For the best of the Horror/Cult/Exploitation film experience
Psycho (1960) - 50th Anniversary Edition(Blu-ray)
There’s no doubt that fifty years after the release of “Psycho” the film has made an impression that’s been felt throughout the entire film industry making it one of the most important films ever made. There’s also no doubt that now director Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most revered and admired directors of all time because of the impact that not just “Psycho” has had, but most of his films have had great impact on films and filmmaking. Hitchcock is one of the greatest directors in the history of film and I have to say that it’s always made me happy when I hear him held in such high regard.
“Psycho” starts out by introducing us to Marion Crane a woman who in a fit of passion has just stolen $40,000 from her employer. She’s one the run looking for somewhere to go when she comes across the Bates Motel. Upon her arrival she seems to notice that something isn’t quite right about the place. See the motel itself is run by a young man named Norman, who seems to be quite intimidated by his mother who lives in the house behind the motel itself. Marion takes a liking to young Norman, but it isn’t meant to be as the Bates Motel means trouble for just about anyone who stays there.
There’s no doubt that “Psycho” is right up there with films like “Night of the Living Dead”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and “Peeping Tom” as films that took us into the modern horror era. To me that means these films started to take the terror away from monsters and put it in the hands of your average everyday person. At this point everyone was used to horror films being filled with all kinds of crazy monsters and creatures that threatened the human race. These films ushered in an era where the people around you were most likely more dangerous to you than any monster you’ve ever seen. It added a world of distrust and distorted human condition, probably bringing mental illness into the forefront more than film ever had up to that point. These films scared the hell out of the world because people were starting to wake up and realize the possibilities and capabilities of the scariest monster that there’s ever been....the human monster.
“Psycho” is a wonderful film for many reasons. First off the book it was based on and written by Robert Bloch is a downright creepy tale about a man and his obsession with his mother. It’s screenplay and direction by Hitchcock added new elements that weren’t there before. The novel itself is rather graphic in detail so a few things had to be toned down for the film. One example of this would be the iconic shower scene in the film. As far as the book says the woman in the shower is decapitated (I’m being vague here in case someone reading this has been under a rock the last 5 decades and has no idea what happens in the scene), which was never going to be shown in the film. But writer Joe Stefano and Hitchcock himself came up with some of their own ideas that were then put to good use on the set along with storyboard artist Saul Bass. They came up with something extremely terrifying that didn’t need the amount of bloodshed that the book called for.
The main reason I think that “Psycho” has become so iconic over the years is because of the performance in the film by Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the least intimidating guy you’ll ever see in a role like this, but that’s why I love it. There is just something about his portrayal of Norman as this almost timid man-child that is constantly under the direction of his mother regardless of the fact that he’s no longer a child. The performance is a great one and would be one that Perkins would handle more as the years went by, each time bringing something worthwhile to the table.
Obviously the genius of the movie is something that’s been talked about time and time again but it would be that Hitchcock had the idea of killing off his starlet to get the audience in an uncomfortable position. It worked like a charm and has been something over the years I’ve seen plenty of other directors use, even outside of the horror genre. I give Hitchcock credit too because I’m thinking that there were people working all around him to make sure that this didn’t happen, but I’m glad he decided to do it anyways.
The Blu-ray of “Psycho” has ensured that the movie has never looked better on any format. It looks impressive in HD and the sound quality was also noticeable to me too. There are also a ton of excellent special features that are worth checking out on here as well. There’s a full Making of Psycho feature that’s worth your time to watch and includes just about every living person you’d want to hear from. There also a feature about the sound on the film, a feature called “In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy”, Hitchcock/Truffaut interview excerpts, an interesting feature called “Newsreel Footage: The making of Psycho”, Shower Scene storyboards, posters, lobby cards, etc etc. The bottom line is that this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me and is the version of “Psycho” to own.
Rating - ****
Blu-ray Rating - ****