The Movie Critique

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
North By Northwest
Taxi Driver
Wild Things
Kindergarten Cop
The Godfather
The Shining
Gone with the wind
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Maltese Falcon

El Dorado, Arkansas 71730

Date: 12 November 2001
Summary: A Prey To Norman Bates

Janet Leigh, who played Marion Crane, stole money, from her employer George Lowery. She left town, with the stolen money, changed cars, then went onward, to the Bates Motel. I believe she had a guilty conscience and she was going to go back and confess to her crime. Little did she know, that she would be dead before morning. After being stabbed in the shower, her body was plunged into the moat. She should have been honest.



Date: 10 November 2001
Summary: Forerunner of slasher flicks

Minor spoliers.

I disgree with many Hitchcock fans in that I prefer his "obvious" creepy films such as this one and "The Birds" more than more sublte (and far less effective, and subsequently duller) works like "Vertigo". What a film such as "Vertigo" lacks that "Psycho" has is edginess. This is demonstrated adroitly in the "parlor" discussion between Norman and Marion which is penetrating and smart.

It would seem hackneyed to comment on the "shower scene", but the reason it is so demotic is because of its brillance. By exploiting the vulnerablity that is simply being in the shower he brings horror close to home. The shot from inside the shower where we see the blurry image appear on the other side of the curtain, is ominously fufilling.

Oh yeah--Janet Leigh is unbelievably sexy (pardon for a moment while I digress to my fellow males--ain't black bras great!). It's too bad that she had to leave at the film's middle, but then of course this movie would have never been what it is, huh?


Athens, Ga

Date: 23 October 2001
Summary: Scariest and best movie i've ever seen

I was not even a gleam in my father's eye when this movie was made, and yet this movie is as scary now as I'm sure it was then. "Scary" movies these days generally do not scare me at all. Alfred Hitchcock's movies have always had an uncanny ability to scare the wits out of me. Particular Vertigo and this movie. The Birds was scary also, but not as disturbing as these. Now, about this review. I had never seen this before and on a boring Saturday evening I decided to go buy this dvd from the local store. So, I got it and watched it that night. I watched it with the lights out, my surround system cranked, and on the edge of my seat the whole time. I cannot tell you how many times my heart skipped a beat in this movie. The music, the photography, the lighting, everything combined to make this a movie that I will not forget. The music in the shower scene that is repeated at the very end (screeching violins) is forever engrained in my memory. I tried watching this movie again by myself today and I cannot do it. That is how scary it is. Anthony Perkins is amazing. Everyone in the cast is amazing, but his is the performance that you will remember from this movie.

Now, about the dvd. This dvd is incredible. A 90-minute making of Psycho is incredible. There is also a trailer, another documentary, and tons of other good stuff. They really crammed a lot onto this dvd to make it worth your money. The video quality is crystal clear. The audio quality is stupendous. It is only Dolby Digital stereo though. Just be sure to crank this one to let Bernard Herrmanns score scare you out of your mind. To sum it up, do not rent this dvd, this dvd belongs in your collection so do yourself a favor and go rent it. But do not watch it by yourself unless you are brave.


northridge, ca

Date: 18 October 2001
Summary: Without a doubt, Hitchcock's best.

Many of Alfred Hitchcock's movies are considered classics, but "Psycho" is easily his best. But the reason for that isn't Hitchcock, it's the cast and story.

