Check in. Unpack. Relax. Take a shower...
Although this was the tagline to a 1998 film that was riddled with pointlessness, it still resonates brilliantly with the 1960 original it photocopied: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. The mother of modern horror.
I have just finished re-watching the original Psycho (I've decided an entirely healthy way to spend this forthcoming weekend is to watch and review the complete Psycho saga, for no particular reason), and there is little to be said about it that hasn't been said before. Whilst it is void of the searing grandeur or Hitch's 1950s Americana movies (North by Northwest, Vertigo, Rear Window) and is in fact quite visually basic (aside from moments of flair, there aren't many artistically noir-ish moments, it's just flat b&w) - which had the impact to cast a long shadow over the legendary director's entire career. Stars Perkins and Leigh have a "Hollywood new wave" feel about them (a similar freshness which Tippi Hedren, Paul Newman and Julie Andrews brought to their Hitchcock films in the 60s), they don't have the stoic gravitas that Grant, Stewart, Novak & Kelly, et al, brought to Hitchcock's earlier films. This is by no means a criticism - they're both wonderful, as are John Gavin and Vera Miles as the historically forgotten 2nd act stars of the film.
We're so desensitized by subsequent decades of exploding guts and rivers of crimson all over our screens, that it is virtually impossible to comprehend how shocking the film could have been at the time. The creeping inevitability of the shower scene as the shadowy figure enters the room, and the finale when Lila Crane decides to investigate the cellar, both raise goosebumps. Uniquely, it was initially met with a muted/dubious critical appraisal upon original release, and was lambasted for being cheap titilation (the film critic for The Observer newspaper - C. A. Lejeune - actually quit her job because she was so disgusted with the film. Thank christ she didn't hang about for the Saw series!), but once the public success steamrolled it to the top of the charts around the world, it was re-reviewed and held in much higher esteem.
But I love the film. For what it stands for as well as what it is. Even the moments of hamminess (Detective Flabbergast's elaborate and bizarre tumble down the stairs being a particular curiosity) are brilliant because they're Hitchcock. One thing which I never quite understood, is - at the end of the film when Norman dashes frantically up the steps and into his home to stop Marion's sister finding Mother in the basement, why does he feel the need to drag up?? It seems a most inconvenient use of his time.