Dave’s Favorite Horror Movies: #3 – Psycho [VIDEO]
In the run-up to Halloween, I thought I’d lay out my favorite horror movies of all time. Now, I have a couple of changes from previous lists.
First, I no longer call this a list of the five scariest movies of all time because they’re excellent films and I’ve watched them a number of times for THAT reason. So they don’t “scare” me anymore. But I deeply appreciate how they CAN scare someone. Naturally, I’d love to see them all again as if I were watching them for the first time, but that’s not happening.
Second, there are a couple of movies in my list that some might not regard as “horror” films. One is also a science fiction movie. Another could legitimately be called a crime drama. Well, actually, three others could be. But, they are also all, in my opinion, horror movies.
And here's another great one at #3.
It seems like Alfred Hitchcock is almost as popular a film topic as Abraham Lincoln these days. There's The Girl, currently running on HBO, and the movie about the filming of Psycho, scheduled for later this year, simply entitled Hitchcock.
Coincidentially, it's Psycho that occupies third place on my list.
For just over $800,000, Alfred Hitchcock gave the world one of its most enduring classics; it's easily one of the most famous films ever made. Part of Hitchcock's genius was to shoot the film using the crew from his weekly TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, instead of a big flashy film crew. He believed that the simpler, bare-bones production values would give this twisted nightmare a level of authenticity that might not be achieved with a bigger crew and bigger budget.
He was right.
His screenplay was equally stripped down. No "big" acting scenes for anyone. In fact, there are barely any raised voices at all throughout the movie's runtime. But the biggest trick he played on us all was convincing us that this movie was simply going to be about a woman named Marion Crane--played by Janet Leigh--who steals $40,000 from her boss and then goes on the run.
Leigh was a big star in 1960, and audiences had no idea what to expect in the last half of the film. Hitchcock famously allowed no footage not containing Janet Leigh to be shown in the film's trailer. So when Marion Crane arrives at the Bates Motel and is greeted by manager and desk clerk Norman Bates--played by Anthony Perkins giving the creepiest performance in movie history--audiences had to wonder why so much time was spent on a conversation between Norman and Marion in the little room behind the desk--the little room with all those stuffed birds and that low ceiling.
It had to have crossed their minds, "Where is this going?" "Why are we here?" And, then, of course...
She takes a shower.
Again, I've seen all these movies so much, that it's hard to be scared by them just because of the repetition. But I do watch them repeatedly because of moments like the ones in Psycho. Part of its greatness is knowing how Hitchcock manipulated the audience moreso than any director in history, in my opinion.
In fact, I could watch it again, right now.