Film & DVD Review: Psycho (1960)

Certification:Finland:K-16 (uncut) (1969) / Finland:K-16 (cut) (1960) / Finland:K-16 (cut) (1965) / Chile:14 (re-rating) / Chile:18 (original rating) / Iceland:16 / Germany:12 (re-rating) (2006) / West Germany:16 (original rating) / Netherlands:12 / Brazil:14 / South Korea:15 / Portugal:M/12 / Argentina:13 (re-rating) / Argentina:16 (original rating) / Australia:M / Canada:13+ (Quebec) / Canada:18 (Nova Scotia) / Canada:PG (Manitoba/Ontario) / France:-12 (re-release) / France:-16 / Israel:16 / Norway:15 / Norway:16 (1960) / Peru:14 / Spain:13 / Sweden:15 / Switzerland:16 (re-release) / UK:15 (video rating) (1986) / UK:X (original rating) / USA:Approved (original rating) / USA:M (re-rating) (1968) / USA:R (re-rating) (1984)

Running time: 192 minutes

Reviewed by David Kerr

Psycho DVD Cover

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Psycho. is credited as the movie that made horror respectable again. In the fifties horror and fantasy films were the stuff of ‘B’ movies; second features to the main film on the bill. They were not taken seriously. Psycho. changed that!

Psycho . was director, Arthur Hitchcock’s first horror picture. He was always the master of mystery and misdirection. Hitchcock always left cinema-goers guessing as to what was going to happen next. In Psycho., he completely misled the audience for the first half hour.

We think we are watching a straightforward crime story. Embezzler Janet Leigh runs off with $40,000 of company cash that she was supposed to lodge in the bank. Heading off to join her lover in California, she stops for the night in a quiet slightly rundown motel. This wasn’t her wisest move, especially when she decided to take a shower…

Hitchcock really piles on the suspense in Psycho. He had it shot in black and white deliberately so as not to fall foul of the censors. Bernard Herrman’s score is pefectly crafted to heighten the exhilaration of the chase as Leigh runs off with the cash and the suspense and menace that awaits her in the Bates Motel.

Anthony Perkins excels as the quiet, shy mummy’s boy motel keeper with a dark secret. Norman Bates and his mother have a special surprise for any guest unfortunate enough to stop for the night in their somewhat off-the-beaten-track motel.

Avoid the ill-advised sequels and the recent remake. Hitchcock’s original, now available in DVD, is the only one worth bothering about.

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