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Psycho (Universal Home Entertainment's 2-disc Legacy Series Special Edition DVD)

A movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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Sometimes a vacancy sign should be ignored

  • May 18, 2000
  • by
Pros: combining these releases, hard to pick - but the story line remains great

Cons: lost a little with the retelling of the tale :(

THAT WAS THEN 1960 .... The blood curling scream, the knife, the sound of water swirling down the drain, a shot to the drain, water and blood combined .... always the gurgling of the water slowly, slowly leaving the tub. One beautiful eye, staring into nothingness. Hauntingly eerie in stark black and white .....

THIS IS NOW 1998 ..... The scream still a terrifying sound, the knife, the water creating its' own whirlpool, the drain shot, water and blood combined .... the sound of the water leaving the tub. One beautiful eye, staring into nothingness. Starkly poignant in color ....

What is the difference between the release of Psycho in 1960 and the re-release in 1998? In my humble epinion - color, Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins. No one should watch the release in 1998 without having the pleasure of also viewing the original release.

At a time when horror is presumed, imagined, and devised through innuendo, the original story brought unbelievable reality to the common folk. Anne Heche, though I love her in this film, is too street smart and savvy to pull off the same role that Janet Leigh did in the original release. Vince Vaughn, creepy in his own right, is no Anthony Perkins. Perkins thrived in this role. He was quirky, haunted, maybe just a bit insane. Vaughn was an actor portraying a part. The difference? Hitchcock! No doubt about it, he was a master in his field.

And the color - some movies should remain the same. Some cannot be improved with color, some can. Granted, color added a little panache to the film, but a film of this magnitude should be viewed in the stark reality of black and white. It adds even more desolation to the premise and the idea of the movie, the disparity of the Bates Motel, the devastation of Norman and his interaction with his ‘mother'. Similar to In Cold Blood , this movie viewed in black and white gives you a desperate need to end the film and leave the hotel.

Janet Leigh, in the original version, seemed like the girl that had finally reached the limit of her life, someone that wanted to get out - move on - start over. She appears pathetic, wanting, needy - you want her to find a piece of happiness. Heche, on the other hand, seems a little too perky, she's too cute and clean, a little happier than Leigh. You don't feel as sorry for her and her circumstances. Maybe it is the color? Maybe it is because life and circumstances have changed since the original viewing? We are a little more hardened now, we aren't as close to the edge as we were in 1960, we don't feel as close to other people as we used to.

Additionally, with the original release, we can kind of believe Norman was able to ‘restore' and keep his mother in the home - now, we don't believe these things are possible. People are a little more visible, nosier, more in your face. Privacy isn't what it used to be. Even in such an obscure location as the Bates Motel, people would be sticking their noses into your business. Momma couldn't have been hanging around as long as she did then.

The original release, at its' time, introduced us into a new genre of horror. Believable, happening to the girl next door. No monsters here folks - except two legged ones - no bodies arising from the dead, or shape changers, or people with chainsaws. Just the guy in the little motel down the road, quietly going insane for years. This guy could be living next door to you right now, he could be working with you, riding next to you on the subway. This monster was possible, therefore, the scariest kind. Leave it to Hitchcock to tease and tantalize with embedded ideas and innuendos. He makes our mind compose and devise the monster, feed him, water him and watch him grow.

Unfortunately, with the re-release, as with my all time favorite Titanic (ha!), we already know how the story goes. We already know when to clench up, hide our eyes, turn away from the screen. We already know who the bad guy is, who the good guy is and how it is all going to be resolved. With a movie of this caliber, this definitely takes the edge off the story, as the story is all in the suspense - and the element of suspense is gone now.

When released in 1960, the story was viewed with just a little horror - naked bodies? Janet Leigh exposing a breast? Unheard of! Making this even more of a demand on our mind. The current release with naked bodies and an exposed breast - Hell, you can watch that on the news. No tantalizing story line in that. Much controversy arose around the shower scene for Leigh. She searched for many ‘props' to cover her body to no avail, finally resorting to the ultimate - the naked body. Quite daring for that time and for her. In retrospect, it is nothing now for someone to appear naked for the scene.

Fortunately, they retained the spooky house on the hill, that neverending flight of steps leading to this house of horror, the depressing interior, the swamp and the ever present idea that horror sometimes has a smiling face.

