By Grace Mundy
With Halloween just around the corner, now feels like an appropriate time of year to watch all the best horror films. One movie in particular, however, stands out as being the basis of the genre, and is still relevant and impactful, even today.
Sixty years ago, the now-famed horror classic “Psycho” premiered in theaters for the first time, shocking both audiences and critics alike. Despite the fact that it is now viewed by many as one of the greatest horror films, it received mixed reviews after its initial release.
“Psycho” tells the story of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a secretary who is on the run after stealing a large sum of money. She stops at a motel in the middle of nowhere and meets Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who lives at and owns the motel. What follows is an increasingly dark story, consisting of unexpected and, for its time, unprecedented twists. Due to the shocking nature of the film, not much more can be said without spoiling the plot.
Though today’s horror movies are less restricted in their content, and editing and technology have developed tremendously, “Psycho” still remains an iconic film. By today’s standards, the chocolate syrup used as fake blood or the lack of CGI may seem dated and bland, but it really is quite the opposite. The beauty of this film is that it does not rely on tricks, but rather on the strong and original plot which continues to terrify audiences.
Another interesting aspect of “Psycho” is the way it successfully combines multiple genres. Obviously, it is primarily a horror movie. But, there are elements of thrillers or even crime dramas as well.
Not only does “Psycho” combine elements of different genres, but it changed the horror genre as a whole. Premiering in 1960, it was a major shift in the movies of years prior. In a time when films were incredibly censored, “Psycho” was a direct departure from the neat, simplistic style favored by pop-culture. It was a movie that was incredibly dark and violent for its time, and that really pushed the envelope for films. For example, it was the first time in the United States that a mainstream film showed a flushing toilet.
“Psycho” is so iconic that it led to numerous sequels and spin-offs, including the films “Psycho II” and “Psycho III,” and the television series “Bates Motel.” However, nothing is quite as entertaining or groundbreaking as the original itself.
So, this Halloween is as good a time as ever to give the horror classic a watch or even a re-watch. With both the film itself, and the history that surrounds it, “Psycho” is an amazing film that has been relevant for decades, and will probably still be relevant for decades to come.