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The Vault: Psycho (1960)


Psycho has had a wide variety of influence on films, ranging from Pulp Fiction to The Usual Suspects. It is widely regarded as one of the best horror films of all-time.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is fed up; she's taking $40,000 from her boss and running away to California to finally wed her financially-strappe beau Sam. It's a nerve-wracking trip and after spending a night in her car she pulls into the quaint Bates Motel. There she meets the timid Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) who, while well-meaning, is a little too curious for his own good.

Marion checks in and unpacks, all the while overhearing an argument taking place between Norman and his over-bearing mother. She lost her sanity Norman tells Marion, but when Marion suggests she stay in an institution Norman's easy-going nature disappears instantaneously. The shock of his outbursts wears off and Norman laments, "we all go a little mad sometimes" and Marion replies that "sometimes, just one time can be enough". What happens afterward is, of course, history.

Psycho was revolutionary in its time for throwing convention to the wind. They killed the lead character not quite thirty minutes into the film and used violence unlike moviegoers had ever seen before. To Hitchcock's credit he never once showed the blade entering flesh and the impact is felt only in the mind. Nowhere else is a human as defenseless than in the shower and Hitchcock plays on that instinctual fear brilliantly. As the water washes the guilt of Marion's theft away her life is taken, and the audience has no idea where to go from here.

Now the twist is something that is overshadowed anymore because of Hollywood's current tendency to add twists to films that, either do not need them, or are just flimsy excuses to trick the audience. Here, the ending solidifies a theme that has played out throughout the film. We can not escape our pasts. Marion, despite her good intentions in planning on returning the money the next day, dies alone in a bath tub, eyes empty and without life. Norman, who we now know is the killer, lost his mind after the death of his father and his relationship with his mother will, seemingly, never be put to rest.

This is film-making at its best and if you haven't seen it, for the love of everything cinematic go out and see it right now!

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