- This review pertains to the Psycho: Special Edition DVD-
WARNING: This review may contain spoilers!
Perhaps the greatest thriller of them all was released in June of 1960. Psycho, which was directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Hitchcock shot the film in exhilarating black and white, but he only did so because he wanted to make a horror film on a small budget. Using much of his crew from his television series, Hitchcock was able to hire competent and highly skilled people without having to spend a fortune. He re-teamed with Bernard Herrmann, the brilliant composer, who had done the scores on many of Hitchcock's films. This score, in particular, became so iconic, so famous that it's impossible to separate the music from the movie. Utilizing an all-strings orchestra, Bernard Herrmann's score heightened the suspense so much that many scenes of the film were unbearably tense for audiences at the time. But that was Hitchcock's goal, to unnerve audiences to the best of his ability. Aiding Hitchcock with this fiendish task was ingenious graphic designer Saul Bass, who not only created the opening title sequence but also played an integral part in the planning of the notorious "shower scene".
The film's screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano and was loosely based upon the novel by Robert Bloch. However, the film's screenplay is far superior to the novel, which is not only contrived but also shallow and manipulative.
Starring a superb cast headed by Janet Leigh as Marion Crane and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the film also featured Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Pat Hitchcock (Alfred's daughter). Perkins' performance as Bates is electrifying in its intensity and Leigh is wonderful as the desperate Marion Crane.
Anyone who's ever seen Psycho will find it damn-near impossible to forget the level of tension that's created by the combined talents of the director, cast, and crew. Upon its release Psycho was a huge hit, in part because of Alfred Hitchcock's clever marketing gimmicks. He specifically told theatre managers not to allow audience members into the movie theatres once the film had begun and he insisted that audiences didn't reveal the plot twists of the film. By doing this Hitchcock intentionally created a media buzz about Psycho, which only brought audiences to theatres in droves. Although given mixed reviews by critics, Psycho was received very well by filmgoers who had never seen anything quite like it. Not only has Psycho become Hitchcock's most commercially successful film, it also ushered in the age of the modern thriller.
The story follows Marion Crane, a financially struggling secretary at a real estate firm, who steals $40,000 in cash in order to marry the man she's having an affair with. As Marion leaves town, her guilt and her paranoia take a tremendous toll on her nerves. She begins to act suspiciously and attracts the attention of a police officer and a used car salesman, but she continues her travels troubled by her conscience. She imagines the reactions of her boss, the firm's clients, her relatives, the police officer, and the car salesman. During an intense rainstorm she decides to top at a small motel. The Bates Motel seems pleasant enough. The manager, Norman bates, seems like a decent fellow, though he has an odd relationship with his demanding mother. He and Marion have a discussion about the trials and tribulations of life and the feeling of being trapped by your position in society. Norman's humility and honesty are disarming, and Marion is weighed down by the burden of her guilty conscience. She decides to return the stolen money and then takes a shower to cleanse herself, symbolically, of her sins. But then the silhouette of an old woman with a butcher's knife appears through the shower curtain. Marion is brutally murdered, and dutiful son Norman is forced to dispose of her body and her car. After Marion's bizarre disappearance her lover, Sam and her sister, Lila along with a private investigator named Arbogast, begin a search for her. But are they prepared for what they'll discover at... the Bates Motel?
This psychotically good DVD includes an audio commentary with film historian and Hitchcock expert Stephen Rebello, "The Making of Psycho" feature-length documentary, "In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy" documentary, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Lamb to the Slaughter" episode, Alfred Hitchcock / Francois Truffaut interview, "Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho", "The Shower Scene: With and Without Music", "The Shower Sequence: Storyboards by Saul Bass", The Psycho Archives image gallery, Posters and Psycho Ads image gallery, Lobby Cards image gallery, Behind the Scenes image gallery, Production Photographs image gallery, production notes, and trailers.
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Dec 16, 2008
Jun 7, 2012 07:25 PM UTC
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One of the most shocking films of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, is now available as a new 2-Disc Special Edition! Join the Master of Suspense on a chilling journey as an unsuspecting victim (Janet Leigh) visits the Bates Motel and falls prey to one of cinema’s most notorious psychopaths – Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).
Named #1 on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, this notorious film has become a cultural phenomenon. Featuring one of the most iconic scenes in film history - the famous “shower scene” – plus new bonus features and digitally remastered picture, Psycho is “still terrifying after all these years” (Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide).
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Run Time: 1 Hours and 49 Minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Feature Commentary with Stephen Rebello (author of "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho")