Psycho (1960)
Rating -

Horror (US); 1998; Rated R; 109 Minutes

Cast
Anthony Perkins: Norman Bates
Vera Miles: Lila Crane
John Gavin: Sam Loomis
Martin Balsam: Milton Arbogast
John McIntire: Sheriff Champers

Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Screenwritten by Robert Bloch and Joseph Stefano

Review Uploaded
10/12/98

Written by DAVID KEYES

"A mother is a boy's best friend."
- Dialogue from "Pycho"

Can you ever think of a horror film that pushed so many boundaries at a time when horror was nearly nonexistent in the cinema? In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" was not only the first truly inspired horror film of modern cinema, but also the first to reveal moments and occurrences on screen that had never been attempted before in the previous years. The most famous scenes, one where Janet Leigh is butchered behind a shower curtain and the other where Norman Bates emerges dressed as his mother with a large knife in his hands, were also the most intense, violent, and inspired moments of film making at the time of its release.

Over 30 years later, the movie remains a benchmark for the genres of horror as we know them. It's creation prompted several sequels and spun off hundreds of imitations, clones, and, in a way, inspired several more eras of the horror that exists in the movies.

Oh, believe me, it did. Where do you think "Halloween" and "The Exorcist" got their inspirations to expand on the horizon of horrific possibilities? The greatest horror movies were the ones that tested our expectations and limits of cinema, often emerging with refreshing and unique approaches that, too, inspired the future of cinema.

It's a process that has existed for almost 40 years, and all of them, of course, must have been inspired by "Psycho." Why? Because it was the first, and next to "The Exorcist," it's also the best.

And the movie is completely original, even compared to the films of today. It's easy to make movies where the death toll rises, but it takes the passion and knowledge of a man like Hitchcock to add to these things. The story of Norman Bates has many twists and turns in the movie, and each twist and turn is important to understand the story at the same time to truly appreciate the most frightening scenes of the picture. You've undoubtedly seen the famous shower scene with Janet Leigh, but unless you've actually seen the movie, I find it doubtful that you appreciate the scene as much as us who saw the movie do.

Whether you believe it or not, things like this, as are the famous scenes of "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist," are more scary and more intense only when you know the situation. Seeing segments of a film like these only tarnishes our excitement for the more prolific and artistically provocative sequences that jumble our nerves in a movie. Unless you've seen "Psycho," I doubt you truly know how terrifying it is.

Like "The Exorcist," "Psycho" remains a force of raw power and mystique after all these years. It tests our stamina and reactions at the sheer darkness of the horrific elements in film and in life.

What you have just read is not a review to honor the film's anniversary. It is to honor a movie which, perhaps, might be ruined as Gus Van Sant currently remakes the movie, which will probably ruin the whole thing.

But at least the planned remake gives us a chance to look back on how great and how terrifying the original has remained.


1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
 
 
           
     
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