Retro Review: Psycho (1960)

Yeah, we have come full circle now, we have done a Retro Review on Psycho IV and a Double Feature Friday on Psycho II and III.  But those would not be around if not for the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho.

Psycho, is a great movie, never mind that it is a Hitchcock film.  I am going to be completely honest, growing up, I never understood why this was always regarded as one of the top horror films of all-time.  I watched it a few years ago and from beginning to the end.  I really paid attention to the film and realized it’s brilliance.  Watching it now, being more mature, it really is full of suspense.  Not only the story, but Hitchcock’s way to tell his story through the camera.  I use the term “ahead of its time” a lot.  But in this case it is 100% true.  So many scenes and they way they were shot, for 1960 or even 2016 seem to be a difficult.  The scene when Norman kills Detective Arbogast and he falls down the stairs, was amazing.

4349The movie starts with Janet Leigh and you feel the entire film will follow her and she is this movie’s “final girl”.  But she isn’t, I am speaking for first time viewers of course.  Most know by now, her death scene is very…iconic and has been duplicated in other films, but mostly for comical purposes.

A couple of things to take away from this film, things that make it so great.  The soundtrack, the score is brilliant and effective at the same time.  Bernard Hermann  really did a great job and the theme from the film is iconic.  Oddly enough, if you watch the film, The Re-Animator, it is the Psycho theme, but kind of different and fun.

The shower scene, as I mentioned is also very iconic, when you mention Psycho to anyone the first thing they mention is the shower scene.  It really speaks for itself.  The setting, a small motel in the middle of nowhere with one of the creepiest houses ever constructed, perched up on the hill watching over the Bates motel.  Honestly, anyone who approached this house had to think twice about knocking or in some cases just walking in.  It also takes place in the middle of nowhere.

My favorite parts of the film are pretty much at or near the end, when Vera Miles finds Mrs. Bates dead body…or remains, in the basement.  Then Norman runs in wearing a dress, a wig and holds the knife over his head, but he is stopped short by Sam Loomis, not Dr. Sam Loomis from Halloween, no.  At the very end of the film we see Norman at the police station in an office with no one in the room.  We hear one of the investigators gives this stirring explanation of what is going on in Norman’s head.  Then we hear Norman, his mind being dominated by the Mother persona.  She says that she will prove to the authorities that she is harmless by refusing to swat a fly on Norman’s hand.  He then forms a creepy smile… The film closes with you feeling completely creeped out and kind of dirty.  Well that is how it ended for me.

psycho

Psycho is a great film and deserves its spot at number 10 on my all-time list and I expect it to make an appearance on the Horror Syndicate’s Top 100 this fall.  It did not make the list for years, but I think I was young and I think the stain of the remake had some kind of bizarre hold on me, not in a good way.

Psycho has spawned three sequels and a nearly frame per frame remake, not to mention a popular TV show, the Bates Motel.  I enjoyed all three of its sequels, Psycho IV: The Beginning probably being my favorite of the three.  As you can read in Mike’s Retro Review, Psycho IV is a prequel/sequel deals with the origin of Norman with his mother and works as a good finale to the series.  It has a low rating, but I really think it is a good part of the series.  The other two films, are not bad, I recommend them to be viewed together, they take place one right after another.  The remake is awful, Vince Vaughn plays Norman and is creepy, but it is a remake that did not need to be made.  I do not want to see another remake or sequel.  I have not watched Bates Motel, but I need to, I have heard nothing but good things.

I love Psycho and it is one of the Top 10 Horror Films of all-time, but like Jaws or Alien, I think Psycho is so much more than horror.  Psycho transcends the horror genre. I also expect Psycho to be put into the Horror Syndicate’s Horror Hall of Fame.

IMDB.com has a rating of 8.5 for Psycho, I rate it 9.0, it is a very good movie.

About Ray Marek III 331 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)