Hitchcock is the kind of director who succeeds best when his movies deal strictly with person to person situations, and "Psycho" does this best. I have seen many, many Hitchcock movies and my peak of interest in all of these movies is when there is an intriguing situation between two or more people, such as the one-sided murder plot and its resulting conflict in "Strangers On a Train," and the attempts of Barry Kane in "Saboteur" to clear his name of sabotage. However, in the case of these two movies and many other Hitchcock films, the person to person situation is almost destroyed by an overly large climax that is ridiculously corny. The merry-go-around scene in "Strangers On a Train" is an embarassment, and the Statue of Liberty scene in "Saboteur" is a few steps too far. Other bad climaxes include the hilariously bad fall Jimmy Stewart has at the end of "Rear Window," and the lackluster mountain climax in "North by Northwest." "Psycho," however, avoids these kinds of climaxes. "Psycho" stays on a person to person level throughout the entire movie and does not include a terribly corny ending (unless you count Norman being able to perfectly imitate an old lady's voice). Considering the odd set-up, a man assuming the role of his mother, the story of "Psycho" is executed rather realistically. Also (and I don't mean to slam Hitchcock) "Psycho" contains far more realistically portrayed characters than any other Hitchcock film. In other Hitchcock films, only one or two characters have any depth, while in "Psycho" there are five characters (Norman, Marion, Lila, Arbogast, and Sam) that have depth (though John Gavin's performance is a little stiff). Even supporting characters like Al Chambers and the detective at the end are very believable. Pat Hitchcock, however, as Marion's friend at work, does her part in destroying depth (as she did in "Strangers On a Train"). But most of the scenes in "Psycho" are very well-acted, especially the questioning scene between Arbogast and Norman and their light-weight argument outside. As usual, "Psycho" contains the Hitchcock knack for irony ("The first customer of the day is always the most troubled," and "Insect or man, death should always be painless), but, for the most part the realistic performances save the movie from too-much corniness and truly make it one of the finest movies ever made (one of my top five). 5 stars out of 5. The underrated "Psycho II," (released in 1983) contains excellent performances all around and contains no irony whatsoever. Although "Psycho II" is generally liked, straying away from Hitchcock didn't sit well with some.


John G. Olson (
Elk River, Minnesota

Date: 5 October 2001
Summary: Tight and Terrifying

When Hitchcock tells a tale, he engages the mind of the audience. We don't need to see knives tearing into flesh, people being strangled on the screen, or gunshots ripping through a brain. And still, when we are finished, we are more uncomfortable than had we watched the actual murder. In Psycho, it's all about vulnerability. Janet Leigh is in a state of great agitation and needs to trust someone. Unfortunately it is the master taxidermist, Anthony Perkins. His Norman Bates, with his nervous tics, his analytical surmises, his understatement, are master-pieces of madness. This film is what every student should see. It is montage; it is taughtness; it is the best kind of storytelling. The things which were still with me a month after seeing this for the first time were as follows:

1. The house. That ominous house, peering down, Poe-like from the hill above the motel. How can architecture better capture threat.

2. The scene with the patrolman.

3. The conversation Norman when Marion first stops at the motel.

4. The shower scene. I can still hear the theramine (used again at the end), and the blood flowing down the shower drain.

5. The killing of Martin Balsam on the stairs (he also used this perspective in Vertigo and Topaz).

6. The "conversations" with Mother.

7. The naked lightbulb swinging as the rocker turns around and Norman coming into the basement.

What a great director. He saw everything and knew how to fill every minute with suspense. A truly masterly film.


Jens Carl
Solvesborg, Sweden

Date: 2 October 2001
Summary: Thrilling masterpeice

This Alfred Hitchcock horror-thriller starring Anthony Perkins (as Norman Bates of course), Vera Miles (as Lila Crane) and John Gavin (as Sam Loomis) is a great movie.

I love the acting of Anthony Perkins. He just fits in real nicely in this masterpiece. The story is just fabulous and the directing (Hitchcock) also very good.

Well, if you haven't seen it, you have to see it. This is a must for every enthusiast of movies. Get up! Rent it! NOW!


Nicole (
New Jersey

Date: 25 September 2001
Summary: A Dark look into the mind of a mad man

Norman Bates is the mad man here, and to take a look into his life, is very, very scary. Psycho is Hitchcock's masterpiece. For anyone to come up with a story like this is genius. I fell in love with this movie the moment i saw it, was when i was 12 years old. I wanted to make a movie like this so bad. Then i realized i wasn't that talented. This movie is a great suspense, because when you watch this movie, you try to put all the pieces together, but you just can't do it, and get an answer so different from what you thought. In the beginning of this movie , when i was watching it for the first time, i thought Janet Leigh was the mother, but boy oh boy was i wrong ( and stupid ). I used to have a crush on Anthony Perkins when i first saw this movie, then after the movie was done, the crush was gone. Straight up this movie is A MUST SEE, and if you did not see this movie, you don't know what you are missing out of. It's wonderfully done and what really amazes me is how old this movie is, and how no other movie has beaten this movie in the scariest film category of all- time. I give this movie ***** out of ***** stars, because this is a classic.



