Joseph Stefano (screenplay) Robert Bloch (novel)
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Janet Leigh as Marion Crane
Vera Miles as Lila Crane
John Gavin as Sam Loomis
Martin Balsam as Milton Arbogast
By The Zombie Master, Lee Roberts
There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.
Psycho, his emergence into the horror genre, proved Hitchcock to be the master of the anticipation. He was a perfectionist that had every aspect, from camera angle to scream placement, plotted out before filming. He understood the power of the camera and used it like a painter uses his brush to create a masterpiece. I have lost count how many times I have watched Psychoand it has yet to get stale or dated.
Psycho starts by introducing us to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). She is a woman in love with a man in debt. Seeing an opportunity to erase that debt and hence grabbing a husband in the process, Marion steals $40,000 from a gentleman at her place of business and makes a run for it.
After hours of driving through heavy rain, she decides to stop at a little motel to get a nights rest. Here she meets a shy young man by the name of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Norman is very obviously controlled by his mother and defends her to Marion during conversation.
Marion then returns to her room and probably the most famous sceneevery put on film occurs. A mysterious woman comes into the room while Marion is taking a shower and proceeds to stab her like a casaba melon(which by the way is what they used to get that stabbing sound). Norman comes in later to clean up the room and dispose of the evidence of his mother’s jealous anger.
Three people now converge on the Bates Motel looking for Marion; Sam Loomis (John Gavin) the in-debt boyfriend, Lila Crane (Vera Miles) Marion’s sister, and Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam) a private detective hired by the owner of the $40,000. They soon find themselves on a ride through a nightmare of someone else’s creation while trying to make sense out of their surroundings and discover what happened to Marion Crane.
Psycho is one of the most influential horror films in history. For the first time in cinema, the monster was a next door neighbor, a person you worked with, the guy behind the counter, not a vampire or werewolf or otherunbelievable figment of someone’s imagination. No one had ever seen this kind of brutality before in a movie theater.
Credit for Psycho’s brilliance must also be given to three other people; Bernard Herrmann’s perfectly crafted score, Joseph Stefano’s flawless script taken from Robert Bloch’s novel, and Anthony Perkins’ masterful portrayal of Norman Bates. All of which gave Psycho it’s elevation to perfection.
Psycho belongs on the classic shelf of not just the horror movie fan, but any fan of great film making.
Note: The Gus Van Sant remake in 1998 was so inferior that after viewing it the only question that came to mind was“why?” Do yourself a favor and skip it.