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Overall Rating
4.62

Awesome80.77%
Worth A Look: 9.89%
Average: 3.3%
Pretty Bad: 2.2%
Total Crap: 3.85%

4 reviews, 158 user ratings


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Psycho (1960)
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by Dr. Isaksson

"What are you a wacko?"
5 stars

In 1959, after finishing up on "North by Northwest", Alfred Hitchcock was looking for the story which would become his next film project. Suddenly, a strange novel of the macabre entitled "Psycho" written by Philip Bloch, and which had already been a success with the novel reading public, came to the great Director's attention. Hitch knew right off that this would be his next film. And with his trademark 'razor sharp efficiency' Hitchcock assembled the groundwork for what was to become one of the most shocking, dynamic and psychologically fascinating horror films. It was a stark, new approach to film making with a plot drenched in psychological terrors and a plot twist that was unheard of in it's time. "Psycho" was the perfect jolt needed to start off cinema in the 1960's.

The plot is relatively simple. At the start of Psycho we enter a Hotel Room in the city of Phoenix. A woman named Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is in the throws of a heated affair with her lover (John Gavin). She is hoping to find a way to run away with him but their finances are limiting such a hope. After this steamy lunchbreak rendezvous, Marion begrudgingly heads back to work as a secretary for a bank. It is here that Lady Luck plays a hand in her favor. A great deal of money is suddenly entrusted to her and instead of following through with her obligations at work, Marion decides to take on Lady Luck and flee town.

Then on a twist of fate that can only be considered as the epitome of Rotten Luck, Marion turns into the desolate parking lot of the Bates Motel to rest after a long day and night of driving. The area is vacant of human life except for the Motel's owner, Norman Bates. He is an uneasy young man who looks to be single and for the most part entirely alone except for his mother who he says is living as an invalid in the large antique house on the hill which overlooks the tiny motel. Norman prepares Marion's room, 'Room 1' and then offers to prepare dinner for her. She accepts and the two share a long discussion which fluctuates between her situation and his. Norman's talk of 'Mother' causes Marion to become even more uneasy than before but she decides to stick it out and stay the night at the Bates Motel. Maybe even get a shower in before catching a few hours sleep.

Here is where the film unexpectedly cuts in half.. Literally. It's a wonderful twist in the plot which arises from nowhere and sets the tone for the second half of the film. No longer are we (the viewer) allowed to follow the exploits of Marion. It is now Norman's turn to get our attention and his twisted life becomes just as engrossing as Marion's. A brave step on Alfred Hitchcock's part that could have misfired and ruined the film but he keeps the story so tight that it plays itself out in great typical Hitch style.

I'd have to say with all the surprises that Psycho has to offer, the biggest surprise is not the actual plot of the film but the performance of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Interestingly, Norman was supposed to be a fat, middle aged man who was balding. Basically an unattractive man on all accounts. But Hitchcock wanted someone who was more sympathetic. So he went with Perkins who gave us a much younger, thin, frail, skittish lonely type guy who posed less of a threat to the viewer. This version of Norman Bates comes off as someone who seemed to be just as much of a victim as the people who were dying around him. It was certainly an effective approach and it works well all credit due to the wonderful performance from Anthony Perkins. His acting is an dazzling combination of stone-like defiance and brittle uncertainty. When he speaks of his mother he is full of concern but that concern is mixed with an almost dread at the mere thought of her. He loves his mother but at the same time cannot stand her. This complex relationship is the core of Psycho and Perkins pulls off the subtle nuances of his character Norman Bates just brilliantly. I think his snub of an Oscar nomination was a mistake because these roles are not easy to convey so believably. Janet Leigh is also in top form with her portrayal of Marion Crane and she rightfully gained a best actress Oscar nomination for her work. Leigh is in full command of her character and knows where every movement is coming from so this nomination wasn't a farce. Her performance never swayed from the anxious, fearful Marion and certainly plays off Norman Bates in the great scene at the Motel. As far as the rest of the actors, I'd have to say I wasn't as thrilled with their work. They are all good performances, don't get me wrong but Vera Miles was definitely rusty in some of her scenes and her costar John Gavin wasn't much better. Ms. Vera Miles had been under contract to Hitchcock and was meant to star in Vertigo opposite Jimmy Stewart, but she became pregnant and the role went to Kim Novak. When Psycho came around the choice for Miles to play Marion's sister Lila was as easy a choice for Hitchcock as it was casting Leigh and Perkins. However, at certain moments in the film I almost flinched at the corniness of the acting from Miles and her co-star Gavin. Luckily she comes into her own towards the end and I am sure these flinches only came to me because of the glaring contrast they posed compared to the nearly perfect acting of Perkins and Leigh.

