It is amazing when I reflect back on the beginning days of
the House of Horrors and think of the limited range of films that I
originally intended to cover (Thank GOD, Scream was never on that
list!!!!). In fact, I find it quite humorous. Luckily, through the many
hours of research, viewing, and hundreds of corresponds with all the great
horror fans around the world, my love and appreciation of the genre has
continued to grow. One of the film that I initially overlooked was Alfred
Hitchcock's Psycho. What was I thinking?? Psycho is and always will be one
of the most influential horror films in history. Without it, where would
we be today?? The following are the key elements of this gothic
First and foremost, the magic of Psycho lies with Hitchcock.
Psycho marked his first foray into the genre. Without a doubt, it is my
favorite of his film. I have also been a fan of The Birds and Rear Window.
Upon beginning to work on this page, I have dedicated myself to watching
more of his films and have even decided (with the help of my fans' emails)
to add his to
The Master's Chamber. Hitchcock's
brilliance can be found in his overall perfectionist approach. He plotted
out every camera angle, every scene, and every scream. Many actors and
actresses that worked with Hitchcock have said that in his filmmaking,
"the camera is absolute". He used it to guide the story, build the
tension, and throw twists into the ending. He was to his time (and is still
today) what Lucas and Spielberg are to contemporary filmmaking....a
masterful storyteller. (**There has been much debated
about Saul Bass' claims that he in fact directed portions of Psycho, included the now famous "shower
scene" and from all the interviews and accounts that I have read
this is pure hogwash. Just by looking at his directorial accomplishments
since, you can tell that Saul Bass didn't have the talent to direct a 4th
grade Christmas show, let alone one of the greatest horror films of all
Secondly, Bernard Herrmann's score. Just as Hitchcock's camera
helped to guides us on this journey, Herrmann score was the knife that brought Psycho
home. In my opinion, not only is it one, if not the greatest, score to ever grace a horror
film, but probably one of the greatest soundtracks of all-time.
Thirdly, the shower scene. Even for those that don't know Psycho,
there is no doubt in my mind that they are still familiar with this scene. This scene set
the standard and has be duplicated rather badly in many horror films. Hitchcock used 70
different camera angles intermixed with quick cuts to emphasize the brutality of the act,
yet the knife is never seen penetrating the victim. It's effectiveness is in what is
perceived to happen and not what is shown on the screen. The scene is further enhanced by
Herrmann's score and it's hard to believe that Hitchcock ever considered filming it just
with the sound of the action. Pure cinematic magic.
Fourth, the ending. As not to provide a spoiler, all I can say is
that much in the same way that the "shower scene" is engrained on our soul, so
is the ending of Psycho. It brings a shocking ending to a roller coaster of a movie.
Again, pure cinematic magic.
Finally, the scripting. Joseph Stefano masterfully
scripted from Robert Bloch's novel. He was giving a lot freedom by Hitchcock and through
his characterizations he laid the foundation for a classic chiller. Stefano, a young
screenwriter at the time, showed the mature of a veteran as he leads the audience
down a path where we actually began to feel sorry for Norman, even considering him a
victim of his environment, and finally shocking us with the ultimate conclusion of his
madness. By far one of the tightest and well-crafted story to ever be film.
All these factors, as well as, outstanding
performances by Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and Martin
Balsam, lead to some outstanding cinematic moments. A definite classic film for the
genre and one along with
Night of the Living Dead,
Texas Chainsaw Massacre,
that is directly responsible for the horror landscape of today (and no I don't mean that
teeny bopper shit either). As always
e-mail me if you have
anything you can add to this page, or if you have any comments, criticisms
Marion Crane (Janet
Leigh), a women in love, searching for a way to free her boyfriend
from the shackles of debt and secure herself a husband. When a over
zealous and rather rich oilman teases her with $40,000, Marion sees her
future flash before her eyes. Off she goes with money in hand to
begin her new life not knowing the terror that awaits her.
After many hours of driving in a heavy rain, Marion decides
that she needs a good night sleep before surprising her boyfriend (John
Glavin) the next day. Along the way, she happens upon a quaint little
motel...the Bates Motel. There she meets a rather shy young man (Norman) who
is controlled by a domineering mother. As the two chat, Norman defends his
mother and her sickness. The next scene went onto make cinema history as
Marion is brutally murdered while showering by a mysterious women. A
mortified Norman quickly cleans up and disposes of the remains of his
But where there is sparks, there's fire. It seems that both
Marion's sister, Lila (Vera Miles) and a private detective, Milton Arbogast
(Martin Balsam), think she is heading to Sam's place. As the three converge
(Lila, Sam, & Milton), the investigation leads to Marion's last known
whereabouts...the Bates Motel. But it seems that Mrs. Bates isn't going to
let anyone get in the way of her and Norman's life and she will stop at
nothing to keep their little secret....secret. Just as with the "shower
scene", Psycho's ending has forever engrained itself on the psyche of
every moviegoer. This is a must see for every fan!!! Hitchcock at his best.
Robert Bloch got $9500 for the rights to his book "Psycho".
Hitchcock would later buy up as many copies of the novel before the film came out so
people would know as little as possible about the storyline.
Janet Leigh received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting
Actress and won the Golden Globe for her role in Psycho.
Considered for the role of Marion were: Eva Marie
Saint, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, and Lana
Hitchcock received an Oscar nomination for Best
Director only to lose out to Billy Wilder's The Apartment. Hitchcock
never won an Oscar although he was nominated 6 times.
The film only cost $800,000 to make yet has earned more than $40
The "shower scene" took over 7 days to shoot and
involved 70 camera setups for the 45 second scene. Anthony Perkins wasn't even on the set
for the shooting, but rather was back in New York preparing for a play.
Hitchcock originally envisioned the shower sequence as
completely silent, but Bernard Herrmann went ahead and scored it. Lucky Hitchcock had a
change of heart and the rest is motion picture history.
Hitchcock insisted that "no one"
be admitted into the theater after the film started. This proved to be a marketing coup,
as the audiences numbers continued to stay steady the longer the film played. Also, since
Janet Leigh was billed as the star, they didn't want the word to get out that she was
killed in the first half of the film.
Hitchcock waived his standard $250,000 directorial fee for a 60%
share of the films grosses.
Norman Bates character was based on 50's serial
Psycho marked the first time a "toilet" was ever shown
and flushed in a film.
After the film's release Hitchcock received an angry
letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath after seeing
Diaboliques, Les (1954) and now refused to shower after seeing Psycho.
Hitchcock sent a note back simply saying "Send her to the dry
Hitchcock, who made it a tradition to make a cameo in all his
films, can be see 4 minutes into the film outside of Marion's workplace.
Hitchcock tested the "fear factor" of Mother's corpse
by placing it in Leigh's dressing room and listening to how loud she screamed when she
The sound that the knife makes penetrating the flesh is actually
the sound of a knife stabbing a casaba melon
Spawned three sequels and one remake. I liked
Part 2 a lot.
Visit the ultra cool
Hitchcock: The Master of
Suspense webpage. The ultimate Hitchcock resource on the net.
Right In! webpage. Another great page on this classic film.
Click on box cover for these recommendations
Click on image to navigate our other
The Alfred Hitchcock Page is under construction!!!
Buy the collector's edition of Alfred
Hitchcock's "Psycho" on DVD at
Buy "Psycho II" on DVD at
Buy "Psycho III" on DVD at
Buy "The Birds" on DVD at
Buy Robert Bloch's novel on which the film
is based on at
Buy "Deviant : The Shocking True Story of the Original 'Psycho'",
a book about
Ed Gein at
Buy "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho"
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of Horrors t-shirt for sale now