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Reviews & Ratings for
Psycho More at IMDbPro »

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Hitchcock makes a masterpiece

Author: the rock-17
30 August 1999

I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock. I have seen all of his movies, and think all of them are excellent. This one, however, is at the top of the food chain. Psycho is brilliant. Hitchcock gave this film excellent direction, and the acting was superb. Especially Anthony Perkins playing the role of Norman Bates. He always talked so fast, like he was nervous and anxious all the time. When he talked to Marion Crane about his mother, it gave me chills down my spine. "She just...she just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes." At that era, I don't think a better person could have delivered that line than Anthony Perkins. What makes this movie so great is its originality. Sure, there have been lots of films about "psychos," but this is pretty much the first one. The script was excellent, the acting was excellent, the direction was excellent, the cinematography was excellent, the music was excellent, the scenery was incredible, especially that dark old house where "Mother" lived. I could just go on and on about what a great movie this is. My grade: A+

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14 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

"A Psychiatrist Doesn't Lay The Groundwork ... He Merely Tries To Explain It."

Author: Michael Coy ( from London, England
30 December 2000

A respectable 30-year-old spinster steals $40,000 from her workplace and takes off on a solo car journey to nowhere. She makes the fateful mistake of staying overnight at the Bates Motel ...

There is a difference between a great film, where the cast and technicians seem inspired and the project is carried along on the energy of its ideas, and a merely good film, in which the cleverness is calculated, and the tricks are consciously inserted. "Psycho" is merely a good film.

But what cleverness! The incidental music of Bernard Herrman, Hitchcock's composer of choice, has a discordant, staccato leitmotif in the strings which repeats constantly, building almost hypnotically towards the shrill climax of the shower scene. Hitchcock deploys a battery of subtle devices to keep the viewer feeling vaguely uneasy. Sexual frankness was a shocking thing in a mainstream movie in 1960, and the opening scene (showing Marion's "extended lunch hour" with Sam) is so sexually honest that it cannot have failed to disturb contemporary cinema audiences. Faces are lit from below or the side, creating an inchoate sense of foreboding. Owls and ravens, traditional omens of evil, preside silently over Norman's parlour. The windshield wiper which fails to clear the rain is a symbol of Marion's guilty conscience.

The film's abiding mood is one of creepy uneasiness, and this is reinforced at every turn by Hitchcock's system of visual imagery. There is, of course, the Old Dark House, but far less obvious techniques are also at work. As Arbogast mounts the stairs, the camera retreats disconcertingly before him. The tines of the rakes in Sam's store are raised like bony, clutching fingers behind Lila's head. Marion's unblinking eyeball is compositionally echoed by the circular plughole, the water draining out as her life force ebbs away.

In the long dialogue scene between Norman and Marion ("We all go a little mad sometimes"), the rhythm of the cutting is exquisite. Sometimes we see the speaker, sometimes the listener, as the rapidity of the cuts forms a counterpoint to the text, and emphasises the discomfort of the characters (Marion wary but self-possessed, Norman outwardly affable but painfully shy).

The cinematic axiom, "Show it, don't tell it", is beautifully illustrated in the scene in Marion's bedroom. The camera closes in on the bundles of banknotes lying on the bed, then pans to the packed suitcase, telling us without the need for words that she has decided to take the money and run.

Then something puzzling happens. The film seems to lose all belief in its own precepts, and the rich visual symbolism is abruptly abandoned. Lila opines, "I'll feel better when all this is explained," but she is wrong. The explanation is a huge let-down. We get Dr. Simon, a psychiatrist, lecturing us at tedious length about Norman's condition. "Show it, don't tell it" flies out of the window. Maybe Stefano, the scriptwriter, realised that the running time was already over two hours and the thing needed its loose ends tied up rapidly. Perhaps the flat, prosaic ending is the price Hitch has to pay for the slow painstaking build-up in the early reels (it is almost half an hour before Norman makes it onto the screen). Whatever the reason, I for one found the closing section very disappointing.

