My Favorite Movies – Psycho (1960)

13 Oct

By Tanner Smith

You know how for many horror movies, people don’t like to give away the endings? Well, for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” I don’t have to! For one thing, you’d have a hard time trying to find anyone who doesn’t know the twists by now, thanks to its sequels, references to it in other films like “Scream,” and especially the “Bates Motel” TV series.

And also, there’s hardly any room for me to analyze when there’s a scene at the end that does it all for me!

And yeah, it is debatable that the expository scene with the psychiatrist was needed, even back when it was released in 1960…I don’t let it ruin the experience for me. As with other thrillers like “The Sixth Sense,” coming back to “Psycho” with what I already know makes it more interesting to wonder what characters are thinking in certain scenes and what other silent moments might actually mean. Norman Bates, played brilliantly by Anthony Perkins, is such an interesting albeit horrifying character that he is what makes the film worth revisiting if everything else about the film failed.

I love “Psycho.” I love the suspense, I love the set design, and more importantly, I love the story structure, as it follows one character we assume is the main character until she turns out to become the reason for the rest of the story to take place and other elements pop up to make it more inventive…it’s terrific!

I also love the story about the making of “Psycho,” chronicled in the book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” (which was also adapted into an entertaining film adaptation simply titled “Hitchcock,” starring Anthony Hopkins as the man himself). Hitchcock wanted to feel the way he used to feel when he first started making films, and he read the “Psycho” book and decided he wanted to make it, despite nobody giving him money to do so. (The studio agreed to distribute the film, but Hitchcock had to put up the film’s budget himself.) So many people were telling him this film shouldn’t be made because there were so many things that weren’t done in film before. Just because it HASN’T been done doesn’t mean it CAN’T be done–that’s the basis for all the stories we hear about artists pushing the envelope.

And Hitchcock made the film’s trailer, in which he walks around the film sets and tells the audience about the things that happen in the story–in fact, he gives away most of the scares! He can’t bring himself to explain the more violent material in the film, and so he’s vague about all the details he’s trying to inform the audience about. I get the feeling that because of his droll interpretation of his horror story, people had to go see the movie just to understand what the hell he’s even talking about!

My favorite scene: the sandwich-dinner scene between Norman and Marion is especially gripping when you already know the fates of both characters.

“Psycho” is a film that can scare/entertain/provoke thought to people and influence/inspire filmmakers (like M. Night Shyamalan, who took a lot of inspiration from Hitchcock movies like “Psycho” and “The Birds”). And there can only be one–“Psycho II” was fine, but there can only be ONE Psycho. And no one, not even Vince Vaughn and director Gus Van Sant, can try to change our minds. (Also, “Bates Motel” is more its own thing, despite having characters from “Psycho.” And it’s a pretty solid series.)

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