For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Tonight, we go “Psycho” with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic slasher film.
What better horror film to recommend than the one that spawned America’s irrational fear of showers and sketchy motels? Well, maybe the sketchy motel thing is just common sense. But still — if you haven’t seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” you’re missing out on a worthy American classic.
I’m not a scary movie person. I have an overactive imagination that somehow manages to expand the plotlines of even the most unrealistic films, turning them into real-life accounts of actual events that could totally happen to me. This generally results in sleepless nights, vowing never to watch a horror film again and worrying about chainsaw-wielding serial killer zombies hiding in my closet. But despite all the fantastic special effects and jump scares to be found in current films, “Psycho” consistently terrifies me year after year.
Hitchcock’s horrifying brilliance lies within his characters, no special effects needed. “Psycho” follows the plight of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a young blonde secretary struggling to maintain her secret relationship with her lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). They don’t have the money to get married, so naturally, Marion steals a bank deposit from her boss and skips town, heading toward Sam in an impulsive, paranoid road trip.
However cliche this may sound, Hitchcock takes great care in establishing the backstory for his characters. Marion embodies an average woman making relatable mistakes and choices, and the audience can easily place themselves in her position, which heightens the scare factor later on.
As expected, it’s a dark stormy night and Marion is forced to stop and stay the night at the sketchiest of all sketchy motels — the Bates Motel. Enter Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the single most awesome and terrifying character of all time. He’s friendly enough, although it’s obvious something is a little off about him from the beginning — especially when you realize the entire Bates Motel is filled with taxidermy that Norman created himself.
Norman is one of Hitchcock’s best characters, mainly because he embodies a likeable outcast, but we know there’s something suspicious happening behind closed doors. He constantly mentions his overbearing mother, and we hear yelling matches between the two of them, yet we never see her. Ominous music is usually playing softly in the background. Kitschy? Definitely. Effectively terrifying? Of course.
What makes “Psycho” scary is its everyday concepts — like roadside motels, weird customer service employees and most importantly, showers. Who but Hitchcock could make taking showers terrifying for the rest of our lives?
If you’re into Hitchcock, 1960s thrillers and some killer character development, “Psycho” is for you.
This film would also make a fantastic couples costume. Girls, wrap yourself in a bloody shower curtain and slap on a blonde wig and you’re good to go. Guys, just dress in some overalls, carry a knife and sport a terrifying grin. If you really want to make it creepy, sport a taxidermied animal to boot!