Sunday, August 22, 2010

#59 - Psycho - 1960

The 3rd movie I chose to watch this week is a classic in every sense of the word. This movie is the 1960 blockbuster Psycho! 50 Years after its original release this film still stands as one of the greatest horror films of all time and for good reason. I have done a great deal of research on this film and learned some pretty interesting stuff and this is easily one of my favorite horror films ever. Below is my detailed review.

Now just in case there are some out there who don't know this movie or anything about it let me first say, push the rock aside and crawl out, welcome to the world. haha. This 1960 classic starred the following individuals. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, Vera Miles as Lila Crane, Martin Balsam as Detective Milton Arbogast, and John Gavin as Sam Loomis. Speaking of Gavin, I found it funny last night when my wife said "wow, he is an attractive man". I don't even know if he is still alive or not but I wonder what he looks like as an older gentleman? The cast was great and Id like to dedicate the entire next paragraph to one Mr. Anthony Perkins, Norman Bates himself!

I dont know enough about Anthony Perkins as an actor and what he did before this film but this has to be his most memorable role ever. He was beyond brilliant in the role of Norman Bates. I mean here you have a tall skinny dark haired handsome young man who on the outside seems friendly and kind but there is a whole different ball game playing upstairs with this guy. I hear a lot of people compare him to Ted Bundy but personally I never saw Ted Bundy as that charismatic handsome guy people thought he was but I'm not a woman so what do I know. All I know is that Norman Bates was pure psycho! The smirks and smiles, laughs and chuckles were just a rouse because the real Norman Bates came more to fruition when he was questioned by Sam Loomis and became agitated and highly irritated. The knuckles increasingly moving faster on the desk, the eyebrow twitching, and the mouth starting to stutter were all signs of the beast that was within and Anthony Perkins played it all so well! His incredibly believable insane character all came to a creepy end when we see a Norman Bates in a jail cell at the end of the film speaking as his mother providing a menacing smile from ear to ear at the camera. Truly sensational and this scene among many others in the films makes me wish I had the opportunity to see it back when it opened in the theater back in 1960, how scary would that have been?

There's no need to divulge about the plot of this film because my take is if you don't know the story or never heard of it you don't deserve to get a history lesson here. Check out one of the hundred or so sites online for more info or better yet rent the movie! I honestly don't think any adult out there wouldn't know about this film though right? With that being said I'm going to list some of my favorite scenes of the film below as well as describe the magical music throughout this film that is iconic to this day and forever will be. Ill also touch briefly on the historic set for this film that still stands and is easily my favorite stop on the Universal Studios Tram Tour in Hollywood, CA.

Lets start with the music. One word, AMAZING! This music will forever be the most notable and recognizable music and score for any horror film, scratch that, any film in the history of cinema. Now remember this is my personal opinion but lets be honest when you hear this music do you really ever sit there thinking, what is that too? Highly doubtful! To me there is not any other musical score more notable than this and yes I know there have been other notable ones out there but this takes the cake and yes that includes "Singing in the Rain". The music is made up of string instrument's only and is ranked #4 on AFI's (American Film Institute) 100 Years of Film Scores. Ill have to check and see what was #1-3. The screeching scream like noise that is the most memorable is just downright frightening and loud especially when played on surround sound. I mean if I couldn't have seen this in the theater a viewing at home with all the lights out and surround sound on would have to be my 2nd best choice right? All in all remarkable music!

The setting for this film was basically the Bates Motel and the Psycho House where Norman Bates lived behind the Motel. This set and house are still standing today in wonderful condition at the Universal Studios Lot in Hollywood, CA. I love seeing this set every time I visit Universal Studios and a couple years back while attending the Halloween Horror Nights we actually got to walk right by the front of the Motel itself and then up and around and right by the Psycho house as well. Being that close was amazing and I always think to myself what it would have been like to be on that set 50 years ago. The set itself is pretty bare with your essential 12 motel rooms and office but the house is awesome looking. The reason this set was so spooky was because the mere thought of a secluded motel out off the highway in the middle of nowhere is just creepy. I mean personally I think of hikers, serial killers, and homeless men and women frequenting these places and that to me is kinda scary. Add in a "psycho" like Norman Bates as your Motel Manager then things get even crazier. I wish they had opened up the actual sets with doors open and all to set the interior of them but I doubt that is ever going to be allowed on the public tour. I wonder if on the VIP Tour at Universal if that is something they do? Hmmm, Ill have to check into that.

Ok lets talk scenes. This film had some great ones and one in particular legendary one that we all know. The scenes that I enjoyed the most were ones that took place at Bates Motel or the Psycho House. For instance the scene where Marion had sandwiches with Norman in the office of the Motel was brilliant and freaky. The stuffed birds all around which led to the taxidermist dialogue was quite odd and gave us all a sense that Norman was a little different than your average Joe. The quote where Norman says "A boys best friend is his mother" is the #56 most popular movie quote by AFI. I also really loved the scene where Sam Loomis questioned and practically interrogated Norman while Lila was snooping around the Motel. The intensity and agitation that came over Norman in this scene was masterful! Almost as good but not half as intense was the scene where Arbogast questioned Norman in the office as well.

Lets turn to the scariest scenes of the film. The music and score helped make the scare factor even more for these scenes as it did for some much of the movie itself. Ok the infamous shower scene. This scene was so very cool on so many levels and not having lived back in the 60's all I can do is imagine how risky this scene must have been. The stabbing and screaming and blood were all incredible ingredients in one historic scene. This scene was the highlight of the film. A scene that I actually thought was even scarier was the scene where Arbogast reached the top of the staircase in the Psycho House and almost immediately after doing so the screeching music played and a old woman (Norman) comes running out of the room and stabs Arbogast who then falls to his death down the stairs. That to me was the scariest scene in the movie. One of the more intense was obviously when Lila was hiding from Norman and went downstairs to see the skeletal remains before Norman dressed as his mother came in to try and kill her. The final scene of the movie where we see a smiling creepy Norman talking in his mother's voice while in a jail chamber was a perfect ending for a near perfect film! AFI didn't rank this the 14th greatest movie of all time for nothing! For me it was amazing and an obvious A+!

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