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20 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Technique that defined an art

Author: Jerry_Horne from Seattle, WA
8 January 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This definitely contains **SPOILERS**, and is intended only for those who have seen the film, although it's hard to imagine many of you out there who haven't already seen this remarkable film.

Let's start with what is probably the most amazing scene in the film, the conversation between Norman and Marian in the motel office parlor. Anyone interested in learning how to develop dramatic, and/or psychological tension, should study this scene. Sharp dialog, mood swings, marvelous camera angles and great character reactions permeate the scene. Much of the scene, and it's darkly humorous lines, hint at the truth about Norman and his mother without actually revealing it. For example, as Norman is bringing the tray of food into the office for Marian after an argument with mother, he says, "My mother is ...what's the phrase...she isn't quite herself today". In the parlor while Marian eats, Norman defends his mother with, "We all go a little mad sometimes". And just before Marian leaves the office she tells Norman, "I stepped into a private trap back there. I'd like to go back and pull myself out of it...if it's not too late". The irony being that Marian may have decided to try to escape her trap, but she has already, unknowingly been ensnared in Norman's private trap. Yes Marian, it is too late.

In another sequence while Norman and Marian are talking in the parlor, the camera is at eye level on both characters. Suddenly, when Marian brings up the subject of Norman's mother, the camera angle changes. Norman is now being viewed from a lower angle. We are looking up at Norman and, in the background, his stuffed owl with it's wings spread, clearly in an attack posture. At the same time, we are now seeing Marian at slight downward angle. Norman has become the predator and Marian the prey!

Now, how about lighting? In a scene very near the end of the film, Marian's sister has made her way into the fruit cellar, lit by one bare bulb, where mother sits in a wheelchair. Lila touches her shoulder, the wheelchair swings around revealing mother's well preserved corpse. Lila screams and draws her hand back hitting the light bulb, causing it to swing wildly. The end result is that the remainder of the scene is played out in alternating light and shadow due to the swinging bulb: Lila's terrified face, mother's corpse, Norman running into the cellar in mother's clothes wielding a butcher's knife, Sam running in behind Norman and dragging him to the floor, Norman's face becoming a twisted mask of despair as the knife falls to the floor and the wig slips from his head. It all has the look of a nightmare...macabre, surreal, and sheer genius!

I have always loved Hitch's brand of humor, dark or otherwise. Here are some of my favorites from this film: Marian talking to Sam in the motel room at the beginning of the film, "You make respectability sound...disrespectful". Charlie the used car salesman, speaking to Marian, who is obviously intent on trading in her car, "First time I ever saw the customer high pressure the salesman". Arbogast, the private detective, speaking to Norman at the motel, "If it doesn't gel, it isn't aspic...and this ain't gelling". Norman speaking to Sam, after Sam has implied that Marian may have made a fool of him, "She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother". Lila to Sam, defending her decision to try to talk to Norman's mother, "I can handle a sick, old woman". How about the fact that Norman's hobby is stuffing birds, and in cleaning up mother's mess he stuffs a "Crane" into the trunk of a car. Classic Hitch!

Let me leave you with one last tidbit. In the final scene of the film Norman is sitting in a cell, wrapped in a blanket, and we hear mother's thought that is the last line of the film, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly". The scene then dissolves to a shot of Marian's car being dragged from the swamp. Just as Norman's image disappears from the screen, look closely and you will see the face of mother's corpse superimposed over Norman's face for a fraction of a second. One last little (subliminal?) chill from the master! I can see you all rushing to your VCR's now. Enjoy!

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41 out of 79 people found the following review useful:


Author: Christopher Owens from Belfast, Northern Ireland
26 December 1999

I just got this film for Christmas.Since it is black and white I thought I wouldn't be interested. How wrong I was. From the start of the film,it grabs you by the throat and drags you into the world of Norman Bates.Although the 'shower scene'has been spoofed in so many other films,seeing it for the first time is truely tense. Don't watch the remake,watch this,and read the book.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

My All Time Favorite Movie!!!

