Psycho also broke all film conventions by displaying its leading female protagonist having a lunchtime affair in her sexy white undergarments in the first scene; also by photographing a toilet bowl - and flush - in a bathroom (a first in an American film), and killing off its major 'star' Janet Leigh a third of the way into the film (in a shocking, brilliantly-edited shower murder scene accompanied by screeching violins). The 90-odd shot shower scene was meticulously storyboarded by Saul Bass, but directed by Hitchcock himself. The nightmarish, disturbing film's themes of corruptibility, confused identities, voyeurism, human vulnerabilities and victimization, the deadly effects of money, Oedipal murder, and dark past histories are realistically revealed. Its themes were revealed through repeated uses of motifs, such as birds, eyes, hands, and mirrors.
The master of suspense skillfully manipulates and guides the audience into identifying with the main character, luckless victim Marion (a Phoenix real-estate secretary), and then with that character's murderer - a crazy and timid taxidermist named Norman (a brilliant typecasting performance by Anthony Perkins). Hitchcock's techniques voyeuristically implicate the audience with the universal, dark evil forces and secrets present in the film.
Like many of Hitchcock's films, Psycho is so very layered and complex that multiple viewings are necessary to capture all of its subtlety. Symbolic imagery involving stuffed birds and reflecting mirrors are ever-present. Although it's one of the most frightening films ever made, it has all the elements of very dark, black comedy. This film wasn't clearly understood by its critics when released. Hitchcock admitted that Henri-Georges Clouzot's influential thriller Les Diaboliques (1955, Fr.) inspired his film.
And boy, was this film ever so popular in it's dark, gruesome, but non-gory representation of a boy who was raised by a mother in an unorthadox way that effected his mind in a big time way. The film however, although it does show how nuts Norman Bates was because of his infamous mother that you never actually see during the film, does not depict HOW she raised him to the point of insanity. This is where the sequels come in, and what was really interesting to me because I am the sort who desires to know the "why" of how events happen.
Although the sequels explain more about his childhood, which surely makes you understand why he turns into a nut, the original was fascinating with Hitchcock's way of filming, directing and leaving questions unanswered which only leads to the fascination of the classic horror movie.
The film being done in black and white, as explained by Scotman in his review, was a cheaper way of filming, and Hitchcock was brilliant to do so. The ambiance of mystery you feel in this way of filming could never be captured in a full blown color version - just not possible. The shower scene, although not gross or gory, was terrifying nontheless just by the notion of what was actually happening along with the music and blood going down the drain. It did not terrify me as it did some people, but was equally mesmerizing because of what was missing; the gory details. You do not actually see her being stabbed, but just knowing it was happening was enough to stop your heart. Would it have had such an impact if not for the music and if it were gory? NO!! This is what makes this movie such a classic.
Anthony Perkin's performance could not have been better, and no other actor could have portrayed this part with such perfection - he was a simple enough looking character, with a laid back personality making the viewer completely unaware of what he was capable of; he was very unassuming in his role. If an actor that looked more creepy had played the part, it could have been a dead giveaway and the mystery behind his psyche would have been left to the viewer and may have spoiled the whole point behind his deadly love for his over-bearing mother.
PSYCHO II - 1983 - Directed by Richard Franklin
A sequel to one of the most popular horror films of all time, this psychological thriller received a pleasantly surprised, positive critical reception.Anthony Perkins returns as Norman Bates, who has just been released from an insane asylum after 22 years, having been judged clinically sane by the State of California over the objections of Lila Crane Loomis (Vera Miles), sister to one of Norman's murder victims. Norman returns home to the hotel and hilltop mansion he once inhabited with his mother. As a parole condition, Norman is hired at a local diner, where he struggles to join mainstream society, despite the stares of patrons aware of his past. At the diner, Norman befriends Mary (Meg Tilley), a waitress, and it seems that he may be putting some semblance of a life back together. But then Norman begins to experience hallucinatory encounters with his long-dead mother, including a handwritten note, a phone call, and a sighting of her standing at her favorite window. Is Norman's psychosis manifesting itself again, or are old enemies attempting to drive him back into an institution? As the pressure mounts, bodies pile up, and Norman's fragile hold on normality becomes more and more tenuous.
I was unsure how this sequel would be; afterall, the classic could not be beat, but I was surprised that this one was intriguing as well, although of course it did not have the same mystery and ambiance as Hitchcoock's original. He LOOKS sane, he ACTS sane, but Mom just won't go away!!
PSYCHO III - 1986 - Directed by Anthony Perkins
For his third outing as disturbed innkeeper Norman Bates, Anthony Perkins directed as well as starred in the thriller Psychoo III. This time out, Norman is still manning the desk at the Bates Motel, where he now has an assistant, Duane (Jeff Fahey), and a new long-term tenant, Maureen Coyle (Diana Scarwid). Maureen has been seeing Duane and has some issues to resolve in her life; she gave up her vows as a nun not long ago, and she isn't sure just how she feels about either spiritual or earthly matters. Norman takes an interest in Maureen, which may not be good for her long-term health -- after all, the last woman with the initials "M.C." who stayed in that room (and used the shower) met with a rather nasty fate.
Wow, Norman has fallen in love and he tries so hard -- but does he fail? What will his new love interest see in him? This was a pretty interesting sequel. Even though you realize by now he will probably never be normal, it is still intriguing enough to keep your interest.
PSYCHO IV; THE BEGINNING - 1990 - Directed By Mick Garris
This third sequel to Alfred Hitcock's classic thriller was originally made for cable television and looks into murderous Norman Bates' traumatic past in hopes of explaining his need to kill.
This was actually my favorite sequel; it explains Norman's childhood in gruesome explicit detail and almost makes you feel sorry for poor Norman. His mother, played by Olivia Hussey, is an attractive, obsessive and strange woman who lost her husband and wants only to be loved again...but by who? This sequel is filled with sexual inuendoes between mother and son (Norman the child is played by Henry Thomas), and completely abnormal and strange events that lead Norman down the path of a psychopathic murderer. When Mother gets a boyfriend, Norman becomes jealous, and is confused when he feels this strong emotion. He sees what goes on between Mother and boyfriend, yet Mother still needs her son's affection all the same. It's no damned wonder he grew up a lunatic! This sequel is a must see if you are interested in finding out the torrid details of his childhood.
FAMOUS QUOTES FROM THE ORIGINAL PSYCHO - NORMAN BATES
Gee, I'm sorry I didn't hear you in all this rain. Go ahead in, please.~
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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.
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.
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. The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and an unsuccessful television spin-off.