Monday, October 24, 2016

31 Days of Horror: PSYCHO

Welcome horror fans, to Day 24 of the 31 DAYS OF HORROR!  We are back with another film in our lead up to Halloween, and today we will be reviewing the classic Hitchcock thriller...PSYCHO.  Enjoy!

I watched Psycho today for the first time, and my expectations were high, real high. It was also my very first Alfred Hitchcock film, so I was very excited to find out what all the fuss was about, but I was also nervous that it wasn't going to live up to my unrealistically high expectations... But somehow... It did.

Psycho is about a woman named Marion Kramer, played excellently by legendary actress Janet Leigh, who, desperate to marry her lover Sam, steals $40,000 to run away with him. Things transpire and eventually she encounters Norman Bates, and creepiness ensues.


The first half hour is spent with Leigh's character Marion, whose paranoia makes us, the audience, feel uncomfortable, makes us feel like were being followed, like she is, by a policeman who encountered her when she was asleep in her car.

The cinematography in this film is brilliant as well. Cinematographer John L. Russell was nominated for an Oscar for his work on this 1960 classic, and rightfully so. The film's first frame is a beautiful aerial shot of Phoenix, Arizona, where the beginning of the film is set. For someone like me, who unfortunately does not frequently watch black and white films, it was quite refreshing to see one, and a beautiful looking one at that.

But back to Leigh, who is great here. She was also nominated for an Oscar, for best supporting actress, because even though the film positions her to be the lead, she is only in the film for the first 40 minutes or so, because she gets stabbed to death in the shower, a scene every film fan/anyone who is familiar with pop culture is aware of.

It is a masterful scene. The music is haunting, the acting by Leigh is convincing, the way Hitchcock films the scene is strikingly professional, it is clear the man has been in the film business, by 1960, for over 30 years. And the way he cuts from Leigh's screaming Marion, to a shadowy figure in a nightdress, is very affective.

Another key scene everyone always refers to, is when Marion's sister, who begins to look for her after she is killed, goes over to the Bates motel with Marion's lover, after a private investigator, hired by the man who Marion stole the money from, went to the Bates motel and met his fate at the hands of the shadowy figure, finds Norman Bates's mother dead, a skeleton in fact, in a full nightdress in a rocking chair in the basement.

It is a horrific scene, one that reveals to the audience the true darkness that lurks within Norman.

See, throughout the film Norman is shown to be socially awkward, clearly a little disturbed, and perhaps even slightly rude, but the film always makes us, the audience, suspect Norman's mother, whom we hear "talking" to Norman, but never actually see her... Well that is because she is dead, and Norman has schizophrenia and has killed Marion, the private investigator, and perhaps other young women, which is alluded to at the end of the film.

Bates is a madman, a psycho. He belongs in the mount rushmore of Horror film villains. Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Norman Bates. Anthony Perkin's performance, for me, belongs up there with the greats. He is so unsettling and sinister, when I was watching the film, I even saw some shades of Ledger's Joker, who must have took some inspiration from Bates.

Psycho is a brilliant film, and now one of my favourites. Unnerving, suspenseful and terrific pacing by the master, Alfred Hitchcock.

Sammy's Score: 10/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We're posting a new horror review every day all throughout October, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we'll have you covering your eyes from next!

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