As far as the directing.. what can I say? It's textbook Hitchcock and he knew exactly what he wanted before he called out the first 'Action!' Every single shot of Psycho had been story boarded beforehand and this highly technical mode of film making shows itself off very well. The proof is in the pudding. It's in the many fantastic camera angles, the perfect scene set ups which continually build up the tension and the constant looming and eerie ambiance, whether it be light or dark outside, which just oozes from every scene that makes this film a classic. I mustn't forget the amazing score by Bernard Hermann, which just happily screeches it's way throughout the film almost as sharply as that carving knife that sliced through the killer's victims. The Friday the 13th series definitely borrowed their music scores from Psycho but with a much more ridiculous and laughable result. This one is prime Grade A horror.

Facts on Psycho:
1. Alfred Hitchcock knew that he could film Psycho for under a million dollars
2. Hitch used the crew from his hit television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents to film Psycho.
3. Hitch was certain that the film had to be shot in black and white because iin color it would have been too gory.
4. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins were Hitchcock's first and only choices for the leads.
5. Janet Leigh has written a biography entirely based on the making of Psycho
6. It took 7 days to shoot the shower scene (a third of Janet's total time spent on the film) and hundreds of camera shots.
MOST IMPORTANT FACT # 7. Don't even bother to see the 1998 remake.

A classic Horror film which slightly teeters out a bit at the very end but still always retains a brilliant sense of what it wants throughout. **** 1/2 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1132&reviewer=296
originally posted: 07/02/04 10:25:44
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User Comments

