Friday, 11 February 2011



Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Year: 1960
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Psycho is undoubtedly one of the most imitated and most influential films of all time. From the famous, horrific shower scene to the strident, discordant soundtrack which has been used in hundred other movies to denote the presence of a ‘psycho’, it named Hitchcock as one of bravest directors in film history who dared to change the spectator’s role forever. As Wood pointed out: “it's a perfectly realised, visually rich, and chilling look at masculinity and schizophrenia that had more than a hand in redefining the role of the spectator in terms of mainstream cinema, most notably perhaps in the famous shower sequence which re-explored the nature of cinematic voyeurism.” (Wood.2000).  Even the title gives an introduction to the film, its snappy and intriguing without giving away the plot, yet leaves enough imagination to be intimidating.
Psycho’s genius lies in its construction. Hitchcock made sure that the plot of the story would consistently flow expectations. There were also a lot of surprises throughout the film; the biggest one was Marion’s death during the first hour of the film, which was totally unexpected. The screenplay tricked the audience that she was the main character but the events dispelled that illusion leaving the audience jaw-dropped and questioned as to what will the rest of the film be based on. Another surprise was the revelation of the Mother, when the audience was almost certain that Norman Bates and his Mother were two different people, but was surprisingly the unhealthy relationship between him and his mother’s corpse which transformed him schizophrenic.

FIG.2: The corpse.
Of course and unforgettable scene worth talking about is Marion’s murder scene: the shower. The scene is so famous that even people who haven’t seen the film are still aware of the importance of the scene to cinema history. It was said it generated a wave of shower phobia as the audience became aware of the vulnerability you can be in during shower. It’s a rather silent scene, with the sound of the water flowing, juxtaposed with the harsh, sticking orchestral which sends a shiver up your spines. The penetration of the knife is into the flesh is briefly shown, including the woman parts which adds a bit of a hallucination to the rapid, chaotic scene.The scene is very unique as the camera becomes the knife. The decision to shot the scene from the knife’s point of view made it much more personal to the audience that on-screen attacks. Even when the film was first shown it was said that:   During the shower scene, it is said that people fainted, vomited and ran screaming from the theater. An onscreen attack had never before been captured in such a personal way. In the frenzy, it is easy to believe that at least some fans’ terror mushroomed into a full-blown phobia.” (Fritscher.2009)
FIG.3: The indelible shower scene.
In many ways the film was innovative and revolutionary. Hitchcock used a lot of methods that were not previously used in cinema such as the flushing of the toilet which is now seen often in horror movies and the transvestite sereal killer, who was obsessed with the loss of his mother and was pretending to be her  to satisfy her presence.  He even felt guilty for bonding with other people, which could leave his Mother out, so he 'got rid of them' by killing them. The use of a drag in a horror film  was a clever idea, even though before that they were only used for comedic value. This idea of the a two persona psycho murderer was followed by a lot more film's like Roman Polanski's The Tenant and Jonathan Demme's The Silence of The Lambs.
In conclusion, Psycho is certainly a legendary film to watch a real landmark in horror film-making. It is breathtaking, full of unexpected surprises and will still be influencing modern horror films. 

List of Illustrations
FIG.1: Typography Film Poster At: (accessed on 11/2/2011)
FIG.3: Film Still At:  (accessed on 11/2/2011)

Wood,David(2000)FilmReviewAt: 11/2/2011)
LisaFritcher(2009)FilmReviewAt: 11/2/2011)


  1. a few typos...

    Psycho’s geniusness - just 'genius'

    cereal killer - 'serial killer' (cereal = cornflakes!)