Date: 10 September 2001
Summary: To make awful remakes from great originals is blasphemy!!!

Along with George A. Romeros "Night of the living Dead" "Psycho" is the most genre-defining film of modern horror. The "shower scene" is legendary and mastermind Alfred Hitchcock has done absolutely great work with using an expressionst style in making this movie. Main actor Anthony Perkins is giving an unforgettable over the top-performance! His role was so perfectly convincing that he was branded with the Norman Bates-image for his life time...

Recently I wrote a review about Robert Wises all-time classic "The haunting" and compared it to Jan de Bonts terrible remake... Now, "Psycho" is a similar case: the suspense has gone, the creepy atmosphere is totally missing and Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates is one of the greatest miscasts in the history of cinema!!!

I always thought that the disgrace of monuments is punishable...


telegonus (
brighton, ma

Date: 5 September 2001
Summary: It's the Little Things

So much has been written about this film that all I can do is add my own voice of approval and say that I consider it to be a masterpiece, and add a few things often overlooked or not commented on that add so much to the movie's cumulative power. It's often the little things that make a film work. Here are a few examples:

a.) The absolute realism of the first twenty minutes of so, which are so true to life that they might have come from a documentary on how people lived in America forty years ago. There isn't a false note,--or a missed one--as each vocal inflection and raised eyebrow carries great meaning even if, on the surface, not much appears to be happening.

b.) Marion and the motorcycle cop. The cop is dark and sinister in appearance, due mostly to the bright desert sun, and never takes off his sunglasses. His conduct is at all times professional; he never raises his voice, and comes across as calm and rather perceptive; and he seems truly concerned over Marion Crane's fate, though he is unaware of her actual predicament. Marion is, alas, a bad actress, and the cop sees through this, if not to the heart of the matter, yet we don't want him to follow her. Despite his appearance the cop is not the angel of death but rather Marion's last chance. Had she confessed to her crime she would have escaped the fate that awaited her; and if she had just been a little less clever, and driven more slowly, and the skies remained clear, he might have followed her to the motel and intervened on her behalf.

c.) California Charlie. John Anderson is wonderful as the fast-talking, semi-streetwise small town used car salesman. At the end of almost every other line of dialogue he seems on the verge of discovering who Marion really is, then pulls back or comes to the wrong conclusion. He senses that she is being watched by the cop; but he also wants to make a sale. The scenes at the used car lot are both highly realistic,--and perfectly acted and timed--and also a little frightening, from the opening, "I'm in no mood for trouble", to the final "hey!" just before Marion drives away. We know that something isn't right, but the problem isn't with the car lot; it's Marion's plight casts a dark shadow over all her scenes there, despite the brightest sunlight imaginable.

d.) Chitchat with Norman. Once Marion and Norman settle down for a light meal in the parlor their conversation turns to general things, and Norman is a good observer, if a bit awkward socially. Without actually lying Marion gives herself away with a throwaway line ("Sometimes just once is enough", in a reference to private traps) and Norman seems to catch her drift, if not the actual meaning of what she's saying, and allows it to pass. We can see that he is moody when he angrily leans forward and delivers an angry, though controlled tirade against putting people in institutions. Every camera angle and line of dialogue in this scene has meaning and carries enormous weight, and yet the drama plays out in a light, relaxed mode, and the performers seems truly connected to one another at its conclusion, strangers no more. This is in my opinion the best written and most beautifully acted, edited and photographed scene I have ever seen in a movie. The handling of every nuance is prodigal and masterful, and the end result nothing less than staggering.

e.) The sheriff's house. When Sam and Lila wake up the sheriff and his wife in the middle of the night we see a splendid example of people talking to one another without either party understanding what is in fact going on. The result is a mini-comedy of manners; but it is also good exposition, as we learn of Mrs. Bates' death (and the dress she was buried in, "periwinkle blue"). John McInyre's sheriff dominates this scene (and no other), and expertly delivers its punchline, "Well if that's Mrs. Bates in the window, who's that buried up in Greenlawn Cemetary".

f.) Arbogast and Norman. The private detective's interview with Norman is played low-key, and yet we sense the tension in Norman's voice and manner, and know that Arbogast does, too. Something is amiss. This is beyond the question of who killed Marion. The stakes feel very high in this sparring match, and though Norman wins on a technicality, we know that Arbogast is coming back for more.

