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Psycho (1960)

We all go a little crazy sometimes

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 109 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

‘Psycho’ is the original great horror movie. It’s the ultimate spine-tingler, the definitive creep-show, the perfect chiller. But it’s also much more than that: ‘Psycho’ is the reason why people these days always lock the bathroom door when taking a shower. Well, that and fear of having someone walk in and see our botties, that is.

Anthony Perkins takes a career-defining role as motel-owning loner Norman Bates. His hobbies are taxidermy, talking incessantly about his dear old mum, and knifing visitors to death. Clearly he’s quite a catch, but there’s little chance of romance on the cards when he treats his latest visitor – Janet Leigh as cash-embezzling Marion Crane – to the stabby-stabby treatment.

Unfortunately for our Norm, things start to escalate out of control when Marion’s friends and family – as is probably to be expected – become a little worried and decide to hire a private investigator (Martin Balsam) to find out what the devil happened to her. It’s a good job there’s plenty of room in that swamp at the back of the motel.

From master of mystery Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Psycho’ is the sort of film that’s simply impossible to forget about. Of course we all know the plot’s big revelation by now, but it’s only as well-known as it is because it’s so heavily cemented in the top handful of all-time great twists (perhaps matched only by Darth Vader’s whole “I am your father” spiel in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and Chucky Heston slumping on the beach in ‘Planet of the Apes’). What’s interesting upon watching it today is that, even knowing exactly what’s going to happen, the film has lost little of its effect.

This isn’t a gory film, and what few instances of violence take place with relatively little actual on-screen violence. In fact, it contains just three big shocks, with the rest of the 110-minute running time devoted to setting scenes, building suspense and playing with our minds. But those three shocks comfortably better practically anything from the modern day canon of horror fair – Hitchcock sees to that nicely.

It's Got: Proof that crime doesn’t pay.

It Needs: A nice new dress – and perhaps some moisturiser – for dear old mumsie.

DVD Extras Production notes, cast and director filmographies, and a trailer (featuring “the fabulous Alfred Hitchcock” mumbling his way around what looks like “a quiet little motel”). DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


Whatever will mother say?