Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, Patricia Hitchcock, John McIntire, Vaughn Taylor and Frank Albertson
12 and up
Marion Crane (Leigh) is an office worker who works for George Lowery (Taylor). One day, George asks her to bank in $40,000 given by Tom Cassidy (Albertson) for a property deal. Given the opportunity, she flees with the money and checks into a motel run by friendly yet jumpy Norman Bates (Perkins), who has a domineering mum. When Marion suddenly disappears, her sister Lila (Miles), Marion's lover Sam (Gavin) and Detective Arbogast (Balsam) try to hunt her down. However, Detective Arbogast is killed shortly finding Marion's last known location. Now, Sam and Lila ask help from a sheriff (McIntire). Will they be able to find Marion? Will they be able to find the killer?
Why it’s good:
What makes this the most classic horror films of all time? Well, there is the classic shower scene where the insane killer comes into the room and ends the life of Marion Crane.
The second thing is the eerie score by Bernard Herrmann which increases the tension between the characters and the entire plot, as well as its suspense. The suspense is more than the horror, the horror is mostly in the shower scene and the scary corpses.
The rest of the film is strictly Hitchcock and not much horror. It is more thriller than mystery of the Hitchcock side. When the ending is revealed, you’ll probably not believe the story. It is rather improbable for a normal person, but then, some people can learn to empathise Norman Bates’ situation.
Well, the film is the mother of all the classic horror films, you can say. This one inspired everything from this to “Don’t Look Now” (1973) and later “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. I believe this is the best, the freshest and the most original, and I hope it shall age well.
In the shower scene, real blood was not used, but rather Bosco Chocolate Syrup, still sold widely in Europe. This was Hitchcock’s last film for Paramount, though most of it was shot in Universal.
A lot for this movie. Two of the characters say they want to marry and kiss each other while dressing up for work. The shower scene suggests nudity, but no private parts are shown. It was skilfully done. Another character is stabbed while at someone’s house. A dead corpse/skeleton is shown in a cellar. Sam and Norman fight in the same location. Do not show this to toddlers. This film is not that appropriate for young children.
If you like this…:
See the Hitchcock chapter above to see the master’s finest works.