Updated: Oct 15, 2021
Here at RankStuff we are starting a new weekly tradition to give a more critical eye to the cinema. We have some diverse/passionate movie watchers in this group. The setup is this: On Monday we all nominate a movie and pitch it. The following day we vote and consume. The next day or two we will dissect the film in sometimes in light and other times more in-depth ways.
This week Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) was viewed. Most people already know the gist of Psycho. A classic any cinema buff has to check out at some point. Marion Crane steals 40,000 from her work and winds up at Bates Motel for one night and the rest is history. Here she meets good ole Norman with just enough of a twitch about him to know that things are going to go awry. The film is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time for its plot, camera work, score, and themes. The boys watched this at our local Theatre with a room full of people that made the experience even more enjoyable. The scary parts were scarier and the unintentionally funny parts were beyond hilarious. Community is cool apparently - who knew?
Let's check out questions, prompts, and responses!
In 5 words or less, how did the movie make you feel?
Chase: Tense, questioning, laughter
Creg: Curious about filmmaking.
Smoky: Like reading a good book
In 15 words or less prove the film is worthy of having it deemed a classic
Chase: This film definitely deserves the title of classic, it is over 60 years old and still holds up today.
Creg: Keeps it simple, stupid.
Smoky: First of its kind and it still holds up 80 years later. That’s insane
Scale 1 to 10 how scary is this movie? Think about tension, anxiety, jump. However, you perceive scary. terry
Tension and anxiety score: 8/10
Jump scare 1/10
Chases overall weighted scary score 6/10
Creg: The ideas behind it, the movie score, and the isolation and mystery you feel at the bates motel are riveting. You are not holding on to your seat the whole time, but the mood washes over you.
Smoky: The first 25 minutes were agonizing. I was uncomfortable in my seat. But as soon as Norman (spoiler alert) killed the girl, I felt at ease. Can’t explain it.
Chase: My favorite scene is when the private detective was questioning Norman, that was some of the best dialogue of the film, and the tension as Norman fumbled through the questions was great
Creg: The Parlor Scene
Marion and Norman have a one-on-one chat. This shows Norman’s friendliness, but his quirks easily come to the surface. There is tension in this scene that if it seemed one more wrong thing to Norman, it could have taken an entirely different direction, but there is such a cool symmetry to their character arcs. Both feel stuck in their private traps. Can people really get out of these traps? well, they ponder that. There is a genuine connection and empathy on both sides here, which makes the following scenes more horrifying. It is an eye-opening conversation that takes both characters on their paths.
Smoky: Norman when he’s walking up the stairs all funny. Made me chuckle to myself
Choose two lines from the movie that stands out.
Lila Crane: “Did he kill my sister?”
Dr. Fred Richman: “Yes…..and No”
Norman Bates: Well, a son is a poor substitute for a lover.
This line was very unsettling to me, maybe more so because I have seen Bates Motel and have seen the strange relationship Norman had with his mother.
Creg: Here is that conversation
You know what I think? I think we're
all in our private traps, clamped in
them, and none of us can ever climb
out. We scratch and claw... but only
at the air, only at each other, and
for all of it, we never budge an
Sometimes we deliberately step into
I was born in mine. I don't mind it
You should... mind it.
Oh I do... but I say I don't.
The scene at the end
Did he kill my sister?
Yes... and no.
”Did he kill my sister?”
“Yes! . . . And no”
Ask an unanswerable question
Chase: Before the prequel came out a question I would want to be answered would be, “what was Normans and his mother's relationship like?”
Now I want to know, what the hell was Marion Crane
Thinking when she stole that money, she would have gotten caught so easily.
Also what was that cop doing, he was so interested and then never got involved later.
Creg: Are Sam and Marion’s sister clapping cheeks after credits?
Smoky: How did they get the kid from August Rush to look just like Norman Bates????
The biggest takeaway from the movie?
Chase: Don't trust motels
Creg: Something I left pondering is how little control we have over our lives at the start. We are just completely vulnerable to our parents, friends, and society to impact or damage us in a multitude of ways. Would Norman be crazy with a different woman raising him?
Once we are allowed to explore this beautiful and hard life we are left with these “private traps” insecurities, ties, responsibilities that keep us from escaping some based on conditioning, damaged self-worth, the inability to move on.
We are so utterly fragile, protect the youth.
Smoky: People used to be much more trusting?
Alfred Hitchcock is known for his camera work, do you have a favorite shot?
Chase: The shower scene was amazing, I can see why it is infamous
Creg: I have two
Us looking above Private Investigator Arbogast right before and during his murder. It is an interesting perspective to have for the murder. Love that jump scare.
I loved the slow-moving camera work when norman is arguing with his “mother” in the room. Smoky loved his walking up the stairs bit, but then the camera slows down. As they are talking it gradually follows. It is almost like we attempt to get into the room, but we can’t find a way. The camera then goes back to the same spot where the murder just took place. Again, beautiful symmetry.
Smoky: I don’t remember the exact scene, but there were a few times where it was just a real close-up of Norman Bates doing something weird.
How do you feel about Norman Bates? Does the prequel change anything for you?
Chase: I love the character of Norman Bates, he is very interesting. He often seems as harmless as a child however his social awkwardness/unawareness often reveals his disturbed mind. The prequel has given me more insight into the character's origins giving me a greater appreciation.
Creg: Norman Bates is quirky and charming enough to like him and feel guilty about it. I enjoy the storytelling of Psycho in the sense of we follow Marion down the path of escape to her death, but as soon as she dies, Norman picks up the baton to do the same. The focus changes, it almost Hitchock wanted to create a moral dilemma within ourselves. He clearly had a fucked-up childhood. Never have seen bates motel though.
He feels pinned to Bates Motel and his mother, clearly a fucked up dude though. So mixed feelings.
Smoky: Norman gives me the heebie-jeebies
MVP of the movie?
Chase: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Creg: Bernard Herrmann the music composer who created the score. So many tv shows and movies have given homages or spoofs to the score of this film, BUT it is so effective when you do not see it coming.
I had no clue about the second murder and when the music erupted after dead silence - my heart jumped.
It set the tone for the film and kept it steady throughout it.
But s/o to the acting by the actors that played Marion and Norman.
Smoky: Norman Bates… I’m also a little obsessed with him.
Nitpicks of the movie
Chase: At the end of the film when Dr. Fred Richman was describing in detail the plot of the film.
This left nothing for the audience to interpret however I do recognize that this being the first horror film audience at the time may have needed this in order to understand this new media. If this film was made today I believe this scene would have been omitted.
Other than that some of the dialogue felt a little unnatural however I'm not intimately familiar with how people spoke in the ’60s
Creg: The psychologist at the end really treats the audience like dumbasses. It explains Norman's actions I feel like 10 times. I get the plot was maybe ahead of its time, but hand-holding in film is never a good look. They should have caught Norman and then immediately cut to his jail scene monologue with that devilish smile and he's lost in his own mind.
Smoky: wish there was a little more color.
Give it any type of rating.
Creg: Mt Rushmore of Horror Filmmaking.
Smoky: Date night, but like, dinner and a movie with your homies.