Pleased with both releases, but the original is still my favorite! Stars: Norman Bates - Anthony Perkins/Vince Vaughn; Marion Crane - Janet Leigh/Anne Heche; Lila Crane - Vera Miles/Julianne Moore; Milton Arbogast - Martin Balsam/William Macy. I just didn't feel Vaughn was edgy enough for this part. Perkins - looks and actions - seemed one day away from the nut house in the original release.


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December 27, 2010
great breakdown on the movie! Thanks!
More Psycho reviews
review by . May 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Contained within "Psycho" are images that are haunting to this day, and also at the time, quite violent. Considered one of the "greats" for its genre, Alfred Hitchcock's horror/thriller "Psycho" is a film that I just had to see. I am passionate about this genre, and I thought that perhaps this film could inspire me, little-by-little, to create real, top-notch suspense. That is exactly what it did; and the film is brilliant. I'm not as familiar as I should …
review by . October 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Story of a Boy and His Mother
When “Psycho” was first released in 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock took great pains to ensure the plot would remain unspoiled. He wouldn’t allow stars Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh to promote the film. Critics were not granted pre-release screenings. The trailer, at a lengthy six and a half minutes, featured not a single shot of the actual finished film, nor did it showcase its actors; it featured Hitchcock himself guiding us on a tour of the sets, all the while hinting – …
review by . January 04, 2011
Nobody knows how to make horror films anymore, it truly is a lost art. Now I would hardly consider myself an expert on the subject, but gone are the days of monsters, Hitchcock, and classic serial killers like Myers, Freddy, and Jason. Now, there exists nothing but crappy sequels and movies that are more focused on blood and guts than actual psychological terror. But back in the days of Hitchcock, there existed this one film, which redefined the horror genre, despite the fact that I don't think …
review by . December 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Classic Hitchcock Tale And It's Sequels
To start off the review, let me quote from http://www.filmsite.org/psyc.html      Alfred Hitchcock's powerful, complex psychological thriller, Psycho (1960) is the "mother" of all modern horror suspense films - it single-handedly ushered in an era of inferior screen 'slashers' with blood-letting and graphic, shocking killings (e.g., Homicidal (1961), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween 1978, Motel Hell (1980), and DePalma's Dressed to …
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
  Psycho is a classic that you must see if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. If the ending hasn’t been ruined for you by someone’s big mouth, it will be sure to blow your mind.    This film was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. I expected Psycho to be mildly outdated and cheesy, but it wasn’t at all. I am the type of person that laughs at horror films to the point that they may as well be relabeled “comedy.” I have never been able …
Quick Tip by . May 27, 2010
Loved this movie-Norman Bates is truly an unforgettable character.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the ultimate horror films, just thinking of Norman Bates gives me the chills. Even in 2010 this film packs a chillfest.
Quick Tip by . November 02, 2009
Psycho is a shocker and will remain so. Hitchcock took a chance when he killed off his leading lady at the beginning of the film!
review by . May 08, 2009
Psycho (1960) is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. The movie is loosely based upon the novel by Robert Bloch and it was adapted by Joseph Stefano. Psycho made stars out of Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins (sadly it also sent the two to typecasting hell in the process). Hitchcock proved that he could adapt to the changing styles of Hollywood and make a true horror classic. He wisely shot the movie in black and white (giving the film an even creepier aura)and used a lot of great camera angles and …
review by . February 25, 2005
Pros: An American Movie Classic; frightening; interesting; great story     Cons: Probably not interesting to those who don't like "old" films     The Bottom Line: This movie is a classic. If you've never seen Psycho, you really should.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Before taking my Hitchcock class at The University of Alaska - Anchorage, the only Hitchcock film I had seen was The Birds. To …
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About this movie


Psycho The movie poster for Psycho features a large image of a young woman in white underwear. The names of the main actors are featured down the right side of the poster. Smaller images of Anthony Perkins and John Gavin are above the words, written in large print, "Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho".
Theatrical release poster Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Produced by Alfred Hitchcock Written by Joseph Stefano Starring Anthony Perkins
Vera Miles
John Gavin
Janet Leigh Music by Bernard Herrmann Cinematography John L. Russell Editing by George Tomasini Studio Shamley Productions Distributed by 1960–1968:
Paramount Pictures
Universal Pictures Release date(s) June 16, 1960 (1960-06-16) Running time 108 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $806,947 Gross revenue $32 million Followed by Psycho II

Psycho is a 1960 American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.[1]

The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after embezzling from her employer, and the motel's owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter.[2]

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[3] and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics.[4] The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and an unsuccessful television spin-off.

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Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genre: Classics, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: June 16, 1960
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch
Runtime: 2hrs 0min
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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