2/09/12 David Hollingsworth Two words: Shower scene 5 stars
10/12/11 t. true a must see for Xfiles fans. Mind blowing how it stands the test of time. 5 stars
6/06/10 User Name Hitchcock didn't just vindicate modern horror, he created it. 5 stars
5/18/10 bla lame 1 stars
4/29/10 skittlemonkey it is an istant classic 5 stars
4/26/10 Fat Chick wonderderous for its day 5 stars
3/10/10 Richard Brandt From the opening strains of Herrmann's shrieking strings, cinema would never be the same 5 stars
12/26/09 art THE FIRST SLASHER MOVIE!,ONE OF HITCH"S BEST! 4 stars
11/29/09 Aaron Commareri Hitchcock is the master. 5 stars
2/19/09 Total Crap PSYCHOPSYCHOPSYCHOPSYCHOWATCHITWATCHITWATCHIT 5 stars
2/10/09 lucy2 alrryt but old 3 stars
2/05/09 Anonymous. a classic. :] 5 stars
10/28/08 Hope the best horror film ever. 5 stars
9/22/08 don Masterpiece 5 stars
9/10/08 PAUL SHORTT AN EXQUISITELY EFFECTIVE PIECE OF SHOCK MATERIAL IF YOU LIKE THAT TYPE OF THING 4 stars
8/31/08 Em It was a good film and much better than the newer version, alfred hitchcock is a geniouse 4 stars
6/04/08 jared loved it 4 stars
5/22/08 haga i liked it 5 stars
2/24/08 hate it crappist movie ever 1 stars
2/15/08 gemma changed my mind 5 stars
2/13/08 chris cant be beat 5 stars
2/12/08 gemma it's ok, the film is alight could be better, as more effects would be more flashy... 3 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic An outstandingly effective cinematic experience 5 stars
12/30/07 Sugarfoot An obvious inspiration to the slasher genre. Also(Unlike said films) this is a masterpiece 5 stars
12/10/07 JANICE ITS GREAT!!!!! 5 stars
12/05/07 AVEr VEry Very good, the suspense is what makes the film. 5 stars
10/31/07 Mr G i thought i was very suspenseful for its era.... 3 stars
10/18/07 brenda cooper one of the scariest movies ever 5 stars
10/01/07 Jamie Ok-ish. There are only two kills. :l 3 stars
5/31/07 deepak i need to know abot movie story not about whts alfred thoughts but its good movie 3 stars
5/03/07 John G Hitchcock at his best, it scared the hell out of me in 1960 5 stars
4/27/07 Hitch If you found it bad pray that someday you'll have an eye for details and enough brains.. 5 stars
4/18/07 zenshark Makes other movies beg for mercy. 5 stars
4/17/07 Chris Redmond Andreanna, what a remarkably in-depth analysis. You shallow idiot.The best horror film ever 5 stars
4/16/07 R.W.Welch Best directed and best scored horror flick ever. 5 stars
3/29/07 maria compared to our movies today...it sucked i have seen so much better it was good for its age 1 stars
2/21/07 Steve-0 This movie smelled 1 stars
2/10/07 Double M 1 of the most shocking early twists. Perkins is incredible, some of the finest acting ever. 5 stars
1/27/07 action movie fan great hitchcock classic s cary and intense best film of 1960 5 stars
12/08/06 Ron the best Horror movies are NOT slasher ones, that is what this is, still a good movie 4 stars
11/22/06 David Cohen Van Sant will never be the director Hitchcock was, no matter how many ripoffs he does 5 stars
11/14/06 alice thingy it was kwlll 5 stars
11/13/06 Dark Enchantress Great movie! One of the greatest!!!!! 5 stars
10/17/06 Isaac Baranoff If anyone claims to hate this movie, they are PATHETIC LIARS. Perfect horror classic! 5 stars
10/12/06 Audreanna it was dumb 2 stars
6/26/06 MP Bartley Nothing more than big black joke on the audience - but it's pulled off brilliantly. 5 stars
5/14/06 mr.mike hitch"s masterpiece 5 stars
2/03/06 Zack sweet 5 stars
1/20/06 Quigley this movie is downright creepy. perkins is amazing. hitchcock is a total horror genius. 5 stars
1/09/06 Allison this is probably the best movie ever! 5 stars
12/15/05 RJS Utter masterpiece! Ground-breaking work 5 stars
12/07/05 YOU FUCKIN SUCK YOU FUCKIN SUCKKK 1 stars
12/03/05 cody a classic by hitchcock flim and tension is here my friends a wonderful story 4 stars
11/05/05 Minhchau Nguyen one of the best films 5 stars
9/02/05 Zack unlike his other films but still good 4 stars
7/23/05 ty mills Hitchcock's best directing, My favorite hitch movie 5 stars
5/15/05 Joe The best horror of Hitchcock ever! 5 stars
