Psycho (1960) – Slasher or mystery?

Continuing on my old horror marathon, you know I had to watch Psycho. I had heard many things about it, but never once watched it for myself. I must say though I do not respect Alfred Hitchcock as a person, I do have to admit he was damn good at creating horror films.

The movie opens upon Marion Crane, the female lead, and her boyfriend in bed. We are told specifically what time it is, 2:43 pm. And well, you know nothing good ever happens at 2:43 pm. Her and her boyfriend discuss their relationship, and why they’re keeping it a secret in some of the worst dialogue I have heard in a while. Genuinely this made me cringe.

“You can lick the stamps.”

“Oh I’ll lick the stamps.”

Is a genuine exchange. I think it was meant to be sexy talk, but instead just came across as hilarious. After her and her boyfriend awkwardly discuss marriage and stamp licking, its off to work! She goes in, and claims to have a headache as her boss walks in with a business partner.

This business partner is apparently absurdly drunk, and gives Marion 40,000 dollars, claiming he never carries more than he can lose. Now I did the math so you don’t have to, and this is the equivalent to over 3.5 million dollars today. Needless to say the boss tries to talk him out of it, but proceeds to tell Marion to put it in the bank til morning. Knowing once the man sobers up, he will want the money back. Marion is sent to the bank and home. Instead she grabs the money, packs up, and flees town.

I must say though the movie frames this as stealing, I thought this was kind of stupid. The man may have been drunk but he still gave her the money. Was it a bit questionable for her to keep it? Perhaps, but he still gave her the money. She was, in my opinion, in her rights to keep it. But I digress. She evidently felt she was stealing as well if she left town because of it.

Now I don’t believe I need to explain the exposition, or say much of anything other than, she soon arrives at the Bate’s motel, and we all know how this goes for her afterward. When she arrives she meets the seemingly sweet and charming Norman Bates. Though it quickly becomes evident he is quite troubled.

He offers to have Marion over for dinner, but when he returns home Marion can hear as his mother screams at him that she will not allow it. Calling Marion all sorts of names in the process. Norman returns apologizing, but offers her a sandwich he has made, and they both go into a parlour in his office together. They talk, get to know each other. And it soon becomes evident Norman is quite attached to his sick mother. He believes he needs to look after her, and that no one else can. Its very clear they have a disturbing attachment to one another. Freud must be jumping for joy in the afterlife.

Not long after, when she chooses to turn in for bed, and return home in the morning, she goes to have a shower. Norman, already creepily obsessed with her, watches from a hole in the wall, but soon leaves. But then, the iconic shower scene happens, and Marion is soon killed by what seems to be Normans mother. Norman finds out, and is distraught, but dutifully covers up the crime as a good son apparently should.

This is a lot, but its only about the halfway point of the movie. The movie grows with more mystery, and at least one more murder, before it is discovered what has truly happened. The audience itself is mostly kept in the dark as to the reality of the situation as well.

Now, in case you haven’t watched this film before I won’t spoil any more for you, so lets simply discuss the usual. Beginning with how the film is shot.

Now, movies from the 60s I cannot hold up in anyway to movies today, specifically when it comes to how it is shot. There are rarely shots there simply to look nice or cool, or to try to get a point across. The shots are simply there for the story and that is it.

I will say however that I do think the shower scene is actually shot quite well. Seeing as a dark figure creeps up on Marion actually unsettled me, even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, and I have also seen far scarier things. It set up the anticipation, and the horror of the moment. It wasn’t quick either. You watch as Marion struggles for her life before ultimately not being able to stop the knife. Which is honestly the only thing that tipped the scales and told me this was a horror movie, not a crime/mystery.

Now I will not get farther into the plot to avoid any more major spoilers for those who have not seen it. So let us simply get into the technical aspects now.

There are other times with terrible close up shots. In which the character is so zoomed in you can practically see the pores in their face, and then they continue to walk toward the camera. I can’t describe it well enough, but I think even non film students would understand when they saw the shot how ineffective and needless it is.

Now aside from that, I actually think the plot is quite good, especially for a 60s horror film. There are certainly flaws, moments I think could have been done a bit better, but overall I think it is actually quite a strong film. However, it is also one best left in the past. Much of its ideas on psychology are far in the past, and are simply inaccurate in todays lens. It’s a dream for Freud, but I’m quite sure that is about it.

As I mentioned previously I believe this film falls more into a crime drama or mystery story than it does a horror movie. But regardless it is still and interesting watch. I would certainly recommend this movie to anyone trying to get into watching old movies.

Alas those are my final thoughts on the subject. Now I simply have an announcement for any of my viewers. I have officially begun a Ko-Fi. I am currently trying to save for a new laptop, as my current one is on its last legs. If you have the means, I would love it if you could at least peek at my page here. Regardless if you do or do not, I do simply appreciate you taking a moment to read what I have to say.

I also finally have a mailing list set up! You can sign up on my page below this post! I hope to see you there.

Let me know in the comments below. Have you seen Psycho before? What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my assertions?

With all that said, this is Rev, signing off.

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