Psycho is a horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960 and is classed by many as being one of the greatest slasher films. The story revolves around a psychotic motel owner who is trying to hide the fact that he has murdered many of his customers.
Throughout the film, Hitchcock lead the audience on a guessing game and pulls us down routes of what he wants the viewers to think.""I was directing the viewers," the director told Truffaut in their book-length interview."You might say I was playing them, like an organ."" (Ebert, 1998). When we first encounter Bates, we start to feel as though he is a friendly character and feel sorry for him that he has to constantly take care of his mother. Little do we know that Bates is evil murderer. Hitchcock drops subtle hints of this in dialogue such as the conversation about putting Bates' mother in a home; Bates gets suddenly agitated and angry at the suggestion of an institution, this possibly suggesting that he has already experienced a place like that before.
Another factor contributing to the success of Psycho is is incredible musical score, "Bernard Herrmann's stabbing score, with its screeching atonal strings, which packs the real punch." (Kermode, 2010). This is especially true in the world famous shower scene. This scene would no where near have the same tension fueled effect if it was not accompanied by this score. The high pitch screaming fills your ear drums and makes every muscle in your body tighten. Hitchcock uses this to really throw the audience into the scene, it could make us feel the madness of the murderer or it could make us feel the blind fear of the victim.
Although some may consider the final explanation of the story from a doctor as an unsatisfactory ending to the classic, the ultimate shot of the Bates will stick with you forever. "His mind has been completely taken over by Mother, and he speaks to himself in her creepy voice" (Breslow, 2008). We are shown Bates sitting alone with an insane grin on his face until all of a sudden the skull of his deceased mother appears across the murderer. This is used to show that he his finally being taken over by the memory of his mother and that little sanity is left in the motel owner. The image of the glinting skull teeth will haunt every viewer for a lifetime.
Breslow, P (2008) Norman Bates: A Most Terrifying Mama's Boy http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91947125 (Accessed on 27/01/14)
Ebert, R (1998) Psycho Film Review http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-psycho-1960 (Accessed on 27/01/14)
Kermode, M (2010) Psycho: the best horror film of all time, In: The Guardian [online] http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/22/psycho-horror-hitchcock (Accessed on 27/01/14)
Figure 1, Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Poster] USA, Shamley Productions, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b9/Psycho_(1960).jpg (Accessed on 27/01/14)
Figure 2, Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Shamley Productions, http://thebacklot.mtvnimages.com/uploads/2013/10/psycho-norman-bates-anthony-perkins-taxidermy.jpg?quality=0.7 (Accessed on 27/01/14)
Figure 3, Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Shamley Productions, https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Arts/Arts_/Pictures/2010/3/29/1269881473433/1960-PSYCHO-001.jpg (Accessed on 27/01/14)
Figure 4, Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Shamley Productions, http://eng3122.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/600full-psycho-screenshot1.jpg (Accessed on 27/01/14)