Here it is, the grand-daddy of all horror films. Or at least the supposed origin of the slasher film. But much classier, and with more cross-dressing.
I love this movie. Love love love it. Anthony Perkins is perfect as Norman Bates, the mother-loving murderer of the Bates Motel. (Yes, I spoiled the ending, but if you haven't seen the movie or at least know the basic plot line, then shame on you.) I love Anthony Perkins so much that a few years ago, I used to go to a local old-people restaurant (and by this I mean there were a lot of old people present, they didn't serve old people as food or anything) and there was a waiter there who looked exactly like Anthony Perkins. I called him Anthony sometimes, to myself. I don't know how he would have reacted if I had called him that to his face, but I really don't even remember his real name, as sad as that is.
So in eighth grade I went through a Hitchcock phase, and this was always my favorite one. I'm sure some film buff would tell me that this was Hitchcock's worst film or it had no subtlety or something, but when you're raised on horror, how can you help but be drawn to it? The fact that Marion Crane is killed off in the first third of the movie is shocking, especially since she's billed as a star and the main character. She's not even in most of the damn movie. Do they even do that kind of thing anymore? I can't think of an example, but maybe I just don't make good connections between films.
All anyone ever remembers from this movie is the famous Shower Scene. It's famous, so it must be capitalized. It's the law. With good reason too, because it's very well-done and eerie. The music (mimicked in Signs); the slightly erotic stabbing motions, which make no actual blood or gore, oddly enough; the shadow of the "mother" figure, who looks a bit like a senile grandmother; the chocolate syrup used for the fake blood running down the drain, since the filmmakers figured, it's in black and white, no one will notice. Perfection.
They remade this movie, didn't they? I never forced my self to watch the remake, which I imagine would be like drinking a bucket of vomit. Terrible tragedy. Vince Vaughn? How could you think that you could carry a role like that? It's a shame.
That Shower Scene, I think, has frightened generations of people to be a little more lax with their hygiene rituals, especially at road-side motels. Who wants to take a shower at a little armpit hotel like that, and risk being stabbed to death by Norman Bates? Not me. And why wouldn't Marion lock the door to the bathroom? If memory serves me right, I think she even left the door slightly open. What a silly person.
There's so much to this movie that sadly couldn't be addressed in that time period, because of the social mores and all that fun stuff. Like, what exactly was Norman Bates doing while watching Marion through the peephole behind the picture frame? One can only guess. It wouldn't have been very classy to have anything too graphic, but it's pretty obvious he wasn't just watching her. And what did Norman do with his mother's corpse in the basement? I'm sure he didn't just drink tea with her and don her clothes every now and then to go trick-or-treating. Maybe I'm reading too much into Bates' latent sexuality, but it's all a little suspicious if you ask me.
So Marion gets killed, Norman goes to jail and his thoughts are in a female voice, he won't harm a fly, etc. How did this movie spawn two sequels? I've never forced myself to watch them, but I'm sure they involved some convoluted plot twist that had Norman escaping from prison to be reunited in some sick love story with his deceased mother. What a happy ending.
So if you want to see the basis for twenty years of shitty slasher movies, go rent Psycho. Make sure it's not the Vince Vaughn version, or I will have to slap you.