Psycho (1960)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Oct-1999

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Production Notes
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, Dolby Digital 1.0
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 103:59
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Anthony Perkins
Vera Miles
John Gavin
Martin Balsam
John McIntire
Janet Leigh
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    You've seen the remake, now here's the original. In a very smart marketing move, the original Psycho was released after the release of the remake, thereby maximizing sales of the remake. I had mixed feelings about the remake, so it was with a great deal of interest that I watched this original version of the movie, less than a month after I reviewed the remake.

    Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is a struggling assistant in a real estate agency. She has a lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), who is in debt to his ex-wife. Once his debt is cleared, he intends to marry Marion. Marion's boss makes a big real estate sale, which the purchaser settles in cash, all $40,000 worth. Marion is entrusted with the task of taking this hefty sum of cash to the bank (in the remake, the cash amount has multiplied by a factor of 10), but temptation proves to be too much and she heads for Sam's residence. Along the way, she stops at the Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), which is where things go from bad to worse.

    How do the two versions compare? Well, for starters, the original is genuinely edge-of-your-seat thrilling whereas the remake is rather dull. This is despite the two versions being shot-for-shot identical. There is something about the original that is simply far more convincing, not the least of which is the characterizations of the principal players, which simply seemed wrong in the remake. The fact that the original is black-and-white adds to the tension markedly. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I had not seen the original version of this movie until I viewed this disc - the first time I saw this movie was last month when I reviewed the remake.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is an acceptable transfer of an older movie, without being anything remarkable.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was reasonably sharp and clear most of the time, with a small number of scenes exhibiting some film grain. Shadow detail was reasonable in the brightly lit shots, but lacking in the lower-lit shots. There was no low level noise in the transfer.

    The film is black-and-white, so no comments can be made about the colours.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. There was some image wobble present, especially early on in the movie, but I suspect that this was on the original print rather than something that was an issue with the transfer. In regards to film artefacts, there were some nicks and scratches that were visible at times, but they remained perfectly acceptable for a transfer of this vintage. Indeed, I was expecting to see more artefacts than were actually present. The opening logo and credits exhibited lots of film artefacts, but this settled down as the film proper began.

    English, French and Greek subtitles are available on this disc, and are selectable at all times. The packaging incorrectly states that the only subtitles on this disc are English.

Audio

    There are four audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 1.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0, French Dolby Digital 1.0, and Italian Dolby Digital 1.0. These are available no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The packaging incorrectly lists only English as being available on this disc.

    Dialogue was relatively clear and easy to understand given the compressed and frequency-limited monaural nature of this soundtrack. Significant hiss intruded into the dialogue at times.

    Audio sync was somewhat problematic with this disc. Early on, the sync wandered in and out, and then settled down for the majority of the movie until the very end, when the psychiatrist's speech was again significantly out of sync. This sync problem was the same on both my DVD player (Pioneer DV-505) and on my DVD-ROM setup (Panasonic SR-8583 and PowerDVD 2.0), so it is inherent in the disc. It is my belief that this is most likely inherent in the original print of the movie, but I would need to compare this version of the disc to the Region 1 version of this disc and thence to the movie to confirm that this is not a mastering error.

    The score by Bernard Herrmann is excellently suited to the on-screen action. The frequently strident and jarring strings add enormous tension to the proceedings.

    The surround channels were not used.

    The .1 channel was not used.

Extras

    There is a small but good selection of extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu is an unremarkable 4:3 menu.

Production Notes

    Extensive and very interesting to read.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Also extensive and interesting.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a fascinating mini-tour of the set of Psycho hosted by Alfred Hitchcock himself. It is very lengthy by today's standards, running 6:35, and gives away a significant amount of the plot. However, what is fascinating to see is what is not given away, and I think that this trailer is a superb enticement to see the film, and in fact probably would add to the suspense significantly, since you know something is going to happen in certain places, but you are not quite sure just how it happens.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is a Collector's Edition, and is heavily feature-laden.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     Normally, the lack of 16x9 enhancement on the Region 1 version of the disc would lead to me recommending the Region 4 version of this disc. However, with a movie such as this, the quality improvement afforded by 16x9 enhancement is likely to be minimal, and the additional extras on the Region 1 version of this disc make this the version of choice.

Summary

    Psycho (1960) is a great movie, and a superb thriller. Highly recommended despite the disc flaws.

    The video quality is acceptable given the vintage of the movie.

    The audio quality is poor, and sync is a problem.

    The extras are good but limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Friday, October 08, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVDownUnder - Matt G
DVD Net - Paul D (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)
Zone 4 DVD - Darren H
The Fourth Region - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
DVD 4 - Price P
AllZone4DVD - Wayne F
The DVD Bits - Allan H
region4dvd.net - Daniel R

Comments (Add)
2 versions available in Australia - REPLY POSTED
Comparison of R1 and R4 transfers? -
R1 vs R2 vs R4 picture comparison -
Special Edition Available - Dane S (Bio...were you expecting some smart alec remark?)