Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Capsule Review: Psycho (1960)

psycho-1-1024A film so crucial to the modern development of horror that it’s almost impossible to overstress its impact, Psycho’s shocking scenes may now be dulled by decades of imitation and parody, but for those who only know the key elements – the shower scene, Norman Bates, the shrieking Bernard Herrmann score, and the iconic Bates motel itself – there is still plenty left to enjoy. Hitchcock chose to film on the cheap, channelling William Castle with his memorably comic trailer and the gimmick of locking theater doors after the film stared, but his perfectionist style is still on display with a multitude of lovingly crafted scenes of terror. I recently took in a showing on the big screen and my wife – who had never seen the whole film, and isn’t a fan of the genre – still jumped several times during the screening. Sure, the psychiatrist scene at the end is completely superfluous and goes on forever, and not all of the performances are as great as Anthony Perkins legendary lead nutcase, but these are small complaints. Every giallo and slasher owe a big nod to Psycho. Bafflingly remade by Gus Van Sant in 1998.

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