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Psycho
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Reviews & Ratings for
Psycho More at IMDbPro »

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42 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Astonishing!

7/10
Author: ice-15 from phil
26 December 1999

At last! i had already seen the movie i had been dying to see. Psycho is probably one of the best horror movies that makes sense ( take note ). Anthony Perkins is great as the mama's boy Norman Bates with his ultimate freakish character and suspensful smile. This movie, although not as violent as i expected to be, is extraordinarily intense in a way that it produces a psychological effect on its viewers. Since the beginning, tension already builds up as the spine-chilling sound of strings being sawed off its neck. An absolute must-see ( if you dare ) 9/10

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Souled Out

10/10
Author: drax_hugo87
3 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What else can one write about a film that has been expounded by numerous film scholars? We all know about the famous shower scene, don't we? But there's so much more to "Psycho" than that. It works well as a psychological thriller but if one understands the psyche of "Psycho" it works remarkably as a horror movie (notwithstanding that we are immune to on-screen gore now).

There is a reason why director is considered to be the most important person in a movie. We have heard about the legend of Hitchcok - the great director. The same story could have been rendered to a derivative b-movie by an average director but Hitchcock took it to unforeseen greatness. He made a great use of Robert Blotch's book. Where else would you see a mainstream suspense-horror film put on the highest pedestal of cinema?

There's no emptiness in a Hitchcock film. Every scene has a purpose and underlying meaning. There could be a meta-movie on the relationship between two sisters, who we never see together on screen for the obvious reason. We get a hint of their possibly strained relationship at the end. But it's done very offhandedly, very skilfully by the master. The possibilities of analyses are endless.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Hitchcock masterpiece—thanks to Bernard Herrmann

10/10
Author: J. Spurlin from United States
7 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Psycho" ranks second on a list of Alfred Hitchcock's four masterpieces, following "Vertigo" and followed by "North by Northwest" and "Rear Window," which ranks number four only because it lacks a Bernard Herrmann score. While Hitch's camera is always the best feature of his films, Herrmann is the artist who puts three of them over the top and into the realm of true greatness—setting them beyond such near-great movies as "Notorious" and "Strangers on a Train," which both had good scores, but nothing like the sublime and haunting music of this film. There is no underestimating Hitchcock, nor the work of Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, who play the film's two main characters; but without Herrmann this could not have been a great movie.

The opening scene is the best place to appreciate both Herrmann and Hitchcock. Joseph Stefano's script is extremely well-structured and it was his idea to make Marion Crane the story's main character, before switching over forty minutes later to Norman Bates. (In the original novel, Robert Bloch dispatches Mary Crane much sooner.) But his dialogue is often stilted, and the opening scene, where Marion and Sam Loomis (John Gavin) share a lunchtime tryst in a cheap hotel, is badly written. The fault is made worse by Gavin, whose performance is stiff and awkward throughout, nowhere more than here. Yet this scene is among the glories of the movie, with the camera, the music and Janet Leigh's performance all giving it an aching poignancy that haunts our minds long after the film is over. Our sense of Marion's longing and frustration, which could not be conveyed by Leigh alone, is necessary for us to understand why she commits the rash act of stealing money from her boss's client. Watch how much is conveyed to us by the camera when Marion suddenly rises from the bed. Listen how much is conveyed by Herrmann's music when Sam spreads out his hands in mock-surrender and says, "All right." The scene as written would seem unworkable in other hands; in the hands of Herrmann and Hitchcock (and Leigh) it becomes masterly.

Gus Van Sant's remake, a fascinating failure, helps us appreciate many things about this film, including the performances—even, perversely, the performances of Gavin and Vera Miles, who plays Marion's sister, Lila. Gavin is incompetent and Miles is thoroughly competent, but both have the same effect on us: we don't care about them. Or rather, we would be bored by them if they were doing anything other than solving the mystery of Marion's disappearance. Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore give these bland characters more dimension, and in doing so, annoy us with their distracting personalities. Characters that are deliberately featureless often excite our imaginations more than ones that are full of tedious quirks. As is so often true with old movies, their "faults" prove to be virtues when remakes attempt to correct them.

Oddly, I vividly remember everything about the Van Sant film, except for Vince Vaughn's performance as Norman Bates; I only remember that at the time I thought it was excellent. Anne Heche, by contrast, was memorably awful, especially in the one scene that enhances our appreciation of Janet Leigh. When Marion is in her apartment alone (and without any monologue), packing her things and worrying about her mad plan, Leigh conveys all the anxiety in her decision with a minimum of affectation. But Heche not only makes the putrid decision to play the scene as if she is half-amused by her own craziness; she conveys this idea with the maximum of overplaying, as if she were compensating for her lack of dialogue with broad gestures and eye-rolling. Leigh shows us how she feels; Heche announces it over a megaphone.

