I don't like scary movies. Pet Cemetery was on cable the other night
and I could only make it through about 30 minutes before I had to turn
it off because I was getting too frightened.
However, I'm a sucker for the classics. So when I heard that Universal
was going to re-issue Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, I knew I was going to
have to buckle down and watch the dreaded Shower Scene one more time.
Re-issuing films is the latest craze these days. It all started with
the Star Wars re-issues last year, and the fact that the three movies,
touched up for a total of $3 million bucks, made over $250 million
domestically. That's a hefty of profit. Other re-issues followed, to
varying degrees of success. Grease, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard
of Oz all found some decent business in their newest lives. But none of
them boasted anything new except sharper, clearer sound and a cleaned up
Universal has upped the ante. They have colorized Alfred Hictchcock's
You've all seen Psycho, so I'm not gonna waste time by describing the
Oh alright, I will.
Marion Crane has stolen some money. As she runs from town, it begins to
rain and she pulls up into the Bates Motel for night. The owner of the
motel is Norman Bates. He has a mother. Mother is not herself these
days. Marion Crane dies in the shower. Then one by one a bunch of
other people come looking for her and they die, although not in the
The first question is, how does the horror-classic stand the test of
time? The answer, surprisingly well. Oh sure, the initial shock of
seeing the opening credits in green instead of gray throws you off, but
once you accept the vibrantly colorful opticals, the movie is what it
has always been, a masterpiece in horror.
In fact, it's amazing just how contemporary the movie looks, considering
that it was made in 1960. Anthony Perkins looks like someone out of the
movie Swingers. Janet Leigh's cropped hair-do makes this
morally-challenged and eventually mortally-wounded character look like
someone from the Lilith Fair, which adds to the sexually-deviant
undertones which are sprinkled throughout the movie.
Watching it, I almost got the feeling that Alfred was ahead of his
time. I mean yes, he was one of the greatest directors of his day, but
he really seemed to be making a movie not for his audience of the early
1960's, but for our audience. Now. Today.
OK, here's the big question, is it still a really scary movie?
Yes. I jumped a number of times. You know what's going to happen when
Leigh steps into the shower, and yet you still jump from the sheer
terror of it. The brilliant filmmaking which went into this still
evokes a scream of fright and delight as the naked woman slumps over
But the strength of this film has always been Anthony Perkins. Well,
Anthony Perkins and Alfred Hitchcock, but I'm focusing on Perkins right
now. It'd been a while since I'd seen the original, but Perkin's
performance was a bit creepier than I remembered. Which actually
saddened me, because I have this vague recollection that one of the
really great things about this movie was that Perkins seems like such a
nice boy. The madness hidden within him is all the more real because
he's able to hide it from everyone, including himself. But I guess that
was just something I added in my memory, because he's actually quite
creepy in this film. I don't know how I missed the masturbation sounds
when he's peering through the hole in the wall.
The one sign of wear on this film is the pacing. It is rather slow.
This isn't necessarily bad, but our MTV-addled minds have become used to
hack and slash camera movement, and there is none of that here. This
was made in the prehistoric days before the Steadicam, which makes a
number of the shots, especially the opening scene, even more
incredible. Hitchcock truly was a genius.
I feel silly giving Babylons to a classic, but I will anyway. For
today's audience Psycho gets 3 4/5 Babylons. I'm sure that if I were a
critic in the 1960's I'd give it a 4 or higher, but I'm not, so I
won't. Deal with it.
If you feel like a good old-fashioned scare, treat yourself to the
grand-daddy of horror films, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Just don't plan
to stay in any out of the way motels anytime soon.
I can't think of anything to say, except that I'm taking resumes.
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam and