ByFernanda Loya, writer at
Fernanda Loya

The 1960 black and white American thriller is one of the most memorable films of all time. An incredible, yet unknown cast and some of the most well-known scenes in film which revolutionized the genre, are just part of what make this a spectacular film adaptation.

The Story

The story unfolds with Marion, a secretary, who ends in the chill inducing Bates Motel after stealing $4000 from her boss and running away. There, she encounters with Norman Bates and is later murder, leading into her murder investigation. This story becomes interestingly unusual because of the strange and unknown character of Mrs. Bates, who Hitchcock kept secret. Hitchcock maintained the suspense and mystery regarding who was Mrs. Bates during the film’s production, for when advertising the film he would play around with actresses’ names or refuse to give away any information. He also kept it secret from those working on the film and from the studios, making the reveal of Mrs. Bates truthfully being Norman (the real Mrs. Bates dead long before the film's developing) as the grand ending the film deserved.

The Shower Scene

The film is also the originator of what is probably the most famous murder scene, one that changed the genre of terror and suspense, making Psycho the first slasher film. The "shower scene", is a popular culture icon. It has been labeled as the scariest scene of all time thanks to contributing factors such as the unforgettable music score. Due to its popularity, it has been famously parodied since the film came out in shows like The Simpsons, and has been referenced in other horror films such as Halloween and Scream. The scene has become film’s most famous symbol.

From Golden Boy to a Murderer

Anthony Perkins performance is a large part of what made this project extraordinary, for Hitchcock’s casting of him was a move planned with precision. Perkins was usually typecast in a different kind of role in his previous films, such as more boyish and “cute”, a typical heartthrob for girls as well as with a timid personality. Fortunately, this allowed for the audience to see this persona of him, and then slowly progress into the serial killer.

Keeping the Secret

Another thing that showed off Hitchcock’s ingenuity is the way in which he would film scenes. As previously mentioned, he made an exhorting effort in maintaining Mrs. Bates' identity secret. When the detective that is investigating Marion’s death shows up at the Bates house, located near the motel, the viewer expects for him to be assassinated by Mrs. Bates. However Hitchcock’s direction of the camera displays the slash murder in such a way that her face is never seen. Another way it was demonstrated was his decision to kill the main star within the film’s first hour. There was no star to follow throughout the film, and it was a precarious move. This is part of his unusual style that breaks narrative paradigms in films, giving the audience an element of surprise.

These elements, along with the film’s vast range of awards, ingenuity and popularity, is what made the movie the named project that represents Hitchcock’s legacy. It may not have been the best film in many aspects, but it definitely is a genius one, and it is also a film that should be on one's 'must see'.


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