Anthony Perkins' performance as Norman Bates is among the most memorable ever recorded on film. He is sympathetic and frightening; innocent and malign; horrifyingly unlike us and even more horrifyingly like us. Stefano gives him the best lines; and Hitchcock's camera is preternaturally adept at drawing us into his world when necessary and then coldly keeping us distant when needed. Yet with all this, how much more than a satisfying thriller with a clever trick ending could "Psycho" have been without Herrmann's score to help it transcend itself? Could Norman Bates have haunted us as much with a merely excellent score, like the ones for "Strangers on a Train" and "Frenzy"? Neither Bloch nor Stefano is Shakespeare, and Norman Bates does not live on the page, as Macbeth, Edmund and Iago do. Could Norman Bates, like Shakespeare's characters, live for four-hundred more years? If he survives, it will have been the joint genius of Perkins, Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann that rendered him, and his story, an immortal nightmare.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Nobody Does It Better Than Hitchcock

10/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
21 January 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Throughout his long and illustrious career, director Alfred Hitchcock thrilled and captivated audiences everywhere, but never before or since as well as he did with the psychological chiller, `Psycho,' which introduced the cinematic world to a guy named Norman Bates. And now-- forty years later-- even in an age of jaded, desensitized sensibilities, graphic horror and the likes of Hannibal Lecter and `American Psycho,' Hitchcock's masterpiece remains, even after repeated viewings, truly frightening and intrinsically disturbing. Just as Ingmar Bergman did with his character of Karin in his landmark film, `Through A Glass, Darkly,' Hitchcock presents a character (Bates) at the psychological crossroads of his life, a pivotal juncture wherein he is required to make a conscious decision that will determine the course of the rest of his life: Whether to reach for the light (and healing), or succumb to the voices beckoning to him from the dark, a place from which there will be no return. Norman, however--like karin-- is incapable of making that decision, and ultimately must adhere to the resolution of the subconscious, which takes him past the point of no return and subsequently beyond the reach of any help forevermore. The rest of the characters in the story-- Marion Crane, Lila, Sam Loomis, Arbogast-- are all mere pawns who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and are forced by fate to help play out the drama of Norman's twisted existence. Janet Leigh gives a memorable performance as Marion, creating a character that was not only destined to go down in cinematic history, but one that would make women everywhere afraid to shower at a motel. Vera Miles is effective as Marion's sister, Lila, and John Gavin gives credibility to Marion's lover, Sam Loomis. Martin Balsam gives a solid performance as well, as Arbogast, the ill-fated Private Eye whose encounter with Norman's mother on the stairs is a scene nearly as famous as that of Marion's `shower.' But the real star of the film is, of course, Anthony Perkins, who gives an Oscar worthy performance as Norman Bates, a character even more chilling than Hannibal Lecter, in that his outward appearance is so deceiving, so contrary to the evil dwelling behind his unintended facade of normalcy. His gentle countenance and boyish charm are so `real' that after being exposed to him it forever after makes anyone and everyone you encounter in your own life suspect. And Perkins plays him to perfection, in arguably the best (and definitely the most memorable) performance of his career. The supporting cast includes John McIntire (Sheriff Chambers), Simon Oakland (Dr. Richmond), Vaughn Taylor (George Lowery), Frank Albertson (Tom Cassidy), Lurene Tuttle (Mrs. Chambers), Patricia Hitchcock (Caroline), John Anderson (Charlie) and Mort Mills (Highway Patrolman). If there was any doubt by the time this film was made, `Psycho' once and for all proved that Hitchcock was, indeed, the Master of Suspense. There have been many imitators before and since, but all of them, good and bad alike, only serve to point out that nobody does it better than Hitchcock. I rate this one 10/10.

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12 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Technical excellence, at it‘s best.

10/10
Author: THE FRA from St. Petersburg, Fl.
16 January 2000

Ever wonder what the movie history would be like, if the "genius" of Hitchcock, were never brought to silver screen? Aside from the story line, the cast, and the acting, the highest point of this film, to myself, is the camera direction. Being a past film and tv school grad', all I can say is, this one is a masterpiece. The angles and the way he let's the camera, lead or suggest to the viewer, the next scene,is alone, among the best direction of any movie. To see what I‘m saying, when next shown, turn the volume off, and just let the camera , under his direction, tell you the story. I believe one will get a different understanding of this film, and a greater appreciation of the director.