g.) The shrink's explanation. This part of the film has been criticized by many for being a sop thrown to the audience. I disagree. After all, the movie came out in 1960, and by the standards of the time some explanation seems in order, and Dr. Simon Oakland is as good a man for the job as I can imagine. His analysis of Norman's pathology is cogent and extremely well delivered. Yet throughout his speech, with all its Freudian brilliance, the doctor offered a take on the story that we in the audience, even if we can accept it, can never be satisfied with. He can explain the character of Norman Bates rationally, but he cannot make our response to his story and its effect on us feel ultimately safe, feel somehow in control and finalized. Yes, one can put people like Norman under the microscope, and even dissect what one sees, but this doesn't stop such events as unfolded in the movie any less likely to occur. Ask Milton Arbogast.

In conclusion I'd like to say that great films are made up of outstanding little things, not just big moments or fancy effects. There is in fact nothing fancy about Psycho, which is on the surface is a somewhat plain-looking movie. Only when one looks beneath the surface does one see the teeming millions of small things,--gestures, glances, sudden changes in lighting, razor-sharp editing, and all above the refusal on the part of the director to let any one factor dominate--that we understand the meaning of the word genius, the meaning of the word creative.


Long Beach, CA

Date: 9 September 2001
Summary: What makes it great

I normally do not like horror films, but this is a perfect example of how style and craftsmanship can overcome what is basically a mediocre script.

The thing that really makes this movie for me is the way it is filmed and the way the music is used throughout the film. The visual style can compete with "Vertigo" as Hitchcock at his most artsy.

SPOILER: Another innovative technique is leading up to the "shower scene," Janet Leigh is in every scene and almost every shot. The movie is about her and it is being shown from her point of view. Then we have the famous "shower scene" and suddenly the movie is no longer about her; it is about Norman Bates. Hitchcock makes this transition with such incredible ease that there is no loss of coherence.

This movie is a real work of art. What is even more incredible is that Hitchcock was able to make something so artsy, yet make it appeal to a wide audience. That is the tightrope that today's film makers do not seem able to walk.


Access Sanctuary
New England

Date: 8 September 2001
Summary: I'd Kill That Fly If I Were You (No Spoiler, the Killer is Revealed Early in the Film)

The plot is simple, Marion Crane steals a large sum of money from a client for the bank she works at. She fleas from her unsatisfying job with a cop on her tail, trades in her car, and ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time. The Bates Motel, where 12 cabins are 12 vacancies, owner and operator of the motel (the infamous character Norman Bates) dresses up like his dead mother and slices Marion up in the shower. The whole situation gets quite messy as Norman is investigated by a private detective and suspected of killing Marion for the large sum of money he didn't know she had.

Okay, sure this movie is a huge critical and box-office success. Sure, it's compared to every single other movie in the slasher genre. Sure, it's even responsible for creating the sub-genre as a whole. But, in my opinion, this movie is too long and actually boring as it slowly draws toward it's conclusion. And when you think about it, performance-wise Anthony Perkins is incredible but the rest of the cast is only satisfactory. What does this movie have that really makes it different from other thrillers of the time?


Roderick (

Date: 6 September 2001
Summary: Very Deserved of Such High Praise

The story of the motel owner with a split personality is part of our American culture. Everyone is familiar with the famous shower scene. Bernard Herrmann's score evokes memories and moods instantly. Psycho is a film masterpiece. It is a wonderfully chilly tale of sexual repression, of madness, of the effects that living alone can have on an individual, and finally on the rural aspects of horror in the life of rural America. It is a cheaply made film, but accomplishes so much with so little. The credit goes to a handful of people. First and foremost in this group stands the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. It is Hitchcock's best film in terms of utilizing the minimal for the most shocking scenes ever filmed. His shower scene is forever etched into the mindset of people all over the world. When the film came out, people were afraid to take showers afterward for quite awhile. The camera lens sets the pace for the film, and my favourite scene is Janet Leigh driving in the car. Extremely well-shot scenes with a steady current of tension. Hitchcock was ably assisted by all concerned. Herrmann's score is awesome. Joseph Stefano did a wonderful job adapting the wonderful novel by horror legend Robert Bloch. The acting is first-rate. Anthony Perkins did such a good job that he never could escape the role of Norman Bates. Martin Balsam, Vera Miles, even John Gavin do credible jobs. Janet Leigh is very good, and looks quite fetching and provocative in a black brassiere. Watch for cameos by Simon Oakland(from The Night Stalker fame) and Ted Knight as a guard. An incredible film in many ways - not least of which is the incredible legacy the film has acheived in our cultural panorama.


