Psycho 50th Anniversary review

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Psycho? Is it film maestro Alfred Hitchcock? Is it the music? Is it the eerie looking house sat on top of a hill? Is it that all important shower scene? Or maybe that sinister cry of “NORMANNNN!!!”

Psycho is one of the most culturally iconic and well-made horror thrillers of the past 50 years. Even if you haven’t seen the film, everyone would instantly recognise Psycho as its classic scenes and much paraded music score have become famous in their own right. From present day horrors to comedy parades – the genius of the story by Robert Block and Joseph Stefano matched with the imagery created by Hitchcock has been a constant source of inspiration to the entertainment industry.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the film it centres on the mysterious disappearance of bank assistant Marion Crane played by Hollywood legend Janet Leigh. Unsatisfied with her life, Crane decides to steel $40,000 from a wealthy business man. Her life packed into one suitcase, she makes off in her car into the wilderness hoping to create a new start. When the weather becomes too treacherous to drive any further, Crane decides to see the night out at a Motel off the beaten track. Enter the famous Bates Motel. Met by the slightly odd but gentlemanly motel owner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), Crane hires a room for the night.

On hearing the screechy voice of an old women bullying Norman from the house overlooking the motel. Crane takes pity on the lonely man and accepts an offer to have dinner with him. During the meal she learns that this mysterious voice belongs to Norman’s Mother. Unhappy with advice Crane gives on how to deal with his mothers constant abuse the relationship becomes uneasy and Marion retires to her motel room. Opening the way for that iconic shower scene. From here the story moves to the search for a missing person, centring on what really happened at Bates Motel on that rainy night.

There is very good reason why a film like this deserves the treatment of going back to the original film negative, painstakingly cleaning the print and recreating Hi-definition master. This is one of the greatest films of all time and should be available to audiences for generations to come. If you’ve never seen the film, then you’re in for a real treat. If you’re one of these people who are prejudice against black and white moves, I guarantee in minutes you’ll forget there’s no colour. The awkward chemistry between Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins makes way for wonderful character set pieces. Each actor delivers an unflawed performance; the audience really do hang onto every line of dialog, building an intense and uncomfortable environment preceding the shower scene.

The questioning of Norman by the PI hired to recover the money demonstrates what a talented actor the late Perkins really was. Perkins portrayal of a guilt ridden, nervous man backed into a corner is second to none. The restoration of the film is beautifully clear, with practically no blemishes. Unless of course you count the many things you can now see in this magnificently crisp presentation of the film. One blemish in particular is the obvious spot concealer on Janet Leigh’s face in the opening minutes of the film which couldn’t be seen before. Also, when lying dead on the floor the audience can now see from movement on Leigh’s neck that she is clearly still breathing! And if that’s not enough to convince you to purchase this Blu-Ray, the urban myth that is Leigh’s nipple is just that little bit clearer.

Added to the amazing picture quality, the masterminds behind this restoration have created an all new 5.1 Audio for the disc. Staying respectful and true to the original audio, but adding sounds and mixes not available back in 1960. This really is a wonderful production and I’m sure Hitchcock would be very proud of the care and attention made available to his masterpiece. Would he turn his grave? – Absolutely! Then he’d scrape his way out of six foot of soil and head to his local Blu-ray retailer. This is exactly how Psycho should be seen ... perfect.

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EXTRAS: Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the remastering process needed to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology. The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous shower scene. The Making of Psycho: A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock’s most shocking film. In the Master’s Shadow – Hitchcock’s Legacy: Some of Hollywood’s top filmmakers discuss Hitchcock’s influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences. Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock. Audio Commentary: Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho”) Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film. The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design. Production Notes: Read an essay on the making of the film. The Psycho Archives: See the gallery of on-set photo stills from the film’s production. Posters and Psycho Ads: See a gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign. Lobby Cards: View a gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film’s theatrical campaign. Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: View rare photos showing the cast and crew at work. Theatrical Trailer: The original promotional trailer from the film’s theatrical campaign. Re-Release Trailers: The promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film.

Adam Stephen Kelly

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