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14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

a classic, but hardly Hitch's best

Author: Dtkoyzis from Ontario, Canada
12 February 2001

The first time I saw this film I was quite disappointed. So much of it has become cliché in the four decades since its release, including the famous shower scene, Perkins' oedipal relationship with his mother, and even Bernard Herrmann's unsettling score. I had known the identity of Perkins' "mother" even before I saw the film and had to be told by a sibling that the audience was not supposed to be aware of this up to the last. It was like knowing the punch line in advance and not really getting the joke once it was actually told. It is, to be sure, a tribute to Hitchcock that this film has become so much a part of North American popular culture, but the downside is that the element of shock that so affected audiences back in 1960 is almost entirely lost on a later generation of viewers. One thus has to imagine what it would have been like to see it during its first run in the movie theatres.

Had I been there at its opening, I think I would still have judged this film to be inferior to the string of excellent Hitchcock offerings preceding it during the previous decade–from "Strangers on a Train" to "North by Northwest." Why? So much of his previous work had relied on the use of suspense to draw the viewers into the plot. A good thriller builds this up carefully and deliberately until the final climax at or near the end of the film. Good suspense leaves much unstated and works its way subtly into the imagination. It's what you don't see that's the scariest. Think, for example, of the murder in "Rear Window." You hear a crash and a short, shrill scream followed by ominous silence, but you're not really sure what's happened until much later. Here, on the other hand, Hitch kills off his heroine brutally near the beginning of the film, leaving little if anything to the imagination, and largely putting aside the issues we had been misled to think the plot was building up to.

Moreover, despite Hitch's tongue-in-cheek claim that he had intended it as a comedy, there is little of the director's famous humour so much in evidence in the immediately preceding film, "North by Northwest." There is not much humour to be found in shock, while there is great humorous potential in suspense. He should have stuck with suspense and left shock to a lesser director.

I alluded to Herrmann's score. Without it, I think this would have been judged a far less effective film and less the classic it is generally reputed to be. Imagine Leigh driving along the highway without the composer's jittery music in the background–or, perhaps more accurately, the foreground. In such scenes it is the music that almost entirely creates the suspenseful atmosphere. Without it there is nothing of the sort–just Leigh driving and looking in her rear view mirror. Period. Not very scary.

Is it a classic then? It is, insofar as it influenced a whole generation of movie-goers and film makers who sought to imitate it. But on its own merits, I don't think so.

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18 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

From the point of view of a Media Student

10/10
Author: James Paterson (patmandude@hotmail.com) from Manchester, England
2 December 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am an A-Level student studying this film for part of my total grade. There is so much you can get from this film, as can be seen by anyone who has watched the film. This was the first film to be made where people couldn't come in halfway through and then watch the end, followed by the start. There is, of course, the perhaps urban myth of Hitchcock being phoned by a desperate cinema manager telling him that there was a queue round the block, it was raining, and could he let them in? Hitchcock, undaunted, made him buy everyone umbrellas.

Hitchcock himself called Psycho a comedy, and it has comic sections in it, although it is an extremely black comedy. At the end, you really don't expect the psychiatrist, when asked if Norman killed those people, to say "Yes...."turn of head, raise of eyebrow"and no!". This made the entire cinema, consisting fully of A-Level students, laugh. You don't expect half of the things that happen in the film to happen, but that doesn't make it necessarily bad. Of course, there was the 3 sequels including a made for TV one, and practically everyone had a go directing, including Perkins himself. Mind you, no-one can beat the master.

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38 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

A horror masterpiece

Author: Gabriel Francisco (videoman2@hotmail.com) from Tennessee, USA
28 July 1999

This is one of the most well-crafted horror film of all time. I can't say much about this film that hasn't already been said, so I'll just say it is eerie, suspenseful, and well-told. With this, Hitchcock became one of the best directors ever. 5/5 stars.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Psycho, The Great Cinematic Poem

10/10
Author: stian bekkvik (sbekkvik@gmail.com) from Norway
22 November 2014

The strings of Bernard Herrmann combined with the screams of Janet Leigh, the knife of Norman Bates and the cuts of Alfred Hitchcock makes the movie moment that penetrated pop culture like no other.

My impression is that Psycho is perceived as purely a great piece of craft and entertainment, but in my mind what makes Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho such a singular work is the deep and personal poetry it contains.