London, England

Date: 27 August 2001
Summary: Great, but the remakes even better.

Like I said, see the remake first. Hitchcock said that the reason he made Psycho in B/W was because it would have been too scary in colour. Although the acting of Perkins is slightly better than Vaughn, the remake is a scarier and therefore more effective film for todays audience.



Date: 26 August 2001
Summary: A Good Thriller!

Though this is not my favorite Hitchcock film it is close up there. I love how Hitchcock focuses on the physicological aspect of the plot and not just the blood. Hitchcock sure knows how to make a movie!!!!



Date: 29 August 2001
Summary: The Best horror film of all time!!!

Psycho is the best horror and slasher film ever made! It stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Martin Balsam. plot: Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is running away from her town, and everyone she know after stealing 40,000 dollars. She stops to spend the night at a motel- The Bates Motel. She meets the owner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), he is a kind man and he suggests that she eats dinner with him, when Norman runs up to his creepy old mansion, Marion hears Norman's mother start to argue with him about him eating with a woman. Norman tells Marion that his mother has became ill. Later that night, when Marion is taking a shower, Norman's mother gets a butcher knife and stabs Marion to death. About a week later Marion's sister Lila (Vera Miles) is looking for her, and so is Marion's boyfriend Sam (John Gavin, and a Detective (Martin Balsam). The Detective searches every motel for Marion, then finally finds the bates motel, after talking to Norman and finding out everything he can, he goes up to the mansion to talk to the mother, but then he is to murdered. Lila and Sam get worried and talk to the sherriff of the town, he tells them that Norman's mother has been dead for 10 years. Sam and Lila go to the motel to try and find out whats going on, will they to be murdered? Its a great movie and every horror/slasher/thriller fan will enjoy it.



Date: 27 August 2001
Summary: Calling it a masterpiece is an euphemism.

One of the few gems that would deserve more than the simple 10!It's the finest thriller of all times,but it's not only a thriller:it's everything:a psychological drama,a -monstrous- love film,a road movie-in its first part-,a psychopathology study,an update of these novels of the nineteenth century in which you take your life in your hands when you enter an isolated inn.All this and so much more.

Indeed so horrendous were the chances talken by Hitchcock on this movie that,with any lesser skill,the result could have been disastrous;think of it: the heroine disappears halfway through the movie ,leaving the spectator an orphan,or Tom Thumb in the threatening forest;one third of the movie features no dialogue at all;it was a shoestring budget because nobody but the Master and his close collaborators like Herrmann believed in such a project.

Bernard Herrmann outdoes himself for the absolutely perfect soundtrack.His work is so haunting,so mesmerizing that it was imitated to death,when it was not simply used as it was in countless plagiarisms.(DePalma's "Dressed to kill" is a good example)

Pushing his innovations forwards,the Master,after having used in "the rope",only 11 shots for the whole movie,reverses his strategy:70 in the 45 seconds shower scene.

Nothing of the plot should be revealed.Everything you would say would be a spoiler.I'm sur that I've already said too much of it.Just enjoy.


Over the rainbow

Date: 20 August 2001

CONTAINS SPOILERS! Alfred Hitchcock was given the greatest thriller ever to mush and mold, and give it greatness, and he did it, I can watch it every time and it's still suspenseful to me. When i first watched this movie i was 11 i think, i watched it at home, and i heard and was fairly sure norman was the killer, but then i saw the dress and the hair and stuff, and "mother, oh god mother, blood but, blood" and I'm like "mother is the killer" and then that last scene with Perkins running in the dress, I think is the scariest thing i have ever seen. Slasher movies (scream, I know waht you did last summer) do not scare me and i figured, this is 1960, and this well not scare me, but now, when I think fear, I think Norman Bates

17 stars out of 10


Lexington, KY

Date: 14 August 2001
Summary: I've never seen a horror movie come close to this

This is without a doubt Alfred Hitchcock's best movie. Todays horror flicks don't even compare to the timing, and the cleverness of Psycho. My best friend doesn't even like Hitchcock, but he liked this movie. I wish the Oscars could've said the same. This movie is one of a kind.


