Psycho (1960)

Description[from Freebase]

Psycho is a 1960 American suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh. The screenplay by Joseph Stefano is based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was loosely inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who lived just 40 miles from Bloch. The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Leigh), who goes to a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer, and the motel's disturbed owner and manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter. Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock's best films and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics. It is often ranked among the greatest films of all time and is famous for bringing in a new level of acceptable violence and sexuality in films.

Review

Thou shalt not take the term ‘genre-defining’ in vain. How many movies, after all, really define a genre? That is, besides Psycho?

Alfred Hitchcock’s first real horror movie not only set off a raging controversy and alarming threats of censorship, but it also ruined the morning shower for a generation of Americans. The shower scene, now one of the most famous and replayed moments in movie history, was just the knife’s edge of this masterpiece of fear-dredging, Freudian obsession, and sadistic humor.

Although Psycho has inspired and influenced several decades of movie killers murdering pretty young objects, not that many people actually die at the Bates Motel. But oh how artfully they bite the dust.

The primary target of Psycho‘s lust and slaughter is Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), an embezzler from Phoenix driving west to reunite with her paramour in California. A storm forces Marion into a late-night check-in into the remote Bates Motel, where manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) offers up ’12 cabins, 12 vacancies.’

Bates’ timidity and gentleness to Crane belies a noisy and abusive relationship with his mother, a toxic shut-in who taunts him from their creepy Victorian house uphill from the motel. Mom’s not happy that her boy’s been talking to a pretty lady, so she fixes to do something about it. Meanwhile, a detective seeks Crane and her stolen cash, and unfortunately for him, he’s looking in the right place.

Yes, the twisty ending may seem predictable to seen-it-all modern audiences, but Psycho still delivers a rope-a-dope of chills that has inspired two generations of horror filmmakers.

Portions from Freebase, licensed under CC-BY and Wikipedia licensed under the GFDL