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YMMV / Psycho

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     Hitchcock's film 
  • Adaptation Displacement: Who remembers the novel the film was based on? If you have heard of it, it’s likely just due to the famous story of Hitchcock doing his level best to buy up every single copy in existence to make sure plenty of people would go into the movie not knowing its big twist.
  • Award Snub: Alfred Hitchcock is the most egregious example (although for Psycho, he was nominated for Best Director, but did not win), but many are utterly shocked that Anthony Perkins was never nominated for his performance as Norman Bates. In 2009, Entertainment Weekly considered that snub to be the second worst Oscar snub of all time. Hitchcock himself expressed to Perkins how ashamed he was because Perkins was not nominated. Also, Bernard Hermann's score wasn't nominated either.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Composed, once again, by Bernard Herrmann.
    • The famous repeated minor-9th violin chords during the shower scene were so monstrously effective, they were used again by later generations of horror movie directors in their own films. They even have their own trope page.
  • Ending Fatigue: Norman's psychosis is explained down to the last detail after the story is over. Roger Ebert famously called this scene the one thing keeping the film from being perfect.
  • Genius Bonus: All the paintings in the parlor, but most specifically the painting that Norman takes off the wall in order to spy on Marion, are versions of Susannah and the Elders, a biblical story about two lecherous voyeurs who try to take advantage of an unsuspecting young woman while she's bathing. Also, in part with the bird motifs, Norman accidentally knocks off one of the pictures of birds in Marion's room, which confirms him as the murderer because he "offed the bird" - which, in British slang, is killing a young woman.
  • Genre Turning Point: In addition to marking, for some, the end of The Golden Age of Hollywood, Psycho is heralded by many critics as more or less codifying and defining the new mainstream of American cinema. Instead of idealized stars, you had actors playing normal people, at least relative to the mainstream of the time. More importantly it blurred the line between high and low art, with crude pulp material (dealing with illicit sex, robbery and a depraved Serial Killer) becoming as profitable, if not more so than the Epic Movie, The Western, The Musical and other prestige films which Hollywood, before and after Psycho, still saw as their major bread-and-butter, but by the end of The '60s had become unfashionable and unpopular.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Janet Leigh's 1949 film, Holiday Affair, her character laments that men go after "frowsy blondes" rather than a woman like her. Psycho then had Leigh as a frowsy blonde.
    • Marion Crane's well-known death in the shower scene becomes this when in Bates Motel she ironically gets Spared by the Adaptation and her boyfriend Sam Loomis gets killed instead.
    • The series Scream Queens (2015) did a spoof of the shower scene with Janet Leigh's daughter Jamie Lee Curtis.
    • People from Salt Lake City who see the film get an extra chuckle from the KTVX news van, even though it's supposed to be taking place in California (and the Utah TV station didn't get those call letters until 1975).
  • Hollywood Homely: Marion’s co-worker saying that a man flirted with Marion and not her because he must have seen her wedding ring, the joke being she’s supposedly a lot less attractive when she’s actually not bad-looking at all. Making it even more awkward is that’s Hitchcock’s own daughter playing the role.
  • It Was His Sled: At this late date, it's hard to find anybody who isn't familiar with the original movie's plot twists, whether they've actually seen it or not, mostly because Norman Bates has become one of the most iconic characters not only in film history but in the 20th Century. On the chance you weren't already aware, Norma was dead all along and the killer is Norman himself, who has split-personality disorder and his murderous side "is" Norma.
  • Memetic Mutation: The "Psycho" Strings are the most famous example, but two of Norman's lines are fairly common Shout Outs in other genre pieces:
    We all go a little mad sometimes.
    Well, a boy's best friend is his mother.
  • Mis-blamed: The summation in the end indicates that Norman Bates is not transgender; instead, he has what is now called dissociative identity disorder, with a female alter. Despite this, the movie has received criticism for being transphobic.
  • My Real Daddy:
    • One of the most notorious controversies about the film is the claim that Saul Bass made in the end of The '60s that he and not Hitchcock directed the famous "shower scene". In addition to designing the title sequence of the film, Bass has a credit for "Pictorial Consultant" and in that capacity designed storyboards for both the shower scene and the Arbogast Murder scene.