Hitchcock was completely fearless in his ideas at this point. He makes his most radical and innovative film. The movie is heightened from his famous thrillers to a pure and modern horror movie. The visual universe is now dirty and grim as opposed to beautiful and glamorized. The icy and sophisticated blonds are gone and there are no traces of sympathetic heroes.

Everyone who has seen an interview with Alfred Hitchcock knows that he hides behind an inflated and parodic character. In his interviews he is very secretive and doesn't revel anything about himself. The opposite is true in his films. In his movies he is often completely open and naked. He exposes the most shameful truths about himself and his life. In Psycho he does a personal examination on a level beyond anything I've ever seen. He puts himself in the space where he is the most vulnerable. He offers a "peeping hole" into the darkest corners of his personality. The movie is extremely revealing, but in very subtle ways. One has to work to find the treasures of Psycho.

Psycho is like a novel in the way images are often suggested and has to be completed in the heads of the audience. The sexual and violent scenes are never explicit. This makes the movie even more disturbing than it ever could be if we had seen the images, and this was also the only way Hitchcock could convey what he wanted to convey and still get past the ridiculously strict American censorship laws of the time.

Sexuality is always a theme in a Hitchcock movie, but he never explored it as profoundly or intimately as he did in Psycho. The shower scene for example feels like a rape as much as it does a murder(the feeling intrusion, the nakedness and so on). Norman desperately desires Marion Crane. He is sexually satisfied by killing her(it might be a stretch, but I see the knife as a symbol of the male sex organ). This scene is all about the childish shame of Normans sexuality. Norman, or the mother side of him, tries to suppress his sexuality completely. This is one of the examples of the openness of Hitchcock in this movie. His catholic upbringing would suggest a lot of shameful sexuality in his life as well. Something he has in common with his biggest contemporary director hero, Luis Bunuel. Bunuel are one of very few directors who explored his own sexuality with anything close to the amount of honesty of Psycho.

Psycho is such a rich movie. It is filled with details. I believe you could watch it fifty times over and still find something new the fifty first time you watch it. Pay for example attention to all the little symbols and metaphors scatterd all over every single frame. Notice all the fascinations or "fetishes" of Hitchcocks that he put into it. The stuffed birds and the way they mirror Normans mother. The way food and eating connects with murder and sex. The peeping hole as a symbol for voyeurism and the movie camera. The cellar as a symbol of the suppressed and the shameful truths about Norman Bates. I really want to go into all these details, but like I said, there are too many and too much to discuss. It wont fit into the format of an IMDb review...

If you don't see the same things I do in this movie, please watch it again. Even more than the magnificent "Vertigo" Psycho has the ability to grow immensely on a second viewing, and continue to grow on the third, fourth, fifth, sixth... In my heart it has grown to be one of the absolute best films in movie history.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant Classic!

10/10
Author: rivardoman
28 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's hard to think of a thriller more well known than Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho! Unfortunately the films popularity may spoil the shock value. Upon seeing the film for the first time I thought knowing the outcome may make the experience less enjoyable. This was not the case! I now see why Psycho is considered masterpiece! Hitchcock is a master of suspense. As the film begins, the plot immediately makes the audience uncomfortable. As Marion Crane makes off with the money, I had no idea what would happen next. Hitchcock adds in various ideas that lead me astray and even stress me out. When the police officer was questioning Marion and began to follow her, I felt her anxiety. Also when she was rushing the car salesmen I felt uneasy. This is great film-making. The emotions that Hitchcock draws out don't exactly correspond with the direct plot. After all we haven't even met the infamous Norman Baits yet and already I am on the edge of my seat with anticipation.

We arrive at Baits Motel as the rising action rolls into the main plot. What an astounding actor Anthony Perkins is! Perfect casting for a psychopathic mamma's boy! He is an actor that truly understands his role. When he peers through the hole in the wall, spying on Marion you can almost tell the moment when the mother personality clicks on. The only thing that I could have found more satisfying would have been if we saw Norman doing his mothers voice.

I love Hitchcock's style. When Marion was stopped by the police officer the way he shot the actors close-up really gave me the impression of invaded personal space and added to my discomfort. He also had great techniques for moving the camera into may different positions without cutting. When the camera follows Norman Bates up the stairs to his mothers room the camera does a 360 as it climes and we are left with the perspective of a bug on the wall.

Psycho is a classic horror/thriller that I will watch again. It provides an outstanding cast and fantastic cinematography. The timeless score that accompanies the film could not be any better.

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