4/08/05 Jason Kreitzer The ultimate horror classic and one of the most influential horror movies ever. 5 stars
3/25/05 dwarzel Groundbreaking--killing off main character halfway through 5 stars
1/21/05 Jason Kaul Not Hitchcock's best, but close. Still better than anything Hollywood has put out recently. 5 stars
11/19/04 screb class 4 stars
10/14/04 laura marie the ending was such a suprise! 3 stars
7/31/04 jmsynth The start of modern horror and still unsurpassed 5 stars
7/19/04 Benjamin Petrofsky The Best Slasher/Suspense Film I have ever seen! This is a must see!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/10/04 EricDSnider One of the greatest suspense/horror films ever made. 5 stars
7/09/04 Colin M. Demge Wow! Amazing! Chilling! 5 stars
7/09/04 J Cadiramen You just can't beat this for sheer tension! MUCH better than the remake! 4 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva We all go a little mad sometimes 4 stars
6/07/04 Ryan Clark The shower scene hasn't impact, but the film has weakened slightly over the years. 4 stars
5/21/04 Sean Scanlan What a famous shower scene 5 stars
4/14/04 Magenta its not scary, its twisted, demented, and suspensful, its the gratest 5 stars
4/01/04 raymond squires brilliant 5 stars
3/23/04 Trannon Goble My favorite film of all-time 5 stars
2/07/04 Mikey T Horrible & frightening. Everything you'd want from a horror film. 5 stars
1/26/04 Eric Anthony Perkins made all the movies great.You rule dude!!! 5 stars
1/24/04 CC Classic 4 stars
12/15/03 Agent Sands No doubt one of the most innovative movies ever. A shocking masterpiece. 5 stars
12/07/03 Samuel A very good film... 4 stars
12/06/03 john it's made in 1960 (!) and it's scarier and more disturbing than anything made since 5 stars
10/10/03 Erik Van Sant This is horror history. Watch and learn. Hitchcock is a fucking genius. 5 stars
8/29/03 Dae_RaeAustin The definitive horror movie 5 stars
8/19/03 Hewdam A true classic 5 stars
8/12/03 Double G OVERATED, I HATED IT!!!! 1 stars
4/24/03 GWB missing something 2 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Creepy. 5 stars
4/02/03 Zach YES. 5 stars
2/25/03 Jacob A classic Horror movie with something called Suspense. 5 stars
1/02/03 John Aster Habig A horror film with great character development & mystery well scripted,filmed&acted 5 stars
11/24/02 Kyle Way ahead of it's time. Better than most horror films that followed. 4 stars
10/29/02 Nioami Black Absolutly wicked film even though its in the 60's. 5 stars
10/18/02 holly metcalfe shit scary ,brilliant ,gr8 , 5 stars
9/25/02 sean gothman the king 5 stars
8/16/02 Shaun still holds up well 5 stars
8/08/02 I Can't Swim God I hate you teenaged a-holes who can't respect a classic like this. B&W never hurts!! 5 stars
7/08/02 JAMES WRIGHT grate moosic and good acting 5 stars
5/26/02 Hannah Ok for a 1960's film, but the remake in colour is better. 4 stars
5/25/02 Charles Tatum A little dated, but light years ahead of the remake 4 stars
4/15/02 Film Dude What started it all. Horror would be nothing ithout it. 5 stars
2/17/02 Clarance Eah... Didn't really do it for me... If i wasn't a product of the 80's It might be differen 2 stars
2/17/02 Turtle Scary, very scary. A masterpiece. 5 stars
2/17/02 Meryl Best horror movie ever. 5 stars
1/17/02 David A. Like all truly great works, it never gets outdated. A horror classic! 5 stars
1/05/02 Magnum Craphole My favorite Hitchcock, and really atmospheric. Perkins was perfect. 5 stars
12/18/01 Rampage better than that shitty 1998 remake 5 stars
12/15/01 Ian Barr This film is god. My all-time favorite, no competition 5 stars
8/27/01 spaceworm Works better that CITIZEN KANE as the first movie to show in an Intro to Film course. 5 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat Freaky. 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk The best...perfect...Do you think I'm fruity, Norman? 5 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg An imortal classic 5 stars
6/15/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe Anyone who does not rate this AWESOME should choke on my prostate gland 5 stars
5/31/01 Podgous A brilliant film, from a brilliant man, at the height of his brilliant career. 5 stars