    • The reason for this controversy is Hitchcock's fault. During production, he and Bass had a falling out. And then in his famous interviews with François Truffaut, Hitchcock deprecated Bass when Truffaut brought up the Pictorial Consultant credit, stating that Bass designed storyboards for the Arbogast murder which Hitchcock didn't use and completely neglected Bass' contribution to the shower scene. Bass was naturally upset at what he saw as a deliberate lie of omission.
    • Later authors having consulted the storyboards note that Bass more or less did design the shower scene, the silhouette of the mother behind the curtains, the knife through the curtains and even details like the circular shower-head which rhymes with the Iris of Marion and then the drainage hole of the tub (which was similar to the spiral of Vertigo). The sequence was also quite unusual since Hitchcock rarely used such a montage of shots in his films. In either case, Hitchcock did direct the scene since he was on set and he more or less did delegate Bass to take on a bigger role than beforenote  but the shower sequence is as much Bass' as it is Hitchcock's even if the former did not as he tried to claim "direct it".
  • Narm:
    • Marion beaming with the unrestrained delight of a cheesecake model while showering.
    • "Mother, oh God, Mother...the blood! The blood!" Mostly because this is the only piece of dialogue in a lengthy segment with no dialogue at all and thus seem out of place.
    • The murder of the private investigator. Seriously, he gets slashed in the face with a kitchen knife, and stumbles down an entire flight of stairs backward before falling down? Those are some very neat balancing skills for a murder victim.
    • When Norman's standing at the swamp edge, having presumably sunk Arbogast's car as he did Marion's, one can't help but think, "Jeez, that swamp must be getting pretty full by now."
    • The ending scene in the fruit cellar. While Lila's screaming would have brought anyone down to the fruit cellar, the fact that when Norman's alternate personality realized she was in the house that he went up to his mother's room to dress up as her instead of having a quick look around and then going down to the fruit cellar kind of detracts from the seriousness. Not much, but some. Same goes for actually seeing how ridiculous Norman looks in the dress and the wig.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Not everyone dislikes the psychiatrist's scene. Mostly because Simon Oakland's performance is deliberately over-the-top, it relieves some of the tension and that there was no other way to dispatch so much exposition economically given the constraints and structure of the film. There's a bit of Fridge Brilliance on Hitchcock's part—while the audience may have figured out everything, everyone in the room is clueless, so of course, they need the explanation, even if most of the viewers don't.
    • The "Psycho" Strings have been parodied a lot, so hearing them is bound to make some viewers laugh. But that doesn't stop them from being effective.
  • Out of the Ghetto: For low-budget horror and slasher films. Hitchcock, himself a Pigeon Holed Director, was fascinated by William Castle's cheap horror productions and was curious to see if he could make a movie of that kind and raise it out of its ghetto. Usually associated with an elegant type of thriller (featuring high production values and A-list stars). He made Psycho cheaply with little known actors and created perhaps the most commercially successful horror movie ever made, one of cinema's most iconic villains and launched the slasher genre, and also scored one of the few Best Director nominations he ever recieved. Thanks to the film's low-budget, great success and Hitchcock getting a bigger share of the profits, its a movie with a very high profit margin and it was the first time a horror movie became as much of a box-office sensation as an Epic Movie, The Western and The Musical.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Practically invented the fear of someone about to kill you while you're showering, just waiting outside the curtain. Hitchcock famously responded to a letter complaining that the writer's daughter refused to get in the tub after seeing the film with "I suggest you have her dry-cleaned."