Author: Cj Geister
26 November 2014

Alfred Hitchcock's adaption to Robert Bloch's icy chilling novel Psycho is the greatest movie ever made (in my opinion). It is my all-time favorite movie. The Ending is the best part. Alfred Hitchcock did a amazing job of the film because, in my opinion, the book sucked. Anthony Perkins, and Janet Leigh played there roles (Norman Bates, and Marion Crane) amazingly. The Alfred Hitchcock cameo is visible, and very well to see. The effects look fake, but the film is still scary, and disturbing. Out of all, the black and white made the film better. But anyways, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho should have got a 9.0/10.0 stars because it's just an amazing film.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

My favourite film of all time!

Author: Michael Candeland from Liverpool, England
13 November 2014

By far the greatest work of The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. When I watched this film for the first time aged 16, I was sucked in by the plot, the characters, Bernard Herrmann's score and the terrific acting. I went in knowing one thing about the movie, and that was that there is a shower scene. It was the first Hitchcock film I'd ever seen and it was the first mystery/thriller I'd ever seen. Now I am a big fan of both Hitch and the genre.

The best aspect of this movie is the fantastic acting. What can you say that hasn't already been said about the performance of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates except that it's a tragedy he wasn't nominated for an Oscar. His delivering of the script, his shyness and sudden twists is one of the best acting performances I've witnessed. But that doesn't take away from the rest of the cast. Janet Leigh is wonderful Marion Crane, and supporting talent from John Gavin, Martin Balsam and especially Vera Miles, make for a film you can watch over and over.

This is the first film I ever saw where afterwards, I wanted to know everything there was to know about it. I watched all the making of documentaries I could find, I wanted to watch all the sequels (Psycho II is also very good by the way) and I even chose the film as my specialist subject in a quiz we did in my college.

I recommend this film to everyone. It's full of twists, turns and surprises that keep you guessing write till the end, and I mean the very end. You can't take your eyes of the screen. You're engrossed by these characters and the plot that you don't want to miss a second.

Suspenseful, sophisticated, chilling, thrilling and an absolute masterpiece of film making.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Author: john-hogan23 from Albany, New York
10 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a long line of great films, Psycho has got to be Alfred Hitchcock's most entertaining. Despite being a horror movie, and having its fair share of genuinely frightening moments, Psycho has always struck me as being made to have a certain lighthearted charm. I have to imagine when Alfred Hitchcock made this film he was having fun and wanted the film to be as fun for us as it was for him. It's one of my favorite scary movies, but when I look back to it I don't think of it at all like I do the others on the list. This movie is just a good time.

If Psycho was a person, and its fun, creepy atmosphere was its skin, and Anthony Perkins was its face I guess, Its structure would be a crazy adamantite skeleton and its pacing? Well, synthetic cyborg muscles of course. For a horror film to maintain the feeling it needs to keep its viewers attention in the events leading up to the scares, it needs to have a solid setup for the plot that goes on long enough for it to not feel rushed but not so overlong that it becomes boring and takes away from the impact of the scary moments it's building up to. It needs to be interesting enough to not feel like a chore, but still understand its role as a vehicle for the frightening moments in the films. The story takes a back seat to the scary stuff in a horror movie. The good ones understand this, but the best of them do it in a way that doesn't compromise the quality of the story. Psycho is a shining example of a balanced and well executed horror film narrative. It's the king of this technique. the events leading up to Marion Crane's trip to the Bates motel work exceptionally well, and her encounters with the police officers at the dealership and on the road do an amazing job of establishing the spooky feel of the film in a seamless way and work to keep the viewer interested in what's to come. The ease with which Hitchcock leads into the events that take place at the motel are a huge part of what allows him to make the film such a good time.

