Friday FabOoolousness – “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes”

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  But this time we switched things up a little—Catie reviews the remake and I take on the original.  I know, crazy…   Anyway, this month we discuss Psycho.

First, let’s check in with Catie’s Homemade Summary that applies to both the 1960 and 1998 versions:

Marian Crane steals a large sum of money from her employer with plans of using it to help her and her boyfriend start a new life together.  Her plans go awry when she checks into the Bates Motel and is killed in the shower.

Marian’s sister and a private investigator trace Marian to the Bates Motel.  Will they find out what happened to Marian before the same thing happens to them?

Today, Psycho is known as one of the best Alfred Hitchcock films of all time, or at least one of the most popular.  Everyone knows about Psycho.  Everyone recognizes the names the Bates Motel and Norman Bates.  Everyone thinks twice about taking showers in motel rooms.  Everyone shivers just a bit when they see a motel vacancy sign.  Right?  Or is it just me?

Still creepy today…

Adapted from Robert Bloch’s novel and loosely based on the true crimes of Ed Gein (see Catie’s Freaky Friday post today!), Psycho received mixed reviews but eventually earned Academy Award nominations—that doesn’t happen for the thriller genre all that often.  So what makes Psycho special?

As with any cinematic success, Psycho first attracts an audience with its cast, starring all young and beautiful actors: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, Janet Leigh as Marian Crane, Vera Miles as Lila Crane, and John Gavin as Sam Loomis.  Next, we have the score—haunting and suspenseful music by Bernard Herrmann that raises the movie’s tension and impending violence.  Just listen as we play the trailer:

Along with the score, Psycho raised the bar and was a bit ahead of its time with its heightened sexual element and violence.  Heck, in watching the film again for the purpose of this post, I was shocked to hear the characters use the term “transvestite” when talking about Norman’s personalities.  Today “transvestite” is socially acceptable, at least in the form of everyday conversation, but in 1960?

Before jumping into the most obvious reason as to why Psycho is and was such a successful suspense and horror film, let’s pay homage to some of the film’s fabOoolous dialogue—dialogue that not only left viewers on the edge of their seats, but specific lines with insight into the classic element of foreshadowing.

“Mother isn’t quite herself today.”

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

“A son is a poor substitute for a lover.”

“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

“We’re all in our private traps.”

Think about the overall story arc of Psycho, and then re-read these lines—all shared between Norman and Marian before the famous shower scene.  Every single piece of the above dialogue hints at what viewers learn at the end of the film when the psychologist shares his findings with the rest of the characters following his interrogation of Norman.

And since we brought up the famous shower scene, this might be the number one reason why the 1960 version of Psycho is still relevant today.  Queue Herrmann’s orchestra…

Viewers never see the knife actually stab Marian; the scene grabs a hold of the audience by the music, the screams, and the blood washing down the drain.  Hitchcock adds dramatization by Marian’s pulling at the shower curtain and it ripping off ring by ring, and uses excellent cinematography, flashing from the bathtub drain to the close up of Marian’s lifeless eye.  The movie may be over forty years old, but I truly appreciate the genius behind this scene—one little old scene.

The Original “Scream Queen”

Psycho is dark, literally and figuratively.  Not only is the film black and white, the lighting scheme oftentimes shades the characters faces to where viewers only see their silhouettes and shadows.  But this darkness launched Hitchcock’s film into the franchise world, with three sequels (Psycho II, Psycho III, and Psycho IV: The Beginning) all starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the 1998 remake directed by Gus Van Sant that Catie reviewed earlier this week, as well as other television and documentary pieces.

Norman is CREEPY!!

Speaking of the franchise, Anthony Perkins is just as recognizable today as the creepy Bates Motel and the two-story residence located behind it.  He had a very successful career before his death in the ‘90s, was even nominated for an Academy Award for a different role, but he will forever be remembered as Norman Bates.

And before we go, let’s talk about the original “Scream Queen” Janet Leigh.  Man, was she beautiful and not afraid to show off her sexuality.  It wasn’t until watching Psycho for the I-don’t-know-what-time preparing for this post, that I recognized the similarities between Ms. Leigh and her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis.  The two practically mirror each other with their tight-lipped grins and expressions.  It’s no wonder Jamie Lee took to slasher movies as well and followed in her mother’s footsteps as the modern-day “Scream Queen.”

Hello, Mother…

If anyone hasn’t seen Hitchcock’s masterpiece, check it out at least once.  For any AT&T U-verse customers, Psycho (1960) is currently available on Movieplex’s OnDemand films until August 1st.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Psycho?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

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22 Responses to Friday FabOoolousness – “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes”

  1. *spoiler alert*

    Terrific review, Tiffany! What always sold me on Psycho was the story arc. We expect to be following our protagonist through the entire film. The timing of the shower scene totally shocks the viewer out of the traditional story mold and leaves them in unexpected territory. As if the film wasn’t already creepy enough by that point, with Marian gone by the halfway mark we’re left displaced, disoriented, and completely unsure as to what’s coming next.

    I appreciate most of Hitchcock’s films (my other favorites of his are “North by Northwest” and “Rear Window”), but I have to agree that “Psycho” has got to be his masterpiece.

