Janet Leigh. Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock. 1960. Mr Quick Net, April 2015. Available: http://www.mrquick.net/2015/04/the60sbazaar-janet-leigh-on-set-of.html
The word Psycho can be interpreted in many ways, especially during a horror/thriller film. For anyone who has seen Psycho or knows the plot/story line will have a basic knowledge of the film. Hitchcock not only allows us to see how we perceive killers as psycho’s but he also goes deeper, towards the end of Psycho, once they have captured Normal and revealed him as the killer a psychiatrist gives an in depth description of why Norman did what he did.
Let’s not forget that the film is not only about the deep regret of someone stealing money to give herself a better life with the man she loved but it was also, to me a film of understanding about multiple personality disorders, in which Norman imitated his diseased mother who he in fact killed years before because he was pushed over the edge with her emotion abuse.
Hitchcock filmed Psycho in a way that I did not expect. I was made to believe that Norman’s mother Norma was alive and that she wasn’t dead. Hitchcock filmed murder scenes in a way we could not fully see her face, which at the end if we had we would of been able to tell it was Norman. This changed the way I feel about the film. It was very clever how Hitchcock could control my understanding like that with the use of camera angles, lighting and styling.
The sound used, particularly the murder scenes are very sinister. You know something is about to happen in the film so your emotion starts to change which gives you a connection to the film. The sound adds to the horror/torture the victims are going through and also the horror/torture we go through watching the films. 9
The film offers some great motifs such as the very conventional, still to this day ‘Blonde Bombshell’ who is a main character/damsel in distress. Janet Leigh plays Marion in Psycho. Hitchcock supposedly had an obsession with Blonde Women and most of his lead roles in his films have been just this.
Psycho holds one of the most infamous scenes in movie history. The shower scene is said to be the start of slasher films. Hitchcock’s use of camera angles not only allow us to see what’s going on but it’s gives us so many different points of view. He does not use one camera, he cuts back and fourth with different shots, close ups, wide shots, low shots, high shots. The irony to this scene is that Marion was in fact going to return the money, the shower was almost a representation of her freeing herself of regret, washing away her memories and hoping she could return to normal once back at home but she never got the chance.
One scene that caught my eye every time was when the camera focused on Norman’s house at the back of the motel. The camera angle’s used make us feel over powered, the house looks enormous, dark and creepy and allows us to understand the horror inside the house. I noticed the lighting was always very dark in these scenes, also a representation of what the house, housed and it’s clear messed up story.
The Bates House. Psycho, Hitchcock. 1960. Codwell Banker Blog. The Bates Motel Home. Available: http://blog.coldwellbanker.com/the-bates-motel-home-the-scariest-movie-home-of-all-time/
The last scene I loved was when Marion’s sister decided she had to go to the Motel and get answers about her sisters disappearance, while her sisters lover distracted Bates, she snuck into the house but Hitchcock filmed it in a very dramatic way. The camera cut from frame to frame with different points of view, create such suspense.
Location-The Bates Motel, just off the old highway- Norman Bates could not emphasize this enough. The location of the Motel alerted me straight away, a beautiful, young woman all alone in a deserted motel with a creepy, controlled man? No thank you. Now, with how common this location can be in horror’s we instantly know something sinister is about to happen, but we love it. We reference motels we see in everyday lives as ‘Oh you wouldn’t want to be there alone’ this is because we have had fear impaled on our brains from horror films causing us some sort of fear.
Overall, I did and did not enjoy the film. I did get a little frightened during the scenes where ‘Mother’ was about to kill someone, but this was down to the lighting, camera angles and music after the shower scene. I found it very laughable and entertaining because in reality, if someone is stabbed there will be blood splatter but there was nothing during the shower scene except a close up of some brown/red water going down the drain pipe. The attack and the way it was filmed was brilliant but having something more realistic all those years ago probably was not available. I do think Hitchcock did a great job playing a mind game with me, if that was the intention of him.