Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Psycho
Featurette-In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy
Featurette-Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
Additional Footage-The Shower Scene: With & Without Music
Additional Footage-Alfred Hitchcock Presents 'Lambs to the Slaughter'
|Year Of Production||1960|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Alfred Hitchcock|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
French Dolby Digital 2.0
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0
German Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† Itís impossible to discuss the narrative and storytelling brilliance of Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho without divulging spoilers. The movieís twists and secrets are almost common knowledge over five decades after its release, but fair warning all the same. If you have not seen Psycho and are oblivious to its surprises, stop reading this review right now and watch the movie. It is a masterpiece, and thatís all you need to know.
††† Released in 1960, Psycho has become synonymous with the late great Alfred Hitchcock, standing proudly alongside the likes of Rear Window, North By Northwest and Vertigo. An adaptation of Robert Blochís 1959 novel of the same name, Psycho was actually an attempt by Hitchcock to reinvent himself at the time and try something different. A trend had broken out in Hollywood during the 1950s, with low-risk, low-budget horrors crowding theatres and effortlessly generating a large profit. However, said movies were not often particularly good, and Hitchcock was eager to see what would happen if somebody talented helmed a comparable production. Despite being able to command lavish budgets, Hitchcock wanted to create a horror movie on the cheap with the crew of his television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and was even compelled to go outside the studio system to fund the movie himself. Itís a gamble that paid off, and the film still holds up today. Indeed, Psycho is not just groundbreaking, influential and oft-imitated - itís also a highly engaging, albeit disturbing horror movie.
††† A clerk in a real estate office earning an average wage, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is engaged in a romantic relationship with Sam Loomis (John Gavin), but they cannot get married because of Samís debts. When Marionís boss closes a lucrative real estate deal, Marion is entrusted to deposit $40,000 in cash into the bank, but the large sum of money is simply too tempting. Seeing a way out of her situation, she impulsively decides to keep it and sets off to visit Sam, but a powerful storm one night compels Marion to seek accommodation. Happening across the eerily quiet Bates Motel, which has ď12 cabins, 12 vacancies,Ē Marion meets owner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a shy but well-meaning young man whoís excited by the prospect of a female visitor. However, Normanís jealous mother, who lives in a creepy old house overlooking the establishment, does not take kindly to Normanís attraction to Marion...
††† Many factors can be attributed to the success of Psycho, but the creative marketing campaign most certainly helped. Indeed, Hitchcockís name alone was enough to sell plenty of tickets, but the maestro took it one step further. Cinema staff were not permitted to let patrons enter a screening after the movie had started, and advertisements encouraged audiences not to spoil any of the twists, on top of the fact that Hitchcock purchased every copy of Blochís novel he could find to limit the bookís availability and thus keep the storyís secrets under wraps. The virtuoso filmmaker truly wanted audiences to see the film with fresh, unaware eyes, which gave Psycho the power to shock, terrify and amaze in a way thatís nearly impossible to accomplish in this age of internet gossip and spoilers. Even though the movie was almost unanimously panned by critics at the time of its initial release, hundreds of people queued up outside cinemas for hours, and Hitchcockís masterpiece fast became a nationwide phenomenon, grossing an estimated $32 million in America alone against its meagre $800,000 production budget. (Adjusted for inflation, Psychoís gross is equal to approximately $350 million in 2015.)
††† Despite being one of the motion pictures most associated with Hitchcock, Psycho is something of an anomaly for the filmmaker, as itís removed from the low-key mysteries, elegant romances and grand-scale espionage thrillers that constitute the majority of his filmography. And that was, of course, Hitchcockís intention. Whatís particularly ingenious about Psycho is its narrative edifice, with Hitchcock and screenwriter Joseph Stefano creating a horror that defies expectations with utter glee. The shocking final revelation has lost none of its power, but itís also the repercussions of the iconic shower scene that stunned audiences back in 1960. Hitchcock deliberately lulls you into thinking that an entirely different story will unfold, only to pull the rug out from underneath you with the early exit of Marion Crane and the sudden shift in narrative focus. Itís all pulled off so eloquently by Hitchcock, who favours twists over out-and-out violence.
††† Despite the advancing popularity of colour film, Hitchcock deliberately chose to lens Psycho in black and white, feeling that the movie would simply be too gory in colour. The monochrome photography is a masterstroke, enhancing the movieís shocking impact and sense of horror. But itís the sense of atmosphere which really makes Psycho unforgettable, with John L. Russellís eye-catching cinematography making superlative use of shadows, creating unease during scenes set at the ominous Bates Motel. Furthermore, Hitchcock was something of a cinematic magician, with violence being implied rather than simply shown, using trick shots and montage. Especially during the shower scene, you believe youíve witnessed more than whatís actually on the screen - the knife is never actually seen penetrating skin, with creative angles, expert editing and realistic sound design prompting our minds to fill in the blanks. Itís simply superb craftsmanship, turning the scene into a cinematic masterclass that continues to be studied. But Psycho would not be as memorable as it is without Bernard Herrmannís riveting original music. The screaming strings still send a chill down the spine, with the filmís intensity and horror confidently amplified by the accompanying soundtrack.
††† Say what you will about Psychoís content in this day and age, but audiences back in 1960 were not prepared for such a disturbing motion picture. Even in 2015, the movie has bite, which is all the more impressive considering the restrictions of the period. Psycho was released before films were actually rated; in 1960, motion pictures simply had to be approved for release. Hitchcock was therefore treading on eggshells, pushing the censorship envelope to see exactly how much he could get away with as he dabbled in cinematic taboos. On top of the obvious violence, Psycho also features a toilet being flushed, denoting the first time in cinematic history that a toilet was visible in a motion picture. Furthermore, the film shows unmarried people engaging in a sexual affair, as well as voyeurism, schizophrenia and transvestism, not to mention Marion is a thief, and Janet Leigh is glimpsed in her underwear on more than one occasion. Psycho really was a breakthrough at the time.
††† Leigh earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marion Crane, which was well deserved, but Perkins was inexplicably overlooked by the Academy. Bates is one of the greatest all-time horror icons, and Perkinsí portrayal is note-perfect. In Blochís novel, Bates was a bald, middle-aged fat man, but Stefano felt that such a character would be hard to sympathise with, choosing to write the role for a younger performer. Perkins nails it, exhibiting plenty of boyish charm and coming across as hugely sympathetic. You feel sorry for Norman, whoís the furthest thing from a vindictive horror villain imaginable, and itís impossible to imagine anybody else embodying the role as skilfully as the late Perkins. The remainder of the actors hit their marks respectably, with the likes of John Gavin, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam making a good impression in their respective roles, but Psycho is Perkinsí show.
††† It took a lot of effort in post-production to truly bring Psycho to life, with Hitchcockís beloved wife Alma (a former editor) reportedly assisting in the cutting process. Even though some have complained about an extensive psychiatric explanation in the final scene, I personally have no issue with it, especially with the haunting note that the movie closes on. Slasher flicks released since Psycho may be gorier and more graphic, but Hitchcockís film remains untouchable precisely because of what the master director was able to accomplish in a stricter era of film censorship. In 2015, the movie succeeds thanks to its fine performances, nuanced characters, brilliant narrative and superlative technical presentation. It is a must-see.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
† † Universal's release in America lacks the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode. A win for local.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|