Gresham, Oregon

Date: 13 August 2001
Summary: The Best Horror Movie Ever Made.

This is, hands down, the best horror movie ever made. It it still praised to this day after 40 years. This movie has it all: good acting, good plot, great cinematography (the shower and staircase murders are outstandingly shot), a lot of suspense, the most memorable score in movie history, and a superb surprise ending (but since this movie is so popular, if you haven't seen it, you probably know the ending anyway).

Anthony Perkins is one the best villains ever, at least in the top 5. The house on the hill was hauntingly eerie, because you never knew what could be inside. This is the best horror movie to date, and it will probably never be beaten. Alfred Hitchcock is the best horror/suspense director ever, and one of the best directors ever.

If you haven't seen it, watch it! There's no real violence, at least not graphic violence (which is another high point, this film can still be incredibly convincing without resorting to unnecessary close-ups). Even if you know the end and haven't seen it, watch it anyway, it's worth it! 10/10



Date: 4 August 2001
Summary: The best horror movie of all time

Nowadays we have been exposed to scarier horror and macabre to find Hitchcock's classic frightening. However, there are certain elements which make this film the best horror movie of all time.

Considering the era (1960) Hitchcock used innovative camera angles to build up the tension and fear in Psycho. For example at the beginning the camera pans down on the motel giving the impression that the house is watching the motel. This personification (that the house is alive) is used again when Marion's sister (Lila) approaches the house near the end. The camera changes from objective to subjective numerous times to give the impression that the house is watching Lila. More camera actions which are innovative is when Bates and Crane are talking over supper. The low camera angle gives the impression that Norman Bates is bigger and therefore more menacing. This is an early indication of the horror which is to come. These are just examples of the clever use of camera.

The music and lightening is a major strength of the film. For example when there is the scene with the corpse the mummified mother is a mixture of dark and light. This represents the good and evil side of Norman. Moreover, there is light shining at the backs of the eye sockets which makes the corpse appear alive. Hitchcock innovated with the signature tune ("screeching violins") and that builds up the suspense. Such directors as Speilberg have copied this idea (e.g. Jaws)

Symbolism is a good part of this film. For example Bates has an unusual hobby of stuffing birds. By analyzing Anthony Perkins performance he perches on the edge of his chair as if he is a bird seeking his prey (i.e. Crane). He also acts like a bird when he twitches his head from time to time. Another clever use of symbolism is when Lila picks up the book in the Psycho house. She is unsure which side is what as they are equally patterned. This represents Norman's character; you can't determine his side as he has two personalities. More symbolism is Marion's change in underwear when she packs her case; white represents purity and black represents evil/wrong doing. Symbolism like this is also used when the camera shows the stuffed bird towering over Bates when he becomes uneasy with Marion's conversation. This represents his mother watching over him and changing his personality. By watching the film other examples of symbolism can be depicted throughout.

What made Psycho so remarkable at the time was realism. The setting was a realistic place and familiar to American and worldwide audiences (i.e the motel, the city - Phoenix, Arizona) rather than fictional places like Transylvania. Also, Norman had a medical condition (he was a psychopath). This was a breakaway from the previous unrealistic films, such as Dracula. This made the film even more frightening and people were scared that such events could occur with "real" people. Also what was realistic about this film was that the characters were neither "goodies" or "baddies" - they had transformations. Marion was a mixture of good and bad (the color of her underwear she chooses represents this and the color of the car she buys.) This makes the film more realistic as it shows that people all have good and bad in them, which is true.

Moreover what stood out in the film was what happened to Janet Leigh. She was killed of very early into the film and this shocked audiences that the A-list Hollywood actress was so brutally murdered. This is nearly on a par with what Drew Barrymore chose to do for Scream when she chose to be Casey. This fact shows Hitchcock has influenced the thinking for other horror movies.

Therefore, although you will be better of with Scream or Scary Movie to scare you this film is an example of cinematography at its best.