Psycho is based on a book of the same name by Robert Bloch. During its writing, Bloch was living 35 miles away from real-life murderer Ed Gein, a serial killer who flayed his victims in what psychiatrists believe was an attempt to make a skin suit so he could pretend to be his dead, domineering, puritanical mother. It’s often claimed that Psycho was inspired by Ed Gein. Not so; he wasn’t caught until just before the book was finished. It’s just a horrifying coincidence. Sleep well!
Psycho the movie is, of course, a master-class in suspense. Alfred Hitchcock reinvented how to scare people with movies, and he did so with such precision and effectiveness that the films he made are still the gold standard 50 years later. Psycho puts you, the viewer, in such tight contact with its actors that you almost can’t breathe; it’s like you’re physically in the room with the spooky, alien Anthony Perkins and poor, desperate Janet Leigh. And the cold nonchalance with which it documents the aftermath of its violence is almost more shocking than the violence itself. It was made in 1960, and it will still scare the pants off you.
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