The Mixmaster's Horror Movie Countdown, October 27: Psycho

Not a baseball fan? Before you read my reasons why Psycho is a fantastic horror film, head on over to Angelika Film Center to get in line for a screening of the Hitchcock classic on the big screen (it starts at 8 p.m. in Dallas and 7 p.m. in Plano) as part of the Hitchcocktober series. You can read this while you wait for the lights to dim. As for the rest of you who prefer the comforts of home and a security blanket, cat or pause button, proceed...

Let me be clear, I'm referring to the 1960 version of Psycho, not the super sucktastic 1998 remake (no, people, it's not shot-for-shot. Don't even try).

Alfred Hitchcock's tale of thievery, voyeurism, murder and domineering "mothers" is safely one of the most subtly frightening pieces of film one can see on a screen -- big or small. Much of the terror is implied, enhanced by Bernard Herrmann's thrilling soundtrack as well as creative effects and editing.

Though seriously typecast following his starring role, Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is the quintessential unsettling charmer -- attractive, too friendly, awkward. And he's also the dynamic assailant(s) -- suddenly strong, wild, boiling over with the rage of two people.

And, oh, Janet Leigh. She's not in Psycho for all that long after checking into Bates' roadside cabin, but her performance has put given sudden, unsuspecting death a very recognizable face.

I'm sure you can guess, but it's not for reasons you're thinking...

The Most Memorable Scene:

Psycho's shower scene -- which, if you clicked the link above, you've already heard Hitch discuss -- is known for it's hyper editing and shrieking strings. And the much-discussed chocolate syrup.

All that's fantastic. Ahead of it's time. Iconic. But truly seared-into-gray-matter memorable is Leigh's face. That's why the shower scene gets the nod. From attack to wall slide with empty stare to "dead face," it's all perfect. Personally, I've tried to mimic that last one, and it's nearly impossible. (Call me crazy, it's cool. But what do you expect from someone who took a classes on Hitchcock, has dressed up for Halloween as various Hitchcock characters, and lived for years with the poster above framed in her bathroom next to the shower?) I've seen actual actors try to do it (don't even bring up Anne Heche -- real wrong) and have difficulty. Leigh's expressions are understated perfection. Plain and simple.

The Mixmaster's Horror Movie Countdown October 1: Halloween October 2: Antichrist October 3: Student Bodies October 4: Poltergeist October 5: Jaws October 6: Suspiria October 7: Scream October 8: The Fly October 9: Dead Alive October 10: Drag Me to Hell October 11: Se7en October 12: Rosemary's Baby October 13: Friday the 13th October 14: The Thing October 15: Audition October 16 and 17: The Exorcist and The Exorcist III October 18: The Omen October 19: Paranormal Activity October 20: Changeling October 21: Hellraiser October 22: 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later October 23: A Nightmare On Elm Street October 24: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre October 25: The Amityville Horror October 26: The Shining

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