“Psycho” A film that shook the genre. By Gene Stevens Monsters After Midnight


Norman Bates kills his first victim in the movie “Psycho”

Norman Bates ….. A name that conjurs up the quintesential model of the modren day mentally shattered serial killer. Although the term serial killer wouldn’t be coined for another three decades, Director Alfred Hitchcock managed to translate the image of such a killer onto the silver screen on a shoe string budget and without the help of massive amounts of squirting red  blood. Hitchcocks use of a black and white format and the dark resesses of our minds scared the pants off of movie goers and set bar high for future horror movie producers.

The film was both scripted and shot very well. The use of black and white film allowed for the use of  dark and light shadows, blurred back grounds and moving shadow and light  The film is accented with slanted moving angles and camera techniques which used moving close up shots of both Norman Bates and his victims which places the viewer in a very personal position with the action.

The movies climaxes with the realization that Norman Bates has been under the influence of his evil mother who has already been dead for a number of years, (and was probably one of his first victims) though Norman manages to secretly retrieve her body before her burial and keeps her corpse in tact in the Bates motel mansion by the use of preservation methods.  As the house of cards begins to fall around Norman, he kills a Private Investigator (played by E.G. Marshall) and attempts to kill others.

If I were bold enough to reedit Hitchcock’s film, I would include only the doctor’s first explanation of Norman’s dual personality: “Norman Bates no longer exists. He only half existed to begin with. And now, the other half has taken over, probably for all time.” Then I would cut out everything else the psychiatrist says, and cut to the shots of Norman wrapped in the blanket while his mother’s voice speaks (“It’s sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son…”). Those edits, I submit, would have made “Psycho” very nearly perfect. I have never encountered a single convincing defense of the psychiatric blather; Truffaut tactfully avoids it in his famous interview.

What makes “Psycho” immortal, when so many films are already half-forgotten as we leave the theater, is that it connects directly with our fears: Our fears that we might impulsively commit a crime, our fears of the police, our fears of becoming the victim of a madman, and of course our fears of disappointing our mothers.

-Roger Ebert

Full descrption at IMDB



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