31 Days of Halloween – Day 6
Psycho (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) I will begin by admitting that black and white films are not my favorite. There is no real reason, I just don’t dig them as much as I do color movies. That being said, there are a few that I can enjoy, despite my obvious flawed film viewing habits. The sixth entry of my 31 Days of Halloween extravaganza, Psycho, is one of those classics that I do enjoy, and consider a landmark in horror movie history. Secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) decides to commit theft against her employer, and in doing so, leaves town with the cash she has stolen. She sets out towards California to meet her lover. After a long day of driving, the tired Marion checks into the Bates Motel for the evening. There, she meets the hotel proprietor, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who lives up the hill in a house he shares with his domineering mother. It is what happens next in Psycho that set the stage for horror cinema for the next fifty years. Until then, Hollywood’s dark side was dominated by monsters, mutants, and aliens as the evil antagonists. Psycho humanized evil, and gave it a man’s face. Alfred Hitchcock’s enduring classic set the table for countless slashers, creeps, and maniacs to make their way into cinema. The film is much more than a typical horror movie. It also contains Hitchcock’s signature film noir and murder mystery/thriller vibe. The Janet Leigh shower scene may be one of the most famous and recognizable scenes in film history, if not the most famous. Sure, in this desensitized era, that scene is tame. Yet, think about what that scene meant to movie-goers in 1960, when blood and bare skin were taboo. Psycho would have made an impact on people who were not used to that type of on-screen violence. Gus Van Sant tried to make a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, but you cannot replicate near perfection, and Vince Vaughn is no Anthony Perkins. Perkins is almost too good as the tormented Norman Bates. His portrayal of Bates puts him in the same stratosphere with Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector and Heath Ledger’s Joker as cinema psychopaths. Going back to my first statement regarding black and white films versus color films, Psycho would not be nearly as effective if it was shot in color. The way Hitchcock filmed it gives the picture an air of timelessness and immortality. On second thought, maybe I should give monochrome a second chance. But for you, faithful readers, you should make psycho a part of your Halloween viewing. Sometimes it is nice to go back where it all started.
Cool Fact: In homage to Psycho, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) from John Carpenter`s Halloween is named after Janet Leigh`s screen lover of the same name.
- Day 1 – The Conjuring
- Day 2 – You’re Next
- Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
- Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
- Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
- Day 6 – Psycho (1960)