  • The Scrappy: The psychiatrist is considered one for his long-winded scene that comes at the end of the film, which states information that should for the most part be obvious by the end. He is also happened to be an Unwitting Instigator of Doom in the sequel Psycho II, due to his diagnosis of Norman being permanently insane; this provokes Lila (who was present at the psychiatrist's hearing) to staunchly believe Norman will always be crazy and attempts to drive him insane again to get him recommitted when he is released and initially indeed cured of his insanity.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The infamous Shower Scene. If the movie was put in theaters today, most, if not all, people in the audience would probably watch on with indifference to the scene, and possibly complain over the bad special effects. However, it's important to take into account that the movie was released in the early 60's. At the time, the directors were not allowed to show explicit violence, nudity or a toilet flushing. (Hitchcock got that last part through, though.) Through fast-cut editing, timing, and effect, Hitchcock made it happen as explicit as the film industry would allow, which is why it was a great shock and terror to the people back then; you had not even expected someone to make a scene work that way. The world was left in a state of awe and terror for a long time after its premiere. Adding to the shock factor was that Marion had been set up as the protagonist, and was played by the best known actor in the cast. So to see the movie subvert Plot Armour was also quite shocking. Wes Craven would repeat this later with Drew Barrymore in Scream (1996).
  • Signature Scene: The Shower Scene, where Marion Crane gets stabbed to death by Norman Bates.
  • Special Effect Failure: Possibly because of the scene of Arbogast's murder being a hasty reshoot — Alfred Hitchcock's assistant director, Hilton Green originally stepped in to direct it after Hitchcock was taken ill, but the resulting footage was deemed to make it too obvious that he was about to be killed — the sequence is realised with some shoddy even for the time rear-projection, which makes it look like Arbogast somehow dances his way backwards down the stairs before falling over just in time to be killed.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Psycho is looked at as Hitch's peak of cultural appeal and influence. None of his films were as commercially successful or culturally impactful. The Birds is still considered a classic and a pioneer in special effects and sound design, but it was not as big of a sensation as Psycho and while Marnie is now considered his final masterpiece, it was critically disliked and commercially unsuccessful.
    • Psycho is also a final hurrah for Hitchcock's Production Posse in general. It was the last film Saul Bass designed titles for, on account of a personal and professional falling out. It was Hitchcock's final film for Paramount Studios (where he had made all his great films in The '50s). In the following years, his longtime editor George Tomasini and cinematographer Robert Burksnote  would pass away, and Hitchcock would have another falling out with Bernard Herrmann. So it was in a real sense an End of an Age for Hitchcock.
    • Joseph Stefano, who wrote the screenplay, worked as a producer and writer on The Outer Limits, but otherwise never came to close to the success of Psycho again.
  • Values Dissonance: Norman's reaction to Marion suggesting his mother go to a mental hospital or care home is shock and outrage. Of course this is because she's been dead for years but the idea of getting help or care for a mentally ill relative is treated like A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Values Resonance:
    • It's pretty cool to see this film, released in what was basically the Dark Ages as far as views of non-heterosexuals were concerned, go a bit out of its way to point out that Norman should not be considered a transvestite, or have his evil actions ascribed to such an identity.
    • It also seems more understanding towards mental illness. The psychiatrist's explanation at the end specifies how Norman's condition has manifested and how it affects him. In an era that would ordinarily write him off as "crazy for the sake of being crazy," the psychiatrist empathizes with Norman and recognizes that his personality is separate from his murderous alter.
    • Both the Values Dissonance and Values Resonance examples are inverted among the Anti-Psych platforms for obvious reasons.
  • The Woobie:
    • Marion Crane made a terrible impulsive mistake, came to regret it and was going to make amends but ended up being murdered.
    • Norman. He's so epically messed up. His father dies when he is 5 (it's never made clear how this happened). After this, his mother deliberately isolates and dominates him, making him completely dependent on her. She verbally abuses him, (if the way his alternate personality speaks is any reflection of how she was in life is to be believed, and there's no reason why it wouldn't be) and fills his head with the belief that all women (besides her) are evil whores. Then she shows up with a man when Norman is 12. At this point, he's only been with and known his mother almost all his life, no other person, so he killed them out of jealous desperation. The woman who was responsible for his abusive childhood now lives inside his head, berating, watching, punishing - no peace, nowhere to hide. Norman's trap is his own mind, and he can't escape. Hitchcock deliberately cast Anthony Perkins in the role to emphasise Norman's woobie quality.

     Van Sant's Film 

  • Sequelitis: This occurred with a different sequel to the original novel, and another plot was bandied about elsewhere: with Norman being released, found to be cured, back into the general populace. Except it was the 70s, when he went away in the early 60s. The eponymous "psycho" would have been the Anvilicious world around him.


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