Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Film Review: Pyscho (1960)

poster, 1960
Fig 1.
Psycho directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960 is a story that was hugely inspired by a serial killer in 50's - Edward Theodore Gein. Psycho was not a high budget film and was deliberately shot to make it look like a cheap exploration film to help build the tension and suspense for the audience. To keep the price low Hitchcock chose to shoot the film in black and white even though colour was available with in combination working with one layer of sound throughout the film. Its unique violin screech in the shower scene makes an unique viewing experience that leaves the audience with a memory of Psycho. Rodger Ebert talks about Hitchcock's directing decisions when creating the shower scene, ''Seeing the shower scene today, several things stand out. Unlike modern horror films, "Psycho" never shows the knife striking flesh. There are no wounds. There is blood, but not gallons of it.'' (Ebert, 1998). Hitchcock did not believe in showing gore but using suspense and the notorious sound  of screeching violins to represent the crime in the shower (Fig 2).

Fig 2.
 The use of screeching violins is not only reflected in the shower scene but the notion of tearing resonates throughout the whole film too. The long screeches and winding chords reflect the suspense and madness that the audience is going to witness throughout the film this is said by Rob Nixon,“Herrmann wrote the main title theme for Psycho before Saul Bass created the opening credit sequence. Bass animated it to the music, creating the stabbing, wrenching look in which the credits are ripped in half.” (Nixon, 2014). Throughout the film Hitchcock is always referring back to the notion of discomfort for the audience and this is even shown through the credits of the film too reminding you of the shower scene murder with the grey lines representing the shower curtain and the words 'psycho' seemingly being sliced in half.(Fig 3.).

Fig 3
 Bernard Herrmann was the music music composer for the Psycho he did not only follow each scene beat for beat he found a way to convey the emotions of the characters through the music within the film, Chris McEneany goes into some detail about the sounds within Psycho he states, ''His music told the same story but from an instinctual standpoint that served to join the dots and fill in the blanks - although in much too subtle and intelligent a manner than to merely blurt out the details.'' (McEneany, 2010). It appears that what McEneany is saying is that Psycho is told in two separate stories one from a visual standpoint and one from a musical view. Psycho is a classic film where music and visuals harmonies into a perfect viewing experience leaving you feeling unsettled with a killer performance.

Illustration List: 

Fig 1. Psycho [Film poster], Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. At: http://johneaves.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/psycho-theatrical-release-poster-1960.jpg (Accessed on 24.02.2014)

Fig 2.  [Film still], Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. At: http://fogsmoviereviews.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/pyscho4752.jpg (Accessed on 25.02.2014)

Fig 3.  [Film still], Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.At: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pq6FFdtJUWw/UQWOKsnDy0I/AAAAAAAAAgM/Ml6mfogAifI/s1600/Psycho_Saul+Bass.jpg (Accessed on 25.02.2014)


Ebert, R. 1998. Psycho Review. 
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-psycho-1960 (Accessed on 25.02.2014)

Nixon, R. (2014) Behind the camera on Psycho.
At: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/191164|0/Behind-the-Camera-Psycho.html (Accessed on 25.02.2014)

McEneany, C. 2010. Psycho - Complete Original Motion Picture Score Soundtrack Review.
At: http://www.avforums.com/review/psycho-complete-original-motion-picture-score-soundtrack-review.1476 (Accessed on 25.02.2014)


  1. Hi Anthony,

    Much better now that the quotes etc are no longer highlighted! :) Just be careful, as you still have a variety of font styles and sizes going on there - I imagine you might have cut and pasted? You need to just reformat the lot at the end, to make sure that everything is consistent.

    Also, towards the beginning, you have forgotten to italicise the film name, although by the last paragraph, you have remembered again :)

    1. ahh thanks Jackie, I'll remember to reformat at the end next time :)