it up (no ideas guys!!) to the strict standards of the movie industry of the day. Rob Zombie would have a heart attack if he had to follows these standards! There are also some cool shots besides that. One such shot is when one of Norman’s victims falls backwards down the stairs, very inventive.

Oh, one of the best features of this movie, besides Perkins, is the soundtrack. Everyone immediately recognizes that shrill, ear-piercing, screeching sound as being synonymous with shower scenes, as much as the Jaws theme is to the ocean. A few simple notes and BAM! — instant classic which will forever be remembered. But this isn’t even the theme. The theme is memorable as well by many horror fans but, not as well as the shower scene. Overall, the soundtrack makes this film several times better than without. It’s crucial to the drama and buildup of tension which is important to the terror of Norman Bates and the fleeing of Leigh’s character.

The atmosphere is almost all conveyed by Perkins and the music.

This is a 100% guaranteed must-see for horror, Hitchcock, Perkins, Leigh, and drama fans! No buts about it. 5/5 My only issue is that it’s not very close to true story of Ed Gein but it bares some resemblance to him with the woman’s clothes and his mother’s chastisement of her son about girls. Beyond that, it bares little resemblance to Gein. Now part 4, totally messes up the Gein story with the mother/son screwed up relationship. 5/5

Quotes:
Norman Bates: Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!
Norman Bates: Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, “Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…”

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