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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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The Story of a Boy and His Mother

  • Oct 22, 2010
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 – but stopping short of revealing – the horrible events that took place: “Of course the victim, or should I say victims,” he said, “hadn’t any conception as to the type of people they would be confronted with in this house. Especially the woman. She was the weirdest and the most ... well, let’s go into her bedroom.” Most controversially, he decreed that theater admittance be denied to latecomers; either you saw the movie from the beginning, or you didn’t see it at all.
This was a bold move, and it wasn’t supported by theater owners. Business, they argued, would be lost. Hitchcock argued that, if the owners had their way, audiences would be equally lost; they would enter thirty minutes late, only to discover that the much advertised appearance of Janet Leigh wasn’t there to be seen. Hitchcock understood that audiences don’t like to feel cheated. But there’s obviously more to it than that. His carefully controlled marketing campaign was a lot like the film itself: It continuously built suspense, and in turn drew in audiences eager to know what was being kept hidden. Exactly what dire events took place in that quiet little motel off the main highway? Who lived in that house on the hill behind the motel? And who was this weird woman to which Hitchcock referred?
It’s now fifty years later, and most of the film’s secrets are very well known. Am I really spoiling anything, for example, when I say that Janet Leigh’s character, Marion Crane, is stabbed to death as she’s taking a shower? Were it not for that scene’s enduring appeal, her death could have remained a secret to this day. Alas, the shower scene has become one of the most famous, most studied, and most recreated of all scenes in film history. And for good reason – it’s a masterpiece of editing, sound effects, cinematography, and music. It’s also ingenious in the way it artfully depicts brutal violence; screams, slicing noises, the strategic placement of various cameras, the body gestures of a shadowy figure, and the sight of blood all make it abundantly clear that Marion is being stabbed, but we never actually see the knife piercing her flesh. Nor do we see any gratuitous nudity. It’s not about senseless exploitation – it’s about vulnerability.
Paradoxically, Hitchcock intentionally aimed for an exploitive look, due in large part to the film’s relatively low budget of just over $800,000. He relied not on an established Hollywood production staff, but rather on his “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” television crew, resulting in a more primitive feel to the sets, the lighting, and the camerawork. He shot the film on cheaper black and white film stock and utilized less theatrical 50 mm lenses for his 35 mm cameras. Composer Bernard Hermann, faced with a reduced budget, could only afford to write for a string orchestra. This cost cutting measure is now considered one of the film’s greatest strengths, as it perfectly accentuates the primal psychological nature of the story. Nowhere is this more apparent than during the infamous shower scene, in which we’re aurally assaulted with piercing, staccato screeches.
Incidentally, this scene was a shocking turn of events for original audiences. Up until that moment, Hitchcock led everyone to believe that Marion was the main character, that the film was telling her story. Why else would we see that she embezzles $40,000 from her boss in an effort to start a new life with her lover? Why else would the lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), be established as a divorced man drowning in a sea of alimony payments? But then we’re introduced to Norman Bates (Perkins), a lonely, reclusive young man who owns the failing motel Marion was killed in. He lives with his mother. She’s a domineering old woman who’s never seen but whose angry voice booms from the house on the hill as a warning to the young harlots she believes are out to steal her son away.
From this, we learn that the film is, in fact, the story of Norman Bates. Or, more accurately, the story of a boy and his mother. She too has a secret. Everyone does. And isn’t that what makes this movie so timelessly frightening? We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. We don’t know what others are thinking, even if we happen to be standing right next to them. “Psycho,” adapted from the novel by Robert Bloch, seems to be teaching us that we should live in fear, for appearances can be deceiving, sometimes fatally so. Indeed, there is good reason to be afraid, not just of taking a shower in a strange place, but also of the police, of rash decisions we’re capable of making, of rash decisions we don’t realize we’re making – and of our mothers. “Psycho” plays off of very real, very relatable fears, a distinction that not even a thousand teen slasher films could ever earn.
The Story of a Boy and His Mother The Story of a Boy and His Mother The Story of a Boy and His Mother The Story of a Boy and His Mother

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December 28, 2010
Great review!! The collector's edition is one I must see.
December 27, 2010
Featured this review!
October 23, 2010
This is a classic for sure
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 . 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 …
review by . July 16, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Even after more than 40 years, and even after having seen it so many times, I am still caught up in the tension which director Hitchcock develops so carefully. I am still shocked by the famous (infamous?) shower scene and by later moments in the Bates residence. It is thus a tribute to Hitchcock, his cast, and crew that this breakthrough retains its shock value after so many years. Hitchcock requires his audience to be especially alert to seemingly insignificant details as well as to playful insertions. …
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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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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