    • Thanks, Steven! I really don’t know how many times I’ve seen Psycho, but Hitchcock was way ahead of his time with the making of this film. Watching it this week, I couldn’t believe how well done it was. And you are right, viewers are left completely displaced and disoriented after Marian’s death. I noticed more of Hitchcock’s films are on Movieplex’s OnDemand feature this month and I may need to find the time to watch a few more, again.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Pooh says:

    We didn’t even like to be in the bathroom alone. ha ha
    Love you,Pooh

  3. tomwisk says:

    Saw the original and read the story. It’s an American classic and personally I think it really didn’t need a remake except to introduce it to young people who shun black and white movies. Hitchcock did it right the first time.

    • I agree completely, Tom. So many of today’s remakes are unnecessary. All they do is introduce classic films to the newer generations who turn their noses up at “old” films. And I won’t lie. When I was younger, I was one of those… But luckily I wised up with my old-age. Today’s generation doesn’t know what they’re missing if they don’t watch the classics…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Jess Witkins says:

    Love this old horror flick! But I adore Hitchcock! I was telling Catie, I got to read Robert Bloch’s book and watch this film for a class in college (awesome, right?). If I remember right, the blood in the bathtub was actually cocoa powder I think. Since it was shot in black and white, it didn’t matter much what color was used. Fun flick to review!

    Thought of you both as I have the remake of Footloose to pick up from the library now.

    • Movies and their props – I’m always amazed to learn the tricks of the trade. Cocoa Powder… 🙂

      Let us know what you think of Footloose, Jess! 🙂

      • Jess Witkins says:

        Ok, I watched the new Footloose…meh. I’m not a huge fan of the original but I liked it better than the remake. I’m more of a West Side Story, Chorus Line, Mamma Mia kind of girl.

  5. A true classic! But I don’t think I’ve seen the remake. Maybe I should watch both of them back to back. 🙂

    My favorite Hitchcock movie is The Birds. That REALLY scared me when I was a kid!

    • donnagalanti says:

      Lauralynn, The Birds freaks me out too – and even now, re-watching it years later. All those birds pecking your eyes out. Each Fall we get thousands of crows on some pilgrimage and they land for a day. They cover the grass, the trees, the house. I’m scared to go outside thanks to Hitchcock!

      But seriously, Tiffany, thanks for giving us the 411 on the remake. I dont think I will watch either – and will go watch the original again instead! I’ll keep my oldies – including all the 80s ones they are remaking now

      • The Birds gets me too! Like Donna, we get thousands of black crows every fall/winter that take up residency in the trees and on the power lines of our local Walmart shopping center. Everyone gets out of the car and runs in to the stores… I love to watch everyone’s reactions when they park. They don’t know if they should get out or not. It’s creepy…

        Thanks for stopping by Donna & Lauralynn! 🙂

  6. Catie Rhodes says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I am a fan of old movies (in case you haven’t noticed). This is one of the true masterpieces of yesteryear. It’s beautifully filmed, and at the time Hitchcock was doing some cutting edge stuff. Looking forward to next month’s movie. 😀

    • I’m glad you’re a fan of old movies… I’m learning to appreciate them more and more as I get older. Thanks for letting me do the original this time. 🙂

      Our July movie… I have to go back to our emails and see what we’re doing! 🙂

  7. I love this movie. Definitely a masterpiece. And those lines you picked out — some of the best, especially “We all go a little mad sometimes”. One of my favorites. Anytime I see one of those strip motels, I think of this movie. Hitchcock was definitely a genius with lots of great movies, but this will always be one of my favorites. Great post, Tiffany!

    • I think the dialogue and the score really adds to the brilliance behind the storyline. I still can’t get over how well done Psycho is.

      Thanks for stopping by, Rhonda!

  8. Julie Glover says:

    The scene direction and cinematography of this film were astounding. Anthony Perkins was also fabulous in the role. It’s a shame these days, however, that most people know the end before they see the film. It’s like how my sons already knew that Darth Vader was Luke’s father; there was no gasp when that was announced in The Empire Strikes Back like there was for me when I first saw it. The twist of Psycho is freaky when you don’t know how it ends.

    It’s still not my favorite Hitchcock film (it sure is hard to beat Rear Window for me), but Psycho is a classic everyone should see. Thanks, Tiffany!

    • Rear Window…. I think I saw this one on TV not long ago. Didn’t Steve Guttenberg make a remake of Rear Window… The Bedroom Window, I think. I watched it just the other night while I was laying in bed. I need to watch the original.

      Thanks for stopping by, Julie!

  9. Karen McFarland says:

    Well, I’ve seen the original Psycho movie, but have not seen the newer version. Janet Leigh was a beautiful woman. Anthony Perkins on the other hand always bugged me. Maybe I couldn’t move past the stigma from the movie. But I can still remember the scream. And yes, Jamie Lee Curtis looks a lot like her mother. She was very close to both her parents. Tony Curtis was a very talented artist. Great post! And good to see both you Tiffany and Catie! 🙂

  10. Pingback: I Know Whodunnit | Julie Glover, Writer

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