Psycho Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Alfred Hitchcock may have done more to discourage personal hygiene practices than any other director. In the most famous shower scene ever shot, Hitchcock pulls back the curtain and startles his audience as much with what he leaves out as what he portrays. Audiences get a knife-wielding psycho, terrified screams and streams of blood running down the drain, but never any punctured flesh or overtly gruesome images. Hitchcock leaves it up to viewers to fill in the blanks and the result is shockingly effective.
Psycho begins in a seedy hotel room where an unmarried couple redresses after a lunch hour tryst. Sam Loomis (John Gavin), divorced and paying almost every penny he earns in alimony to his former wife, drives from California to Phoenix as often as he can for these romantic encounters. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who yearns for something more respectable, works in an office and makes up stories to explain her frequent tardiness. But she doesn’t see much of a future for the relationship unless Sam can pay off his debts.
An answer seems to be in the offering when a wealthy rancher (Frank Albertson) marches into Marion’s office brandishing a wad of bills—$40,000 to be exact. Nervous about keeping the money in the office over the weekend, Marion’s boss (Vaughn Taylor) sends her to the bank to deposit it. Telling her coworker (played by Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia) that she plans to go home after stopping at the bank, Marion instead packs her bags and heads out of town to meet Sam with the money.
Exhausted from driving, she finally stops along the way for a night’s rest at the out-of-the-way Bates Motel. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the hotel’s operator, welcomes her to the vacant establishment and even offers his sole guest a plate of sandwiches in his parlor. Surrounded by stuffed birds perched around the room, Marion becomes both intrigued by and wary of the young man who lives with his invalid mother and fills his lonely hours honing his taxidermy skills.
Using heavy shadows, dead fowl and isolation to create a sense of foreboding, Hitchcock establishes the setting for the bloody murder that follows. But he also builds suspense in the script using sparse dialogue, internal conversations, a dark and stormy night and an unsettling sense that something is amiss with Norman and his mother.
Based on a novel inspired by the crimes of a Wisconsin murder, Psycho received mixed reviews at its release but now ranks as one of the greatest thrillers ever made according to the American Film Institute. And while today’s audiences may mistake the 1960’s black and white storyline as outdated, Hitchcock’s masterpiece still produces chills and jump scenes that make it unsuitable for children and even many teens. Unlike the grisly depictions popular in horror films of today, this script relies on suspense rather than gore, though Hitchcock makes full use of the intense shower scene with depictions of blood running down the drain and splattered around the room. Considered by many to be one of the director’s best movies, this psychological thriller promises to be a spine-tingling experience even for viewers from any generation.Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles . Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release September 7, 1960. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Psycho rated R? Psycho is rated R by the MPAA
Violence: A characters steals a large amount of money. Arguments between a son and his mother are overheard several times. A woman is slashed with a knife while showering, although the audience never sees the knife make contact with the body. Blood runs down the drain and is later seen splattered in the shower and around the bathroom. A man washes blood from his hands after cleaning up the bathroom. Another character is stabbed in the face (blood shown), falls down the stairs and is repeatedly stabbed after collapsing on the floor. Several murders involving stabbing or poisoning are discussed. A character badgers another with questions and causes him to become angry. A man is hit over the head with an object. Characters, one holding a knife, struggle with one another. Several corpses are shown.
Sexual Content: A man flirts with a secretary. A woman is shown in her bra on several occasions. A couple redresses after an implied sexual encounter. They kiss and cuddle on the bed and discuss the future of their affair, dirty love letters and the next opportunity to be together. Through a peephole, a man watches a woman undress. Bare shoulders and stomach are seen in a shower scene along with very brief backside and partial breast nudity. A character is incorrectly referred to as a transvestite because there are no sexual desires involved in the cross-dressing.
Language: The script contains a term of Deity and adult oriented dialogue about murders, suicide and illicit sexual affairs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character makes reference to a bottle in man’s work desk and later talks about going out for drinks. A character pulls out a package of cigarettes and smokes one.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for Psycho after the break...
Psycho Parents' Guide
How does Hitchcock create a sense of unease at the hotel? What other film effects does he use to create suspense in the story? How does Marion’s decision to steal the money add to her level of apprehension about others?
According to IMDB.com, actress Janet Leigh was so affected by the shower scene after seeing it on film that to the end of her life, she always took a bath. A man also wrote to Hitchcock saying that his daughter refused to shower after seeing Psycho. What long-term impacts can movie scenes have on viewers?
Alfred Hitchcock makes his signature appearance in this movie. Did you find him?
The most recent home video release of Psycho movie is October 8, 2010. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Psycho; 50th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: 19 October 2010
Psycho release to home video (DVD and Blu-ray) in a 50th Anniversary Edition. Bonus extras include:
- The Making of Psycho
- Psycho Sound
- In The Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy
- Hitchcock / Truffaut Interview Excerpts
- Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
- The Shower Scene: With and Without Music
- The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass
- The Psycho Archives
- Lobby Cards
- Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
- Production Photographs
- Theatrical Trailer
- Re-release Trailers
- My Scenes
- Feature Commentary with Stephen Rebello (author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”)
- BD Live (Blu-ray only)
Related home video titles:
The movie Hitchcock is a biopic about the period of the director’s life in which he makes the movie Psycho. Actress Janet Leigh also starred in the 1962 movie The Manchurian Candidate. Other Hitchcock movies dealing with murder include Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and The 39 Steps.