3/25/01 Monster W. Kung Psycho rules... one of the best thrillers ever. 5 stars
2/17/01 Tyrone This is the original, few have actually surpassed this, Bates and the soundtrack are amazin 5 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Suspenseful and terrifying without being manipulating. 5 stars
1/14/01 Gus Van Sant Hey what a good idea for a movie... 5 stars
1/13/01 Invader This movie is a true masterpiece, what an ending-years ahead of its time at least. 5 stars
1/12/01 Skip Excellent from start to finish. 5 stars
11/29/00 SP masterpiece in so many respects, but its "horror" factor is paled by today's standards 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla Watch this masterpiece, and please don't watch that fucked up remake 5 stars
11/24/00 Mic Hollywood should go back and study this one carefully before churning out any more crap. 5 stars
11/18/00 Croweater Can you believe Hitchcock was panned for this initially? I cant, its a classic. 5 stars
11/15/00 salvo toscano Vertigo's my favourite,but this film is simply great 5 stars
11/05/00 Hogarth? Beautifully made, even if it is considered one of Hitchcock's cheaper flicks. The best 5 stars
9/08/00 Gray Brilliant but lacking shocks and has a childish script 4 stars
6/21/00 Michael O"Neill simply excellent 5 stars
6/02/00 Hitch Fan This movie is certainly one of my favorite films ever. Hitchcock's direction is brilliant! 5 stars
5/31/00 Jill Deppel awesome film, never tire of seeing it, remakes never compare 5 stars
5/29/00 todd wow 5 stars
5/05/00 TIGGER The Master at his best 5 stars
5/02/00 Gus Van Sant i bow before the original!I am shit by comparison! 5 stars
5/01/00 David Rogers This shite has classic written all over it!WONDERFUL!Rent it NOW! 5 stars
4/19/00 malcolm unbelievable suspense. scary as hell w/o gore. take notes "Scream". 5 stars
3/14/00 Valerie West Very good till the last scene 5 stars
2/29/00 Bozo Indescribly fantastic; what Hitchcock contributed to movies is beyond anyone's scope 5 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC!!!!!! 5 stars
10/26/99 Jim Fagboni 5 stars
10/24/99 Christine Haftl chaftl@hotmail.com I saw the shower sequence in my Visual Literacy class and it's still scary 5 stars
8/19/99 Matthew Bartley Awesomely scary 5 stars
7/26/99 Patshee Anthony Perkins is Best actor and Handsome ! 5 stars
6/22/99 Elizaveta A crazy mind fuck! 5 stars
6/18/99 Sara I really like it, it's well edited. 5 stars
5/26/99 iyu Perfect in every way 5 stars
4/21/99 lucas jackson an outstanding scary horroh flick,the best of its kind 5 stars
3/11/99 little jerry In the history of film there's PRE PSYCHO &POST PSYCHO.That's how important it is. 5 stars
3/08/99 BabbaBooey The best Thriller in cinema history -one of the best films EVER (the remake can bite my ass 5 stars
3/03/99 bill stanbar I hated this piece of crap 1 stars
1/24/99 Meepos. A genuine classic, Hitchcock at it's best. 5 stars
12/28/98 pedro chido 5 stars
12/08/98 Binky Perkins=unbelievably good. Should have been Oscars for all. 5 stars
12/07/98 Shadow Raider Better than the '98 version. Don't mess with it. Think classy. 5 stars
12/06/98 Johny So well done. Perkins is awesome. Remake is pathetic considering this was the basis 5 stars
11/29/98 Mike F Boring. Didn't like it. 2 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink How can anyone hate this ????? 5 stars
11/23/98 Peter OK for a 40s movie. But I've seen better. 4 stars
11/20/98 Fast Eddie The definitive film of the last 40 yrs. 5 stars
10/31/98 Silent Rob 30 viewnings deep, and I'm still seeing/reading things from it differently...EVERY TIME! 5 stars
10/15/98 {{{OZ}}} Awesome Hitchcock. The remake won't have shit on this one. It can't. Psycho is perfect. 5 stars
10/15/98 CaptNish Fuckin' Tony Perkins man!!! Fuckin' Hitch man....beautiful... 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Jun-1960 (R)

UK
  31-Jul-1998 (12)

Australia
  02-Feb-1971 (M)


Directed by
  Alfred Hitchcock

Written by
  Joseph Stefano

Cast
  Anthony Perkins
  Vera Miles
  John Gavin
  John McIntire
  Janet Leigh
  Martin Balsam



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