You can't sing the praises of Psycho without applauding the incredible work Anthony Perkins does as the film's criminally insane leading man- the one and only Norman motherloving Bates. Perkins' ability to personify a person with such a severe case of dissociative identity disorder is so unbelievably good you'd think this guy went home at the end of the day and lived life as Norman Bates instead of himself. Not only does he have such an intrinsic ability to play the psycho, but he does such an impeccable job of committing Norman's crimes as well. When he sneaks up on the woman in the legendary and absolutely immortal shower scene, he does so like he was made to be a movie monster, and when he rushes in to attack the detective to the sound of Bernard Herrmann's screeching soundtrack he could scare a banana straight out of its goshdang peel. And bananas don't even have eyes or ears or even watch movies in the first place.

I love this film. it's a champion of horror. In a genre where so many films can only be fun by sacrificing the scares or just by being low budget bargain bin Netflix dumpster movies, Psycho triumphs in its ability to conquer everything important to entertain horror fans. Alfred Hitchcock's talent is so palpable in this film it may just as well turn itself into a big spoonful of Bates flavored gelato and fly its way right into the brain mouths of everyone watching. Gelato only has half the calories of regular ice cream, too. You ever try it? It's like ice cream pudding. It's great. Just like this film.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Probably, the most terrific thriller made. A film that terrifies even 50 years after it's made.

Author: braddugg from India
4 May 2014

Probably, the most terrific thriller made. A film that terrifies even 50 years after it's made.

To pigeonhole this as a thriller would be wrong as per me. It has a murder mystery, a psychological thriller, a huge amount of drama, and even a family backdrop. With all such elements, it would be wrong if I were to categorize this as merely a thriller. Yes, it is filled with thrills and for the 110 minutes of running time, there is hardly any dull moment.

I have seen this movie, a number of times before and each time it had a terrific impact. Also, I have always found something new, maybe a new frame, new shot or a new background sound. The discovery does not seem to stop. This I attribute to the many elements that are involved in this film.

From placing the camera, composing the shot, revealing the right emotion and making the audiences wait till the shocking aspect is revealed, Hitchcock is at his best in this film. This is indeed one of the more simpler stories he dealt. Yet, he made it so impact full that it continues to surprise audiences even today. Thanks to the music by Bernard Hermann, whose contribution to the film is very important. I cannot imagine this film without the music and I believe that it's because of the music, that the resonance was acquired.

If it's the shower scene that is most talked about in this film, I believe there are couple or more scenes that are under rated yet very impact full. Now, I do not want to reveal those and give away some details. I can simply say, I was terrified by the climax shot where the mother is shown, more than anything else.

The cast is perfect equally, Anthony Perkins does a wonderful job as Norman Bates. He is cold blooded and yet looks so deceptively humane as an extremely caring human. This film and "The Trial" are perhaps the most important films in his career.

It is the first psychological thriller of it's kind as I read in various other sites and perhaps it is also the most violent films made. Though the violence comes for less than 10 minutes, it haunts so brutally, as if it was there all through the film.

It's a definite 5/5 for one of the finest films of all time by one of the greatest directors.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An amazing film

Author: alisonbrazil
20 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the best horror films that can stand the test of time. Psycho has amazing performances especially from Anthony Perkins.And the film also has the most famous scene in horror history.And Alfred Hitchcock throws in a twist in the end like most of his films,but this twist will stay with for a long time.Norman Bates is possibly one of the most terrifying movie villains in film history.The film keeps you on the edge of your seat for the whole film.But the last minute is possibly the most shocking end to a film. This film is such entertaining,awesome classic filled with intense moments and a jaw dropping twist that it is sure to keep the viewer scared for many years to come.An excellent film.10/10

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
19 April 2014

A masterpiece. The ultimate thriller, and the movie that created the template for slasher-horror movies.

Solid plot, but the genius behind this is Alfred Hitchcock's direction. Hitchcock builds the tension and constantly keeps you on your toes. His use of camera angles is superb. This, all while keeping the movie moving along at a brisk pace. At no stage does it drift, or get bogged down.

Hitchcock is aided by some excellent performances. Anthony Perkins is calculating menace personified as Norman Bates. Janet Leigh shines and deserved her Oscar nomination.

Truly a classic, and one of the greatest movies of all time.

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