Classic Review: PSYCHO

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Hi everyone, Joel here,

It’s the start of the new week and unfortunately I’ve been a little under the weather for the past few days. You’ll also notice that there isn’t a preview article today, this is because I’m trying to mix things up and keep a fresh vibe about InTheKan…that and quality release are slim for the next while.

Today you’ll get treated to the first of hopefully many classic film reviews. In a poll asked on facebook, you decided that Alfred Hitchcock’s “PSYCHO” was the film that you wanted me to review. Well here it is for your very much enjoyment!

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PSYCHO

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Cast:

Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles

 

 

PSYCHO, the imagery is right there, ingrained in our psyche – the shower scene has virtually become a myth and synonymous with the term. It’s a great scene filled with suspense and it has set a precedent for all slasher/horror films that follow in its footsteps. But Hitchcock’s widely acclaimed masterpiece of suspense and mystery is so much more than just one scene. Just as Michelangelo plotted and chiselled the statue of David, Hitchcock has meticulously crafted Psycho into the stuff of legend.

Marion Crane, a naive secretary who has been given a task of depositing a large some of money for her employers biggest client. The task divides her life into two roads – the one is to deposit the money as asked, the other is to engage her baser instincts and run away with the cash. She takes the money and as with many decisions in life, we don’t think the consequences through until the 13th hour. Her motives for taking the road less travelled are unclear, perhaps she wasn’t happy with her lot in life, perhaps she just wanted some excitement, or maybe she just wants to ‘run away to her own private island’ – what we do know is that she’s sticking to this path and does her best to convince herself that she can get away with it.

Little did Marion know that stopping by for the night at a shady motel on the old California highway would be the end of the road for her. She is greeted by Norman Bates, a peculiar innkeeper with nefarious pastimes that is surpassed only by his bizarre personality. Peering from behind the motel is a creaky house where Bates’ dominating “Mother” gazes with baleful intent. Following a disconcerting rendezvous with Bates surrounded by his eerie stuffed bird collection, Marion decides to turn in for the night in preparation for a day-break escape…but not before a shower.

Psycho's infamous shower scene

The shower scene is an important part of cinematic history, it was the first time that I realised that I feared what I did not see more so than any gory imagery could provide – I think that Hitchcock realised this too which is why it became his modus operandi throughout his cinematic repertoire. It’s a shame that there seems to be a growing trend among modern slasher films to abandon this great technique in favour of ultra violence.

The tale isn’t over by a long shot though as Marion’s disappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed…nor has the missing forty thousand dollars. Marion’s sister along with her boyfriend Sam set forth in uncovering the whereabouts of their missing loved one after a private investigator sheds some light on her presence at the Bates motel after vanishing conspicuously too.

Psycho’s story may have started off as a book but the film takes on an identity of its own. The direction and screenplay not only emphasise the psychotic nature of Bates but capture the nature of psychosis and use it as an assault on our senses. Hitchcock has been known for his dedication to perfection and the film medium is but a catalyst for his genius. The whole production benefits from his pedantic personality and can be seen through every facet. The film has a ‘Hitchcockian’ synergy, that’s all there is to it.

As with any other Hitchcock film, the directing is a cut above other celluloid efforts. Sublimely paced and cinematography astounding, Hitch reaches perfection from frame one. Each scene is beautifully composed and this is one of the films strongest points because it facilitates the translation of mystery into visuals. All things considered, no matter how many remakes or sequels tacked onto the Psycho franchise: if there is no Hitchcock, there is no Psycho.

The cast as a whole play their parts superbly but the real attraction is Anthony Perkins. Perkins is Bates and Perkins himself is a channel for this multifaceted pseudo-self. You’ll be hard pressed to find another character in any film that gives a performance this convincing – every facial twitch, every syllable – an emotional expertise is infused in every aspect of his portrayal of the mysterious Norman Bates.

Don't Be Late!

Wrapping up the package is Psycho’s score. Bernard Herrmann, a frequent Hitchcock collaborator provided the psychological soundtrack to the film and his participation cannot go without praise. The music in Psycho perfectly adds suspence to a film already high strung with tension. Each bow of the violin pulls at the adrenalin muscle, regulating our physical reaction to the onscreen pandemonium. Were there no music in Psycho, the film may not have become the film we know today – there would be no straining of the violins as Marion is filleted in the shower and the chaos in the Saul Bass animated intro sequence would not have the effect that has become known for. Herrmann’s score puts the anxiety in Psycho.

Hitchcock’s opus will forever live on in the annals of cinematic legend as a piece of art that will reside on a pedestal amongst prominent films such as Citizen Kane and Dr. Strangelove. Its influence runs deep into pop culture and beyond and continues to thrill audience’s decades after it first hit the silver screen. Till this day, the legacy of Psycho still finds its way into modern movie theatres through the works of cult horror directors and well established filmmakers alike and that’s a fact that won’t end any time soon.

Just remember, “It is REQUIRED that you see PSYCHO from the very beginning ”

5 stars

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Which Hitchcock film is your favourite? I personally cannot decide as I love pretty much all of them!

You made your thoughts known in the latest facebook poll – your choice for the cult sci-fi film I will review is…DONNIE DARKO!

Stay tuned for that one folks, until then, stay classy…