30 July 2014

PSYCHO (1960)

108 min.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntyre, Simon Oakland, Frank Albertson, Vaughn Taylor, Patricia Hitchcock.
The ultimate slasher prototype and genre favorite. Not to mention one of Alfred Hitchcock's most significant - and most enjoyable - triumphs.

An unassuming secretary from Phoenix, Marion Crane (Leigh) steals $40,000 from her desk job and skips town.

In her car on the interstate, Marion encounters an unexpected rainstorm, and so she decides to spend the night at the off-the-beaten-track Bates Motel.

You know, one of those quiet overnight inns just off the main highway.

Perfect for getting a good night's shut eye, right?

The polite young proprietor Norman (Perkins) seems very kind, very gentle...even if he appears a little nervous about his dominating mother up in the house on the hill.

But is there more here than meets the eye? Could Norman be mentally imbalanced? Or is he covering something up for his mother?

What could the Bates' secret be?

Captivating from beginning to end, thanks not only to its meticulously crafted structure, but more importantly to the instinctive gut punches it delivers with regularity.

The film's best shock moments - such as the shower scene, Norman's fevered discussions with mother, the secret in the fruit cellar - are all perfectly executed. And Hitch's delightful touches of black humor during the exposition scenes are a perfect complement.

Perkins effortlessly creates a horror icon with more sublety - and permanence - than any seen since. And the tension throughout is palpable.

It's not only a fun ride in and of itself. PSYCHO is an irreproachable horror classic that would serve as a master template for terror films over the next five decades.

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